Drink of the week: Red Octopus
Where you can find it: Tank Sushi, 4514 N. Lincoln.
The damage: $10 or $5 on Monday
Why here? Everyone has select restaurants and bars where they take out-of-towners. The places I most often hear cited as can't-go-wrong destinations to impress guests are Cafe Iberico for tapas, Green Mill for jazz, Signature Room for the view, Al's Beef for the quintessential local lunch and half a dozen pizza places for Chicago-style pie. For me and my friends, though, there's only one place we insist all of our guests must go: Lincoln Square's Chicago Brauhaus to share a two-liter boot full of German beer.
Last Friday, that's exactly where my pals and I were headed with an Austin, Texas native in tow, but when you're going to drink Spaten by the boot-load, it's critical to fill up beforehand. For that, we picked Tank for its creative maki rolls, chic atmosphere and nearby locale.
How it went down: We walked up to the restaurant and eyed the small sidewalk patio, deciding to wait 30 minutes for a table outside. And after entering Tank's modern digs, we were happy to have some time to ingest the interior. The place was buzzing with electronic beats and groups of thirtysomethings splitting platters of sushi. We grabbed a few industrial-looking, slate-color bar stools at the sleek red bar and went straight for the cocktail menu.
To be honest, there wasn't much appealing about Tank's drinksó11 fairly standard fruity martinis and a vodka lemonade. I chose the Red Octopus, the least sweet-sounding of the bunch and a mix of Effen Vodka, pomegranate juice, a splash of triple sec and lime. It wasn't until after the first sip that I realized I was basically drinking a Cosmo, except the cranberry juice was switched out for the pom. I stopped ordering Cosmopolitans a long time ago, probably at the same time everyone else decided they no longer wanted to walk in Carrie Bradshaw's Manolos, but I was surprised to find that with the juice mix-up, it wasn't so bad. For one thing, it had a nice bite of citrus and tartness at the beginning, and I found the pomegranate juice to be less bitter than cranberry. Still, the raspberry-color concoction was a bit too sweet for my liking, so I transitioned to beer as we headed outside for our meal.
Would I want to become a regular? Where Tank falls short with its drinks it more than makes up for with its sushi. The specialty maki showcase fish-veggie-sauce combos like I've never seen, and you'd have to go weekly for six months to try them all. We opted for four rolls, including the Ocean Sundae with shrimp tempura, avocado, tobiko chili sauce, scallions and sesame seeds, covered with wasabi mayo and sweet soy sauce. After polishing off our platter, we wondered if we'd be able to stomach all of that Spaten down the street. Really, we had no choice; we had an out-of-town guest to impress.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.