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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Can Red Fish, Bleu Fish Win Over Hyde Park Locals? Porkchop Owner Hopes Seafood Spot Will Become Neighborhood Staple

With Big Easy-inspired seafood and pasta dishes, Porkchop's Jovanis Bouargoub hopes his new spot will thrive on Harper Avenue for years to come.

Jovanis Bouargoub is joined by members of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce to cut the ribbon at Red Fish Bleu Fish's grand opening.
Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chicago
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HYDE PARK — Opening a restaurant in Hyde Park can be a risky endeavor.

Hyde Parkers can be averse to change, and trendy eateries have been known to close shortly after the “grand opening” ribbon is cut. The neighborhood has seen a number of restaurant closings in the last year: Italian eatery A10, now home to Virtue; Wingers, the burger joint now home to Soul Shack; Einstein Bros. Bagels closed in January without explanation; and, soon after, Hyde Park Taco Station abruptly shuttered.

But when Hyde Parkers find a place they really like, they remain loyal for years to come. It’s that loyalty that French restaurateur Jovanis Bouargoub is counting on for Red Fish, Bleu Fish, his latest restaurant at 5121 S. Harper Ave. that aims to bring a taste of the Big Easy to locals.

“I like the diversity, and it’s a small community,” Bouargoub said of Hyde Park. ” They use word of mouth a lot. It’s not like downtown where no one talks to anybody, and everyone meets at the restaurants here.”

Credit: Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chicago
Red Fish, Bleu Fish, is now open at 5121 S. Harper Ave.

Red Fish, Bleu Fish is the second restaurant Bouargoub has opened in Hyde Park. He was one of the first tenants to set up shop in the renovated Harper Court retail corridor in 2014 with his third Porkchop location, which is focused on southern-style barbecue.

The idea to shift to seafood came to Bouargoub after noticing the lack of neighborhood options. While Hyde Park has a few carryout chains offering fried fish and shrimp, there hasn’t been a sit-down restaurant dedicated to, say, panko-crusted, Faroe Islands-sourced salmon.

Credit: Jamie Nesbitt Golden / Block Club Chicago
The bar at Red Fish, Bleu Fish.

“I have a meat place [Porkchop], but we were missing seafood,” Bouargoub said. “And I love pasta, so we added pasta to it.”

Red Fish’s pasta dishes are prepared Mediterranean-style, while seafood offerings are New Orleans-inspired. Menu items range from “Las Olas Tagliolini,” a pasta dish which includes shrimp, shallots, mussels and clams, to a build-your-own seafood boil. There’s also a “street food”-inspired lobster and shrimp burrito.

“We wanted to have options for everyone,” said Bouragoub, who added that Red Fish has vegan-friendly dishes as well, including wild mushroom pea risotto.

Bouargoub has partnered with nearby Hyatt Place to offer hotel guests a chance to experience Red Fish, Bleu Fish, and he hopes to add brunch service soon.

The restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

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