Ahoy, Savoy

Smart seafood and clever cocktails in Wicker Park

The Savoy has the makings of a great neighborhood restaurant.

But with nearly a dozen absinthe cocktails, a smart wine and beer list, and an unusually seafood-heavy menu, it merits a visit from anyone who doesn't happen to live in Wicker Park.

Start with oysters ($12), here served with ginger-wasabi mignonette and a lusty cocktail sauce made from smoked tomatoes and jalapeños that whispers of a wood-fired grill. An absinthe-spiked Pimm's Potion #9 ($12) is a fine, gently sweet pairing; for a drier counterpoint, try a glass of fino sherry ($7).

Ceviche (pictured; $9) is delicate and fresh, its halibut, snapper, hamachi and shrimp tossed with marinated minced bell peppers, pear, avocado and a squeeze of orange and lime. Roasted garlic purée adds savory heft to a meat-packed crab cake ($13).

A fried whole fish (market price) is a standout. Breaded with rice flour, it's served with smoky eggplant purée and tomato-fennel-garbanzo-bean salad.

Our only complaint after two meals: that the distinctive lobster roll ($14) with warm meat, caramelized onions and bacon has been replaced by a more familiar, chilled, mayonnaise-bound version. The upside: We know what we'll be doing next time we have lobster on our hands.

The Savoy, 1408 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-698-6925 or savoychicago.com