Every restaurant serves oysters these days, but at Sink|Swim, the perfectly shucked bivalves are available four ways, which exemplifies the level of ambition at the Scofflaw group’s first restaurant. You can get them with a bright mignonette; with dill and garum, a funky ancient Roman fish sauce; with luxurious crème fraiche and caviar; or with a bottle of gin, which you pour into empty oyster shells and tip back into your mouth.
Matt Danko (Cleveland’s Trentina) turns out interesting dishes in an adorable nautical-themed space. The drink list is terrific, so get a cocktail or wine, then order garlic panisse, velvety chickpea fries showered with lemon peel, herbs and pecorino. Other dishes reach the same level—I apologized to my date for eating two-thirds of the simple, elegant gin-cured salmon before letting him near it. We also ordered the spaghettone after the scent of thick spaghetti curled around clams with dashi, onions and pecorino wafted over from another table, and the pecorino cake, with whipped honey and dried grapefruit soaked in Cappelletti amaro, a worthy offering from Danko, a former pastry chef.
At times, though, dishes seemed too ambitious. The promised spicy ‘nduja on the shrimp toast was nowhere to be found, potatoes came with a muddy seaweed butter, and lovely warm smoked trout had an identity crisis of accompaniments, including zucchini, celery root and creamy bagna cauda. For dessert, gjetost (a mild Norwegian cheese) custard was buried under Whoppers and chocolate. If the restaurant doesn’t feel as polished as Scofflaw, that’s because it’s not. But Sink |Swim aims higher, and with time comes the possibility of being even greater.
Atmosphere: Seaside meets Logan Square, with paintings of sea captains and ships, light woods, funky cerulean chairs and booths, and thick ropes. The music on a Friday night was loud, so this isn’t a spot for a quiet date.
What to eat: Garlic panisse ($6), gin-cured salmon ($9), pecorino cake ($8)
What to drink: Considering Scofflaw’s Danny Shapiro is involved here, you need to get at least one cocktail, like the lightly smoky Esplanade Swizzle, made with sherry, mezcal and Shapiro’s own falernum. Save the Pellet Gun #2, made with Elisir Novasalus amaro (the most bitter thing I’ve ever had), for a nightcap, since it’s too bitter to drink over dinner. But don’t stop at cocktails—the streamlined wine list is packed with interesting, affordable choices that work well with seafood, like a well-rounded, refreshing albariño.
Where to sit: If you’re with a group, you’ll want one of the bigger booths along the wall, but otherwise, the bar is a pretty comfortable spot to sit.