As Hugo’s Frog Bar is to Gibsons, so the now-open C Chicago (20 W. Kinzie St., 312-280-8882) is to Chicago Cut Steakhouse. The things-from-the-sea menu at C springs from the betoqued brain of Bill Montagne, a former corporate chef at Lettuce Entertain You and sous chef at New York’s Le Bernardin.
Montagne says C Chicago will source much of the seafood from the East Coast through relationships he built while in New York, flying it in to Chicago every day. “I have till 5 p.m. to quantify what I want,” he says. “[Say,] five black bass, 15 branzino, live scallops, live sea urchin. I have until about 11 p.m. to adjust that order. The fish is packed by 4 a.m. It’s at the airport by 5 a.m., flying out by 6 a.m, landing here about 9 a.m. It’s picked up for us and delivered straight to the restaurant.” Even at dinner, Montagne says they plan for the fish to hit the plate less than 24 hours after coming out of the water.
Montagne lists black bass, American red snapper, dorade, branzino, and turbot as fish he plans to cook whole. The turbot, for instance, he’ll prep between two layers of dough made of salt, herbs, and egg whites. “As it starts to heat up and steam is created, it’s cooked in a salty aromatic environment, and there’s no need to season it,” he says. “We cut it open tableside, lift off the top [crust], and all the aromas come wafting out.”
Showing its kinship with Chicago Cut, C Chicago will feature its elder sibling’s prime, aged steaks and iPad wine list. They won’t share everything, though—Montagne says C will not share Chicago Cut’s desserts or its noise level.