With so many new restaurants opening every month in Chicago, particularly in the Fulton Street Market area, it’s hard to fit in enough lunch and dinner times to try them all and do some downtown.
However, when recently looking for one that was a few blocks from Chicago’s Theatre District, I finally walked into Ocean Prime, a Cameron Mitchell restaurant that opened on Wacker Drive.at Michigan Avenue in 2019.
Voted in USA Today’s 2019 Best Magnificent Mile Restaurants (North Michigan Avenue’s high end shops from Wacker Drive to Oak Street), I found a relaxed, subdued ambiance and a menu that mixed old and new.
Both suited the restaurant’s location abutting the London House Hotel, a redone building on Wacker at Michigan that once housed the London House, a favorite admen, expense account restaurant known for its steaks and cocktails. I loved the restaurant because jazz pianist Oscar Peterson sometimes played there.
After locating the entrance hall on Wacker and taking an elevator up to the restaurant, I walked through its popular bar to the dining room where I could relax in a comfortable booth. Both spaces had fine views of the Chicago River. I also liked the wall of wines that separated the bar from the dining room.
Ready to find something before heading to the theater (spelled both er and re) I noticed that the Ocean Prime menu had such long-ago Chicago favorite dishes as ordering something “Oscar” style (usually the addition of crab mixed with asparagus and béarnaise sauce on top of a steak) and also the popular side of asparagus with a hollandaise sauce.
But the menu also included new dishes favored by the city’s foodie residents and tourists such as anything black truffle, anything mac and cheese and anything sushi.
Overseen by Executive Chef Jason Shelly who came to Chicago after opening the Washington D.C. location, the restaurant’s large menu ranged from seafood on ice as starters plus several seafood entrées to prime steaks and free-range chicken. The wine list was also impressive and the staff was knowledgeable about wine and dish preparations.
However, I went for the Sea Scallops with parmesan risotto and English peas. It was delish but very rich so if I had more time (7 p.m. theater curtain) I would have started with a salad. I did offset the dish’s richness with the really good sourdough rye bread that appeared.
My other choice, and one I will likely try when returning before another theater date, is the Teriyaki Salmon with shiitake sticky rice and a soy butter sauce. Because I try to eat light before a show I’ll save steaks for another time.
I found out that both the scallops and the salmon are on Ocean Prime’s special Chicago Restaurant Week menu. Steak and chicken are also special menu choices.
Chicago Restaurant Week, going on from, the last week of January through Feb. 9, 2020 is a great chance to experience some of the city’s more expensive dining places at $48 for a three-course dinner.
Ocean Prime Chicago is at 87 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 428-4344.