When you think of typical Chicago food, deep dish pizza or hot dogs probably come to mind. But fish? Maybe not. The Element Collective team (Nellcôte and Old Town Social) and Chef Duncan Biddulph (Lula Café and Rootstock) are trying to change that with their newest restaurant, Kinmont.
On the 1st of February, Kinmont opened on Superior Street right off the Chicago Brown line El stop, and is already receiving huge amounts of praise and press. GT Fish & Oyster of the Boka Restaurant Group continues to be Chicago’s upscale seafood staple, and David Morton’s Fish Bar is a reliable, more casual alternative, but Kinmont is unique. Element Collective labels Kinmont “the first entirely sustainable fish and seafood restaurant in Chicago.” According to their website, “Kinmont is inspired by ethical fishermen’s practices in the Midwest, and shines the spotlight on ‘rough fish,’ fish that are less utilized but no less delicious and versatile.”
Appropriately, the interior of the restaurant exudes a rustic, log cabin vibe, drawing upon the ‘Americana chic’ trend that seems to be so popular right now. The food follows suit, with minimalistic dishes that still manage to pop with complex flavor points.
When I visited Kinmont, I started with the salmon tartare, which set the bar high for the rest of the meal. The heavy shallot flavor paired well with the delicate salmon. The thin, crispy flatbread served with the tartare yielded a wonderful textural contrast. The portion, which was meant to serve two diners, seemed sufficient for four.
Next came the pan-roasted mussels, a unique dish in that it wasn’t the broth-dominated mussels plate that many restaurants serve. While many restaurants (like The Purple Pig) absolutely nail this kind of broth, Kinmont lets the mollusks speak for themselves. I was finally able to fully appreciate the pleasant sea taste and tenderness of the mussel. Similar to the salmon tartare, this dish was also a bargain given its portion size.
The entrees didn’t disappoint either. Although the entire menu was enticing, the most impressive dish had to be the squid ink spaghetti. The noodles were cut perfectly thick and decadently infused with squid ink, seasoned with mint and red chile. This dish is one that inexperienced diners should order when looking to step out of their comfort zone.
For those who aren’t so bold, don’t be ashamed to order the fish & chips. Kinmont somehow made this fried fish staple feel like fine dining. I’ve fallen victim to too many over-done imitations that leave a pit of grease in my stomach, but this option was pleasantly light with fresh-tasting fish and a hint of buttery goodness in the thin fried coating.
Quality service, food and ambience made for a wonderful meal. To top it all off, I received a phone call the following day from a Kinmont representative asking me how my experience was. Something that simple goes a long way.
Kinmont is a welcome change of pace for Northwestern students. The prices are affordable, and the location is accessible so after your next midterm, hop on the Purple Line Express and get off at the Chicago stop to celebrate. Then come back from your coastal escape and start studying for finals, because, you know, it’s the quarter system.
Location: 419 W Superior St, Chicago, IL 60654
Hours of operation: Sun-Wed: 5pm-11pm, Thurs-Sat: 5pm-12am