LAKEVIEW — Nearly two years after leaving his eponymous Ravenswood diner, Glenn Fahlstrom is back in the restaurant game — this time with Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market in Lakeview.
"We're going to be a family-friendly seafood diner with a working fish market," Fahlstrom said Wednesday as he sat inside the new digs at 1258 W. Belmont Ave.
Fahlstrom is finalizing renovation and decor plans, and hopes to be open for business by Oct. 1.
Fahlstrom said he had a "completely acrimonious relationship" with his business partner and left after a legal dispute. He's ready to start fresh at Fahlstrom's, where he said he'll offer an "unfussy" approach to seafood.
'A seafood version of Potbelly's'
As customers walk into the Belmont locale, they'll see a restaurant to their left and fish market with "a totally different menu," bar and chairs to the right.
"We'll sell fish, and our prices will be a lot better than a Mariano's or Whole Foods because I'm just moving more product," Fahlstrom said. "I'll sell fish in the retail market. I'll sell fish in the restaurant. I'll be able to offer better pricing."
In addition to fresh filets, mussels and clams, customers at the fish market can buy cooked "seaplates" — a five-ounce piece of fish paired with two sides (potato salad, rice, leafy greens) and a piece of bread for $9.95.
Po' boys and sandwiches also will be available, Fahlstrom said. His current favorite is smoked salmon on black bread with brie, orange mayonnaise and tomatoes.
The fish market will be equipped with a conveyor belt oven that can cook seafood in 2-5 minutes.
"I always wanted to do a seafood version of Potbelly's," Fahlstrom said. "If I could create a way of putting fresh fish cooked quickly in people's hands, that's what I wanted to do."
If all goes according to plan, Fahlstrom hopes eventually to open small "free-standing seafood delis" across the city.
'I'm not into this architecture'
The restaurant portion of Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market will focus on just that — fresh fish. There'll be 16 filets offered daily, with rotating specials on a chalkboard.
"How we do our cooking is very simple — not a lot of sauces, not a lot of seasoning. We cook in olive oil and butter," Fahlstrom said, adding that each entree will come with a potato and vegetable.
"I'm not into this architecture on plates nowadays, where [chefs] build the food into this and that. I'm really old-school," Fahlstrom said. "Just like there's differences between a great steak, rib-eye, lamb chop, pork chop — there's different flavors with a salmon, a tilapia, a perch, pike."
It's all about letting the flavors shine, Fahlstrom said.
For folks who aren't quite as into seafood, there'll be a full diner menu with burgers, all-day breakfast, Fahlstrom's famed cereal wall, BLTs and salads.
Weekends will bring breakfast specials like cod cheeks fried in pancake batter, served with strawberry jam and scrambled eggs. And next summer, customers can enjoy a tree-lined patio on Lakewood Avenue.
"This is the next step," Fahlstrom said. "This is what I always wanted for Glenn's [Diner]. This is how I wanted to grow that restaurant."
Prices at the casual restaurant will range from $4.95 to $28.95, with the exception of market-price crab legs. Fish filet entrees will be eight-ounce portions.
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