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Restaurant Week: Devon Seafood Grill

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Feb 22, 2011 8:00PM

Restaurant Week is on like Donkey Kong, so you’d better believe your beloved Chicagoist foodies are out there finding out what’s worth your time and what’s not. Up first is Devon Seafood Grill. Despite what you may guess, Devon Seafood Grill is not actually on Devon Avenue - it’s on the corner of Chicago and Wabash in the Gold Coast. Nor is DSG unique to Chicago; the restaurant has additional locations in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Hershey. We visited DSG on the first day of restaurant week, and all things considered, it was a good way to kick things off.

The Food. The $33 Restaurant Week menu at DSG offers some pretty solid, but not groundbreaking, choices. For the first course you can choose between two salads and a lobster bisque. For the main entrée, you can go with DSG’s signature crabcakes, salmon, steak, or seared scallops. For dessert, you’ll have to choose between crème brulee and a decadent orange-crème chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream.

Chef Scott Barrows is pumping out dishes in serious volume for Restaurant Week. The salads we got were standard fare, but not disappointing. DSG passes hot biscuits to customers before the meal, and those were unfortunately dry and crumbly. The crabcakes are more like crab balls, and we can imagine them being formed with an ice cream scooper. Whether or not this is true, it makes them less visually appealing. The salmon comes in an almost comically large portion, overlaying heavily oiled potatoes au gratin. The creamed leeks were delicious, but the overwhelming amount of oil on the plate distracted us into poking around with our forks to avoid it rather than enjoying the fish and vegetables to their fullest.

The real standout, and our recommendation at DSG for Restaurant Week, are the seared scallops. The searing is beautiful and the scallops have a rich, smooth texture and fresh, creamy taste. The fennel salad is a nice accompaniment. Our only beef with the whole thing is the pool of oil, again! To the sous bathing the dish in basil olive oil like it’s going out of style: ease up a little bit, and the dish would be perfect.

Between the two desserts, you really can’t go wrong. The one oddity is that the crème brulee is served in an espresso cup that is deeper than it is wide. The whole point of ordering a brulee is the brulee - the crisp, crackly crust is noticeably small for the amount of crème you get in this dessert. For this reason, we recommend the orange-crème chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream, which is a delight.

The Wine. DSG has a decent wine list - nothing to write home about, but you won’t be disappointed with the very fair prices, especially for the Gold Coast. Wine is thoughtfully offered in 6 ounce glasses, 9 ounce carafes (great for sharing), or bottles. For the indecisive and lovers of variety, you can also choose between five groups of wine flights.

The Atmosphere. DSG is a safe choice for dates, dinners with older patrons, or after-work dining get-togethers. We can’t say it’s anything particularly unique or extraordinary, but if you’re looking for a relaxing, reliable night out, this could be a good choice for you. The music is at a reasonable volume. The service is very good, and wait staff is attentive and able to give good suggestions. Despite the restaurant being very busy, our server did a good job of popping up whenever we needed him to take wine orders and share helpful advice. Keep in mind that it’s Restaurant Week, so you aren’t likely to get substitutions or special requests - do us a solid and keep these sorts of things to a minimum as a courtesy to the restaurant and all of the other patrons flooding Chicago’s eateries this week.

Devon Seafood Grill is at 39 E. Chicago Avenue.