The shtick The fishiest brunch in River North.
The vibe Big floor-to-ceiling windows let in a lot of light for the intimate, quiet tables on a weekend morning at this seafood standby. More than anyone else, the dining room gets filled up with couples, many of whom are wearing jeans and blazers and look like they’ve got a packed social agenda ahead of them. The room noise never busts above an easy murmur, and the lack of distractions really lets you take in the clean-lined, contemporary space. 9 out of 10
The foodObviously there’s plenty in the way of fish and oysters (a full raw bar menu, smoked salmon, the fantastic-any-time-of-day oyster sliders). But there are great options even for non-seafoodies. To start, basically every table bore a plate of the monkey bread ($7), a saccharine combo of caramel sauce, almost-too-crunchy toffee streusel, and pull-apart bread that’s meant to share and dip into the accompanying bowl of whipped cream. It’s a glee-inducer, but ours was a bit overdone around the edges, requiring a few chews too many to get through it. (The center bread ball, though, was a caramel-soaked delight.) Better were the shrimp and grits ($16), the grits risotto-like and studded with kernels of corn, the shrimp brightened with a roasted tomato sauce. And the chilaquiles ($14) with duck confit somehow managed to be both gorgeous and deliciously sloppy thanks to a runny egg yolk and piquant salsa verde. Overall, a charming spread. 8 out of 10
The drinks The coffee was fine and refilled frequently, but the Bloody Mary was the sole disappointment of the day. The garnishes were ample, but the drink wasn’t nearly tomatoed enough to make an impression after a year of Bloody sampling. 6 out of 10
The service Our servers were charming and somehow psychic, refilling cups when the thought first occurred that the coffee was running low and waiting until just the right moment to clear our plates. 9 out of 10
Overall A great option, especially if you’re looking to impress a date while chowing down on chilaquiles. 8 out of 10
531 N. Wells St., River North, 312-929-3501