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SHIPSHAPE Sink|Swim’s monkfish liver torchon with salted plum, carrot and black sesame

Seaworthy

by Lauren Viera | Photography by Anthony Tahlier | CS magazine | July 14, 2015

Despite the fact that we’ve got a great lake in our front yard, seafood restaurants are few and far between in this town. Sure, we’ve got our share of white-tablecloth surf and turf, and a handful of great sushi bars. But neighborhood seafood eateries? Not so much. Leave it to the team from Scofflaw Group to open a spot worth its (sea) salt—nautical rope decor, Beach Boys soundtrack and all. 

Though Scofflaw’s only prior venture is a cocktail lounge, Sink|Swim walks the walk (or the plank, to borrow from the spot’s tongue-in-cheek riffs) of a full-service restaurant. The chef, Matt Danko, earned his cred in Cleveland (Trentina, The Greenhouse Tavern) and, perhaps due to his art school background, brings oddly beautiful twists to standards like lobster, poached sole and caviar toast.

The sole, for one, is deliciously verdant, thanks to the addition of green garbanzos, kale, a zingy almond-and-caper gremolata with herb jus, and fresh ramps. Oysters come four ways: standard East and West Coast splits, Roman (garum vinaigrette), Moscow (caviar and creme fraiche) and, nodding to the group’s cocktail game, Resentin: served with Scofflaw Old Tom gin or grappa, in which the oysters take a swim before heading down the hatch. Even the straightforward fish and chips are on point, with perfectly battered Atlantic cod and meaty hunks of frites doused in requisite malt vinegar. 

As serious as Sink|Swim’s food game is, the kitschy decor keeps things light. Anchoring the entrance, a vintage orange Malm fireplace welcomes diners aboard, and elsewhere, lighting has an orange tint reminiscent of docks and midcentury yacht-rock bars (with a soundtrack to match). Throwback oil paintings of sea captains and grand sailing ships hang in mismatched frames along the whitewashed walls of the dining room. Oversized vinyl booths and the bar’s matching captains’ chairs are covered in a gorgeous marine hue, which is echoed along the slick galley wall leading to the restrooms, which are just past the poster instructing the layperson “How to Make a Paper Boat” in case they’d like to replicate the bill, which is served with—wait for it—saltwater taffy. It’s almost too much. But in a town thirsting for seafood any way we can get it, Sink|Swim is quite a catch.

Sink|Swim
Open nightly for dinner
3213 W. Armitage Ave.
773.486.7465

Spot Check
Poached sole.......$18
Barbecue fish collar......$15
Caviar toasts.......$8