by Mike Sula
I was on vacation for a few weeks, so I
was spared missed the annual apocalyptic binge we call Taste of Chicago. But for some reason NOLA reporter Joe Rawley was there, and took this snapshot at one of the booths.
The notion that all seafood from Gulf waters has been irreparably tainted by British Petroleum is an incredibly touchy subject among fishermen and restaurateurs still in recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Given that seafood coming from waters still open to fishing is rigorously tested for toxicity and apparently quite safe so far, it seems pretty goddamn crass, opportunistic, and insensitive (even for the Taste) that a Chicago restaurant would repudiate it so proudly.
Friend of the Food Chain and former Chicagoan Colleen Rush, now in NOLA, thought so too and posted about it, tracking down the identity of the restaurant, which turns out to be Oak Street Beach Cafe, located nowhere near the beach, but rather inside Midway Airport.
Rush got some appropriately outraged reaction from Rick Tramonto who, along with a bunch of other celeb chefs has been speaking out on behalf of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, but OSBC owner Everett Rand, who along with his brother, runs a small empire of Midway restaurants, and seems to have clout to spare, didn't return her calls. I'll let you know if he returns mine, but in the meantime, don't confuse Oak Street Beach Cafe with Oak Street Beachstro, which is actually on the beach.
Finally, I don't know about you but when I seek out quality seafood it isn't on Concourse B. Yet perhaps we should give OSBC's a fair shake. The restaurant's not-from-the-Gulf seafood items at the Taste included "Grilled Lobster Tail with Potato" and "Grilled Shrimp on a Skewer with Potato." The first person who traded tickets for either and can convincingly report back on them wins an airplane bottle of Vietnamese snake wine.