Holy Mackerel! Fresh Seafood & Cocktails - Lombard
One of the giants of Chicago broadcast history, Caray announced for five major league teams in his career, bringing to the game such innovations as the “seventh inning stretch” when Caray himself would sing to the crowd “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” If you’d ever listened to Caray call a game, you know that his running commentaries about bases run and homers hit was interspersed with the expression “Holy Cow!” That trademark epithet is emblazoned on the walls of his Harry Cary’s Italian Steakhouse on Kinzie in Chicago.
So when it was time to build on his red meat emporium with a place that would specialize in seafood and cocktails, the natural name for the place seemed to be Holy Mackerel! Fresh Seafood and Cocktails.
Holy Mackerel! Fresh Seafood and Cocktails is located just outside Chicago in Lombard, and the slick dining room attempts to bring a little bit of Chicago to the near-Western suburbs. Vintage details and large-scale murals portray scenes from the old Chicago lakefront, complementing the comfortable and intimate dining space.
Fresh fish is flown in daily based on seasonal availability, and the focus on fish is most apparent during dinner time, when virtually the entire menu is devoted to the fruits of the sea…and there are some stellar dishes to be had.
For appetizers, there’s a selection of internationally inspired starters, including blackened tilapia tacos and steamed Belgian-style mussels. For those preferring something cold and classic to kick off their meal, there’s usually a half-dozen kinds of oysters, many times featuring briny beauties from the East Coast like Whitewood Cove and Skinny Dipper from Maryland as well as Nasketucket and Icahbod from Massachusetts. You can get one of each for a special price…and they’re a special way to kick off the meal.
There are many innovative takes on popular fish, including walnut roasted grouper (one of Florida’s most popular fish) with crispy sopressata, as well as crab-and-gorgonzola stuffed flounder. Creative treatments such as these elevate the fish to new levels, bringing in flavor combinations that make even familiar fish taste new and exciting.
If you’re not feeling in the mood for a big chow-down, you could easily make a meal of just a salad (perhaps a seafood Cobb or spinach and beets), maybe accompanied by a side of lobster mashed potatoes or lobster mac n’ cheese, both simple sides made marvelous by the addition of the world’s most luxurious crustacean.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Holy Mackerel! Fresh Seafood and Cocktails offers a number of meat-centric meals, especially during lunch. Given the restaurant name, seafood has a central place in dishes like Harry’s calamari and New England clam chowder. But fear not, carnivores, there’s enough animal protein on this menu to satisfy the most ravenous, and it’s not all red meat.
Chicken Vesuvio is a Chicago classic, a traditional Italian-American food with chicken on the bone and potato wedges, sweet peas, carrots and celery, all pan-fried with garlic, white wine, oregano and, of course olive oil; then it’s baked until the skin turns crisp and crackly. Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune has judged this version to be “The best Chicken Vesuvio in Chicago.” And it’s not even in Chicago! (He probably meant the whole Chicagoland region!).
At lunch, you can get the chicken fried, or have a grilled Santa Fe steak, a grilled skirt steak, or any one of a number of other meaty options. What makes lunchtime so special at Holy Mackerel! Seafood and Cocktails is the Holy Cow! Burger Bar. Here, you have your choice of many beef varieties, including Waygu, grass-fed and sirloin. If you must, there’s also turkey and veggie burgers. After you pick your protein, you choose a cheese (including fresh mozzarella, 5-year gouda, etc.), and accompanying veggies, such as fresh giardiniera or fried onion strings. Add to all that like accoutrements like bacon or Harry’s BBQ sauce. Finally, pick your bun – brioche, pretzel roll, whatever you want –and be sure that whatever you choose, this is going to be a burger to remember.
Before, during or after dinner, there’s a lot of liquid refreshment to choose from: classic cocktails, a well-curated selection of single malts, as well as, of course, beers, imported and domestic. If you’re not sure what to drink, have a Budweiser – it would make Harry happy. It was his brand. He was a Bud Man. Holy Cow…er, Mackerel!