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Reviewed June 6, 2012
Reviewed December 4, 2011
Reviewed October 26, 2011
What You'll Get
Before fishermen discovered the edibility of fish, they used each catch as bait for larger species, hoping in the end to hook the biggest fish of all—friendship. Satisfy cravings for companionship and freshly caught fare with today’s Groupon: for $40, you get the chef's five-course seafood tasting menu at Oceanique (an $80 value), located in Evanston. This Groupon does not include tax, gratuity, or drinks.
Chef Mark Grosz selects the very best of Oceanique's French and American cuisine for his five-course tasting menu, pairing fresh seafood with local produce and decadent sides. Epicurean adventures begin with a surprise dish served on an unsurprisingly solid plate, followed by a choice of the day boat scallops with cabbage, kimchi and a lobster-soy broth, the calamari shrimp with Meyer lemon, ginger, daikon, and sake, or the venison pâte, spread atop poilane toast. After a seasonal sorbet palate-cleanser and rousing rendition of "Be Our Guest," diners select a favorite entree. Select from savory options of Icelandic arctic char, slow-roasted and flanked by haricot verts, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and poblano, wild Hawaiian big-eye tuna, prepared rare and snuggled next to bacon, turnip, chanterelles, and tarragon, or wild Maine skatefish, a recklessly mobile East Coast sea-dweller rolling with meyer lemon, leeks, heirloom carrots, and lemongrass. Post-poisson devouring performances, an array of pastries provides an elegant encore.
Oceanique's wine cellar is remarkably devoid of cobwebs and houses nearly 900 carefully selected, pair-friendly wines. Wash down your gourmet harvest of the land and sea with wines by the glass ($10+) and half bottles of red ($34+) or white delights ($26+). Inside Oceanique's charming 1920s Spanish-style location, warm linens swoop from the ceiling, brightly-tiled floors supply stylish treading, and rustic chandeliers tempt high-society acrobats to swing onto a pillow of caviar.
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The Fine Print
Promotional value expires Sep 15, 2011. Amount paid never expires. Limit 1 per person, may buy 5 additional as gifts. Menu subject to change. Dine-in only. Not valid for beverages and a la carte items. Not valid on Sundays and 6/16-18. Must use in 1 visit, no cash back. Tax and 18% gratuity not included. Not valid with other offers. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.
Oceanique's culinary history sparkles with the natural brilliance of a marine reef. The restaurant, after all, celebrated 25 years of fine dining in February 2014 after gifting itself an interior renovation in July 2013. Now the space boasts elegant cream walls, abstract art, and modern light fixtures to juxtapose the classic French cuisine that gave the restaurant its original renown. While the ambiance may have changed, Chef Mark Grosz still peppers his menu with the evidence of a culinary education acquired in France, under Jean Banchet at Le Francais.
For his eclectic dishes, which change daily, Grosz might pair butternut squash with salmon or drizzle rhubarb-mango chutney on foie gras. Beyond the signature seasonal fish dishes, he also devotes full plate space to organic, ultra-fresh produce, such as butternut squash and fiddleheads. Even with its complex array of ingredients and tastes, the menu strives to remain approachable. Time Out Chicago writes that "while the multi-ingredient preparations border on overwhelming, Grosz somehow manages to balance flavors while completely flipping off subtlety." What results is a laid-back dining atmosphere featuring delicious, creative meals, all lubricated by a selection of more than 800 wines.