MFK IN LAKEVIEW INSPIRED BY FOOD WRITER, SUMMER AND SPAIN
By Steve Dolinsky Friday, October 24, 2014 10:29PM
CHICAGO (WLS) — Most literary critics cite M.F.K. Fisher as one of the first writers in the modern era to focus primarily on food. Her work recently inspired a couple of industry veterans to open their own place in Lakeview.
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher may be the inspiration, but honestly, so is summertime and Spain. When you’re bringing in pristine seafood that’s never frozen, preparing it simply and honestly, it’s hard to go wrong.
At just 700 square feet, no one is ever going to accuse MFK of being too big. But that’s fine with the team of local industry veterans behind it. They just want to keep it low-key.
“Very breezy, summertime food,” said chef Nick Lacasse. “Light, fresh, crunchy.”
A good example is the ceviche, which starts with small cubes of suzuki – Japanese sea bass – tossed with a unique sauce.
“It’s mostly citrus but we add a little bit of honey, and a little bit of sambal for just the spice and the garlic, and just a little bit of honey really counterbalances the citrus really nicely,” Lacasse said.
Set above jet-black squid ink tostadas that have been covered in chunky, homemade guacamole, they make a great starter. So does the locally-farmed shrimp from Indiana.
“It’s this Polish man who drives his truck up to the alleyway twice a week,” Lacasse said. “I had never had ‘never frozen’ shrimp before, and it’s just head and shoulders the most amazing texture, flavor I’ve ever had.”
Seared on a plancha with garlic, butter and lemon, it’s devastatingly simple.
A “cataplana” is really a poor man’s bouillabaisse: jammed with mussels, clams and shrimp, it’s crowned with enormous cobia collars, which are caught about 30 miles from San Diego.
It’s not all seafood though. A chicken ballotine shows Lacasse’s training.
“We take the legs, pick all the meat, season it, and basically roll it up in a chicken ballotine and then crisp the outside, roast it in the oven,” Lacasse said. “Very simple pan sauce, potatoes and carrots.”
Dessert is pretty simple too. Just one choice: the Basque cake.
“Dense, very moist, rich almond cake with a layer of pastry cream baked in the middle of it,” he said. “We were thinking about whether it needed a garnish or not, and we all decided it doesn’t.”
432 W. Diversey Pkwy.
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