RPM Seafood opens tonight with stunning views of Chicago River
How many RPM restaurants can one neighborhood hold? That’s the question we’ll all find out soon as RPM Seafood opens tonight in River North. Even with two other RPM restaurants (RPM Steak and RPM Italian) within walking distance, Lettuce Entertain You President R.J. Melman says he’s not worried. “Clearly, we are always concerned that we don’t compete with ourselves,” says Melman. “But we feel like this is a different restaurant, with a different feel and menu.”
The opening of RPM Seafood caps off an ambitious three-phase project for Lettuce Entertain You at 321 N. Clark St., which has striking views of a prime portion of the Chicago River. The restaurant group has already opened Pizzeria Portofino, to much acclaim, and an event space called RPM On the Water (though that name could change soon).
As RPM Seafood’s name suggests, the restaurant will focus on fish and shellfish. Melman says the restaurant will feature “great seafood from all over the world,” with a “very Mediterranean-inspired menu.” That includes both bluefin and Hawaiian tuna, lobster and lots of oysters. Melman’s current favorite dish is a swordfish chop served bone-in like a steak. “It’s going to be a complete showstopper,” says Melman. “It’ll be cooked over charcoal and fanned like a rib-eye.” He’s also excited about a lobster tempura dish.
But Melman is quick to add that there will be plenty to eat for non-seafood lovers. “We’ll have some simple pastas and a nice amount of steaks,” says Melman. “It’s very much an everyday restaurant for people.”
The kitchen will be run by Bob Broskey, who most recently worked at Beacon Tavern, and he also had experience at two ambitious Lettuce Entertain You restaurants that have since closed, Intro and L20. The project was originally going to be overseen by Doug Psaltis, who crafted the menus at both RPM Italian and RPM Steak. But Psaltis left the company in November under mysterious circumstances.
Melman says that wine director Richard Hanauer crafted a menu with “a lot of emphasis on lighter whites and seafood friendly wines.” Ben Schiller is in charge of the cocktail menu.
The space is dominated by huge windows facing the river. “I really believe it’s one of the best views in the city,” says Melman. “You can see the Riverwalk, boats passing, and people walking on the Clark Street bridge.” In the summer, the space will have a huge outdoor patio to take even better advantage of the location.
While Melman is excited to finish this huge project, don’t think for a second that there aren’t other plans in the works. Melman rattled off a list of projects, including a Sushi-San kiosk in Willis Tower, an Aba restaurant location in Austin, Texas, and a Beatrix in Orlando.
317 N. Clark St., rpmrestaurants.com