by guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes; photo by Kent Miller:
Don't buy the stereotypes; some people get along with their in-laws. In 1948, on the edge of the Calumet River, brothers-in-law Sid Kotlick and Len Toll opened Calumet Fisheries, 3259 E. 95th. Sixty years later, they're still dishing the fish.
They smoke fish over natural wood. (Check the website for a smoked fish menu, or stop by Calumet Fisheries and do some impulse shopping.) The Kotlick-Toll clan takes pride in serving the freshest possible fish. Shrimp, oysters, frogs' legs, crab cakes and catfish share menu space with cheese sticks, onion rings, mushrooms and macaroni salad.
The place is strictly take-away - not what you expect to see at the "tuxedos and white linens" James Beard Awards. The Beard Foundation, however, give America's Classics Awards, awards that go to places that locals appreciate.
Last night, Mark Kotlick slung a green ribbon around his neck. Shoulders back, head high, eyes glowing, he stood like exactly what he was: the bearer of recognition for more than half a century of good service, well-prepared fresh fish and local pride.