With drinks named Mr. Grant, Mr. Martin, Mr. Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, you know this place will be a success! I was prepared to be disappointed. I'm an unabashed traditionalist so with all of the plans and rumors swirling about the changes and renovations being made to our/my Pump Room, I was more than a little apprehensive when we were invited to a "soft-opening" last night.
The entryway is not on Goethe anymore, where you used to enter through the lobby to the hotel. Oh yes, you can still enter here but the real (proper) entry is now at the corner of State and Goethe. The simple sign, Pump Room at Public Chicago, is surrounded by high hedges and reminded me of the first time we went to the Delano in South Beach. It has the same cool vibes and the same chic, white, clean looks but still manages to be cozy and inviting. The first thing you see upon entering are those iconic black and white photos....still there, thankfully, but arranged and presented in a fresh, new way. The front desk greets you with a smile and I loved seeing Jay Schuster installed as the restaurant's director. (Formerly from Sepia)
The orbs on the dining room ceiling are what you notice first. They remind you of the planets in the night sky and as the room grew darker, their soft glow lit the room with just the right amount of light. And I was thrilled to see Booth One along with its original white phone was still intact, albeit in a more modern incarnation.
According to the friendly bartender, the place is owned by partners Ian Schrager and Chef Jean George Vongerichten. Chef's menu is a "complete sister" to his menu at his award winning NY restaurant, ABC Kitchen. And it WAS delicious! "Market Table" offerings included roasted beets with homemade yogurt, eggplant toast with marinated peppers, crab toast with lemon aioli and heirloom tomatoes. Appetizers included roast carrot and avocado salad with sour cream and citrus vinaigrette, pretzel dusted calamari with marinara sauce and mustard aioli and salt and pepper shrimp with lemon and basil among others. Pump Room Classic Appetizers included delicious chicken liver toast and fluke ceviche with chilies and lime. Homemade pasta included bowtie pasta with veal meatballs and caramelized onion jus and fettucine with wax beans and pistachio pesto among others. There are multiple pizza offerings and entrees including crispy walleye, fried organic chicken, pork chops, beef tenderloin, whitefish, salmon and burgers. Pump Room Classic Entrees include wiener schnitzel and oven roasted lobster. Desserts include chocolate cake, creme fraiche cheesecake, old-fashioned sundaes, homemade donuts, warm blueberry cornbread crumble, a warm cookie plate or candy bars! From the sampling we tasted, it was ALLLLLLL so delicious!
The old Byfield's is again a cozy bar with a fireplace and glowing back bar. I can see this as a terrific place to meet for a pre-dinner cocktail with friends.
We didn't get a chance to view the changes to the old Ambassador East hotel, now called Public Chicago, but if the restaurant is any indication of what to expect then I think we will all be in for a treat! (Official opening is set for October 11th).
Congrats to Ian and Chef Jean George!
I can't wait to come back for more!!!!!