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pump room [closed]
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    Post #1 - November 12th, 2005, 10:25 pm
    Post #1 - November 12th, 2005, 10:25 pm Post #1 - November 12th, 2005, 10:25 pm
    Has anyone been to the Pump Room lately? I am scheduled for a December dinner there and appreciate comments.
  • Post #2 - February 15th, 2007, 9:37 pm
    Post #2 - February 15th, 2007, 9:37 pm Post #2 - February 15th, 2007, 9:37 pm
    Mrs. JiLS and I supped at the Pump Room this Valentine's, and let me say, this was perhaps the best fancy-pants dining experience we've ever enjoyed. If you've never been (my story before last night) or haven't been in 25 years (seemingly the story of everyone else in Chicago), then you really ought to get there, now or again, as the case may be.

    The food was excellent, costly, rich and elegantly presented. This being Valentine's, it was a prix fixe, and therefore probably not worth going through item-by-item, as it won't be repeated. But suffice to say, it was expertly done, and there were huge, luscious scallops; lobster; a crispy pork belly concoction that even won over Mrs. JiLS (squeamish at first, later snarfing with abandon); various other bits of fish and meat, with oh-so-very slightly amped up/modernized saucing and presentations. Paired wines were very well chosen (especially, a Baaka Valley red paired with the an olive-paste covered bread with the salad course, a bright Vouvray with the fish course, and a Walla Walla Cab served with the lamb course that was seriously good; wish I'd remembered to ask for the wine card, but alas). Again, just the sort of thing you expect to get served when you sit your fancy-pantsed posterior in one of the overstuffed, brocade-backed booths at the Pump Room.

    The room itself is spiffy and elegant. The service was incomparable and without flaw (and I mean that, seriously. Those who know me, know my appreciation for truly professional service, and that, sir or madam, is what was on offer at the Pump Room last night). The pianist was remarkably worth listening to (apparently they had frozen Bill Evans in 1980 and thawed out at least his hands for the occasion). And the crowd (including many obvious regulars in the bar) were convivial and the whole mis en scene got to me, such that --- for at least a moment -- this Hoosier boy actually felt like a real, born and bred Chicagoan. For that's what the Pump Room really is: a pure piece of Chicago. To the extent they may have had a decline in the past few years (decades), that's all over now. Or was last night. We are anxious to find the right excuse to get back. Maybe VI will let me borrow his Kup jacket.
    JiLS
  • Post #3 - February 16th, 2007, 11:13 am
    Post #3 - February 16th, 2007, 11:13 am Post #3 - February 16th, 2007, 11:13 am
    Great to hear, thanks. In addition to all of the humble places without a marketing budget, this forum is a great resource regarding places that time and the press forgot, or gave up on.
  • Post #4 - February 16th, 2007, 3:42 pm
    Post #4 - February 16th, 2007, 3:42 pm Post #4 - February 16th, 2007, 3:42 pm
    I've never dined there :(, but have to add that The Pump Room is one of my few fave cocktail spots in the city.
    "Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman
  • Post #5 - February 16th, 2007, 4:08 pm
    Post #5 - February 16th, 2007, 4:08 pm Post #5 - February 16th, 2007, 4:08 pm
    JiLS, thanks for the report. I'm dimly remembering that I heard awhile ago Lettuce Entertain You was taking over (and revamping) the Pump Room. Is that what happened?
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #6 - February 16th, 2007, 4:39 pm
    Post #6 - February 16th, 2007, 4:39 pm Post #6 - February 16th, 2007, 4:39 pm
    Josephine wrote:JiLS, thanks for the report. I'm dimly remembering that I heard awhile ago Lettuce Entertain You was taking over (and revamping) the Pump Room. Is that what happened?


    That happened many years ago. I think they still operate it, but have probably revamped once or twice since their origninal takeover.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #7 - May 27th, 2007, 10:11 pm
    Post #7 - May 27th, 2007, 10:11 pm Post #7 - May 27th, 2007, 10:11 pm
    Friday night (5/25/07), Mrs. JiLS and I enjoyed cocktails and dinner at the Pump Room. Not as extravagant as our Valentine's bash, described above, nevertheless this was a wonderful meal, again highlighted by the very highest level of service. That included the wine service; the Pump Room's sommelier is a remarkably informed, charming and hard-working young woman. And with a prodigious memory. Anyway, we had a great Penfolds cab (1997, Bin 707) that was decanted and served with utmost care and style and was a perfect match for a very beef-heavy meal. Dinner highlights included a beef tartare served with a beautiful, glistening disk of quail egg atop, a bit under-seasoned for my taste (but salt and pepper cured it); a gooey and decadent mess on the fork. Another highlight was the short ribs, which were soft as butter, equally rich and with a delightfully crunchy salt crust.

    As great as that dinner was (and it was), the dining highlight of our weekend came Saturday night around 11:00, at the Pump Room's bar, the night after our actual dinner there, and after we had digested our meal at Spiaggia. Namely, the truffled frites. This deep bowl of french fries is worth twice the $8.00 charged. I thought I'd found the pot of french fry gold at the end of the rainbow in Gene & Judes, but let me assure you, they don't even remotely compare to these overwhelmingly tasty frites. Almost unbelievably crisp, the frying process apparently has been perfected to create a crystalline oil-adsorption structure that allows about a half pint of black truffle oil to soak into the fries without impairing the perfect crispness or overpowering the potato flavor one bit. The night of fitful tossing and fevered dreams was worth it for this. And the setting is just plain fabulous.
    Last edited by JimInLoganSquare on May 28th, 2007, 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    JiLS
  • Post #8 - May 28th, 2007, 9:40 am
    Post #8 - May 28th, 2007, 9:40 am Post #8 - May 28th, 2007, 9:40 am
    JimInLoganSquare wrote:Friday night (5/25/07), Mrs. JiLS enjoyed cocktails and dinner at the Pump Room. Not as extravagant as our Valentine's bash, described above, nevertheless this was a wonderful meal, again highlighted by the very highest level of service. That included the wine service; the Pump Room's sommelier is a remarkably informed, charming and hard-working young woman. And with a prodigious memory. Anyway, we had a great Penfolds cab (1997, Bin 707) that was decanted and served with utmost care and style and was a perfect match for a very beef-heavy meal. Dinner highlights included a beef tartare served with a beautiful, glistening disk of quail egg atop, a bit under-seasoned for my taste (but salt and pepper cured it); a gooey and decadent mess on the fork. Another highlight was the short ribs, which were soft as butter, equally rich and with a delightfully crunchy salt crust.

    As great as that dinner was (and it was), the dining highlight of our weekend came Saturday night around 11:00, at the Pump Room's bar, the night after our actual dinner there, and after we had digested our meal at Spiaggia. Namely, the truffled frites. This deep bowl of french fries is worth twice the $8.00 charged. I thought I'd found the pot of french fry gold at the end of the rainbow in Gene & Judes, but let me assure you, they don't even remotely compare to these overwhelmingly tasty frites. Almost unbelievably crisp, the frying process apparently has been perfected to create a crystalline oil-adsorption structure that allows about a half pint of black truffle oil to soak into the fries without impairing the perfect crispness or overpowering the potato flavor one bit. The night of fitful tossing and fevered dreams was worth it for this. And the setting is just plain fabulous.


    The frites sound drool-worthy; one of my favorite things about The Pump Room Bar is the snack tray including truffled popcorn.
    "Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman
  • Post #9 - May 28th, 2007, 7:40 pm
    Post #9 - May 28th, 2007, 7:40 pm Post #9 - May 28th, 2007, 7:40 pm
    I, like many others, have never been to the Pump Room, but I do know the sommelier there and she is, as Jim said, a very well-informed hard working gal (who also happens to be an LTH member). She also does wine consulting for private parties. Her name is Katy Killian, check out her website at http://www.killianwines.com
  • Post #10 - May 29th, 2007, 8:46 am
    Post #10 - May 29th, 2007, 8:46 am Post #10 - May 29th, 2007, 8:46 am
    Just saw a writeup somewhere (Time Out Chicago, maybe?) about the chef at the Pump Room. Mentioned that they have problems getting diners in the restaurant, though the bar maintains a study clientele, and that it's a damn shame because the chef knows what he's doing.

    Dad's 65th is coming up, and the menu looks up his alley; am I correct in assuming that they could make it a pretty special evening if we mentioned the occasion to them?

    Other restaurants in the mix are MK and Crofton on Wells, both of which I've been to before. It'll be four folks in their 50s and 60s, then little ol' me (mid 20s).

    JiLS, you've been recently; think it would fit the bill?
  • Post #11 - January 7th, 2010, 4:01 pm
    Post #11 - January 7th, 2010, 4:01 pm Post #11 - January 7th, 2010, 4:01 pm
    >>The Ambassador East Hotel announced the landmark [Pump Room] restaurant is being "downsized," a result of the growing problem with our stalled economy.
    Paul Lauritsen, general manager of the Ambassador East hotel located on Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast, blames today's changing tastes and says the dining room will be closed except for private events, while the bar and lounge will remain in operation, featuring a "lighter fare bistro menu...."
    The dining room already abruptly shut down for good last weekend.<< (1/6/10)

    http://nwitimes.com/entertainment/colum ... 0007e.html

    Also reported on ABC 7 Chicago and in the Sun-Times....

    I didn't know if this news warranted a whole new thread, but the dedicated Pump Room thread has sat dormant for a number of years--perhaps an early indication of the recent action to "downsize." (This is also an indication--to me, at least--that we still need some sort of central thread for "Openings and Closings," etc.)

    Edited to correct info on original Pump Room thread from 2005.
    "Life is a combination of magic and pasta." -- Federico Fellini

    "You're not going to like it in Chicago. The wind comes howling in from the lake. And there's practically no opera season at all--and the Lord only knows whether they've ever heard of lobster Newburg." --Charles Foster Kane, Citizen Kane.
  • Post #12 - January 7th, 2010, 5:08 pm
    Post #12 - January 7th, 2010, 5:08 pm Post #12 - January 7th, 2010, 5:08 pm
    I have mixed emotions about the closing of the Pump Room. I had some fun meals there, including brunch after having spent my wedding night at the Ambassador east. However, the last two meals that I had there, both more than 10 years ago, were two of the worst meals of my life, with service so bad on both occasions that it was laughable. Still, sad to see a Chicago institution go.

    -Will
  • Post #13 - January 7th, 2010, 5:20 pm
    Post #13 - January 7th, 2010, 5:20 pm Post #13 - January 7th, 2010, 5:20 pm
    WillG wrote:I have mixed emotions about the closing of the Pump Room. I had some fun meals there, including brunch after having spent my wedding night at the Ambassador east. However, the last two meals that I had there, both more than 10 years ago, were two of the worst meals of my life, with service so bad on both occasions that it was laughable. Still, sad to see a Chicago institution go.

    Yeah, I have some very fond memories of Pump Room but you really can't go home again.

    Here's to the memories, though.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #14 - January 7th, 2010, 5:38 pm
    Post #14 - January 7th, 2010, 5:38 pm Post #14 - January 7th, 2010, 5:38 pm
    A family member recently spent the weekend at the Ambassador East and reported that the hotel had gone dowhill considerably since his last visit about 8 years ago. In fact, he was told that room service was being discontinued during his stay and after speaking with several staff members he got the impression that the hotel itself was going to be closed shortly. He also had a a few very poor experiences with meals at the Pump Room during that recent stay (the biggest offense being eggs benedict served with well-done eggs.)

    It's too bad that this Chicago landmark seems to be suffering so greatly. Although I wonder if part of the problem is also an ownership that is completely disinterested in maintaining the formerly strong reputation the hotel used to have in it's better days.
  • Post #15 - January 8th, 2010, 2:17 am
    Post #15 - January 8th, 2010, 2:17 am Post #15 - January 8th, 2010, 2:17 am
    I've been told that Ian Schrager (Studio 54, Delano Hotel) has plans for taking it over.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #16 - January 8th, 2010, 3:48 am
    Post #16 - January 8th, 2010, 3:48 am Post #16 - January 8th, 2010, 3:48 am
    older Jewish crowd, reminds me of Irv Kupcinet, Sidney Korshak, etc.
  • Post #17 - January 8th, 2010, 1:06 pm
    Post #17 - January 8th, 2010, 1:06 pm Post #17 - January 8th, 2010, 1:06 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:I've been told that Ian Schrager (Studio 54, Delano Hotel) has plans for taking it over.


    That possibility was noted in the article I included:
    >> Much has been made in the media in recent months about how The New York City-based Ian Schrager Co. has been bidding to buy the entire Ambassador East, including The Pump Room, of course, to convert it into a more modern and contemporary experience like the chain of properties they own in the Big Apple.

    If you recognize the name Ian Schrager, it's because the 63-year-old business man was the partner of the late Steve Rubell, in developing the wildly popular VIP disco nightclub of the 1970s, Studio 54. <<
    "Life is a combination of magic and pasta." -- Federico Fellini

    "You're not going to like it in Chicago. The wind comes howling in from the lake. And there's practically no opera season at all--and the Lord only knows whether they've ever heard of lobster Newburg." --Charles Foster Kane, Citizen Kane.
  • Post #18 - September 7th, 2017, 2:53 pm
    Post #18 - September 7th, 2017, 2:53 pm Post #18 - September 7th, 2017, 2:53 pm
    Seeking to restore the Pump Room restaurant to its former glory, Lettuce Entertain You founder Rich Melman announced that he will be taking over the historic space at 1301 N. State Parkway, inside the rechristened Ambassador Hotel. Melman's project, due to open this fall, will be named Booth One.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/re ... story.html
    "Sandwiches are wonderful. You don't need a spoon or a plate!"
    Paul Lynde
  • Post #19 - September 7th, 2017, 3:16 pm
    Post #19 - September 7th, 2017, 3:16 pm Post #19 - September 7th, 2017, 3:16 pm
    Dave148 wrote:
    Seeking to restore the Pump Room restaurant to its former glory, Lettuce Entertain You founder Rich Melman announced that he will be taking over the historic space at 1301 N. State Parkway, inside the rechristened Ambassador Hotel. Melman's project, due to open this fall, will be named Booth One.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/re ... story.html

    And Rick Tramanto will be returning to Chicago (from oblivion?) to helm it.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French

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