It’s Alaskan halibut season! This means it is the absolute best time to experience this mild and flaky, yet tasty fish. Sure, you can get it year-round from the East Coast, but at Catch 35 in Chicago and Naperville, it’s special. This elegant eatery prefers halibut not just for its flavor-filled profile, but for its larger size and richer fat – leading to a more delicious fish.

You can experience Alaskan halibut in two different ways at Catch 35 – as a filet and as a T-bone-style steak. The filet is sautéed, then served with sweet pea risotto, Nueske’s award-winning applewood-smoked bacon and lemon vinaigrette. The steak is a more unusual preparation, but it suits the Alaskan halibut’s heartiness. This version is herb-crusted and served with fingerling potatoes, maître d’hôtel butter, and creamed spinach.

Why Alaskan halibut? This is a large flat fish, similar to flounder. It’s dark gray on one side, which allows it to camouflage itself on the ocean floor, and white on the other, to match the ocean surface – this is a protective coloration known as countershading. Alaskan halibut ranges from 20-40 lbs, and is highly regulated for annual maximum harvesting to ensure a supply that’s healthy and of top quality. Alaskan halibut comes whole to Catch 35 so it can offer those T-bone steaks.

Another favorite of Catch 35 now is Georges Bank haddock, caught off the coast of Massachusetts and southwest of Nova Scotia starting in early summer. Chef Eddie Sweeney prefers haddock for its fish and chips because of the flaky texture. It is one reason why Catch 35’s fish and chips is a perennial favorite among seafood lovers.

The staff at Catch 35 knows that seafood is always better with a good wine, and the best values in wine this year come from the Pacific Northwest. Oregon and Washington State have similar growing seasons, microclimates, and soil to Napa Valley but haven’t experienced the same drought followed by excess rain in recent years. Those climate issues have affected wine production, pushing up Napa Valley prices.

For the Alaskan halibut, the wine director at Catch 35 (a big wine geek who can talk for hours about his work) recommends unoaked Chardonnay, which is light and clean and won’t overpower the delicate smoothness of the flavor. Catch 35 offers 30+ different styles of Chardonnay, along with 35 whites and roses – all tested and approved to complement seafood. Rose is another popular type, especially in the Midwest as summer starts to arrive. Catch 35 offers roses from California, France, and Spain. The servers here can talk you through your wine order, so you get exactly the right drink at the right price.

Summer is better with lake breezes, great seafood, and the perfect wine to go with it. If you’re looking for an exceptional seafood experience, try one of Catch 35’s two Chicago area locations, at 35 W. Wacker Dr. in Chicago and 35 S. Washington St. in Naperville. Visit online at www.catch35.com. You’ll be surprised at how fresh we can get here in the Windy City.

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