The Purloined Menu | Miscellany | Chicago Reader

The Purloined Menu 

Starfish

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It was the first prickly hot night.

At Starfish we lounged under the dragonfly wings of the ceiling fan, swatting at precocious mosquitoes and plotting summer escapades.

Our plans--ambitious, conflicting, overzealous--were not unlike what we found on our plates. Starfish has lots of good ideas--and tries to execute them all at the same time.--Leah Eskin

Steamed Prince Edward Mussels Mussels deserve to be coddled in cream or to luxuriate in white wine. These have been roped into an Asian adventure, loping alongside curried scallions and mushrooms. In the competition between sweet brine and pungent spice, both lose out.

Peppercorn Crusted Tuna Big hunk o' tuna, mercilessly peppered, practically seared. A feast, despite the balsamic mustard sauce in search of an endive-and-arugula party. Seems like this he-man steak would be happier with a less flamboyant companion.

Grilled Barbecue Salmon Candy-sweet peach glaze over a salmon chunk chopped in two by a crispy potato fence. A more successful mixed marriage than most performed here.

Seared Scallops Sticky seared exterior, gelled creamy interior over humble blackbean cakes a bit too scorched for their own good. Slices of mango (skin and all) hovering on the edge of the plate seemed overdone and underrelevant.

Wild Mushrooms Au Gratin Mushrooms of mixed pedigree practically melted into sublime sweet buttery repose. Heavy on the buttery repose.

Blue Corn Crab Cakes Thick crab cakes get a kick from salsaish chutney and peppery mayo.

Crab Corn Chowder Delightful flavor, slight kick, nice whole kernel crunch, but oppressed by a heavy hand with the heavy cream.

Seafood Burrito Better than the original version, in which two giant tortillas hunched over a mass of beans and jicama, overwhelming delicate duck and lobster. In the revised edition--a neat packet of sea treasures and rice--the seafood comes through, though the overexposed scallops had gone chewy.

As the crowd dwindled we nibbled at slightly dry pecan pie, a perfectly tangy key lime pie, and a low-lying but satisfying mixed berry shortcake.

Starfish is at 1856 W. North Ave.. Make reservations (395-3474) or you'll be sorry.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Starfish menu.

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