The Pump Room | Gold Coast/Mag Mile/Streeterville | Contemporary/Regional | Restaurant
New Yorker Ian Schrager's "democratized" remake of the legendary celebrity haunt.

Our Review

There was a time long ago when we, the uncelebrated and sartorially indolent, might have been denied reservations, let alone rock-star seating at the coveted Booth One, with its ivory rotary phone and commanding view of the room. But at the new Pump Room, as resurrected by boutique hotel impresario Ian Schrager (he of Studio 54 fame), the servers are in denim too, along with spotless Chuck Taylors. Those are just two signals of Schrager's ballyhooed "democratization of luxury" in his transformation of the erstwhile Ambassador East into Public Chicago. Schrager's idea of menu democracy was to enlist Alsatian emperor-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who brought with him a preexisting concept—much of the menu is derived from his ABC Kitchen, in Manhattan. It's a something-for-everyone list, which includes pizzas and pastas and a scant few remnants of the original Pump Room's menu. From it, I shared meals of such wildly divergent execution that I can't say for sure what's going on in the kitchen. Items such as a roast carrot salad with bean sprouts and avocado, or fresh crab and lemon aioli toast dripping with butter, or a simple but dramatic oven-roasted whole split lobster worked particularly well. So it's hard to understand a small plate of shrimp mined with empty broken shells, rings of calamari overfried to ashlike consistency, and a pizza crust sogged to the bottom with the fluid from undercooked mushrooms. Celebrities may still head to the Pump Room. The question is whether it's delivering enough to attract the rest of us. Read the full review >>

Mike Sula

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Price: $$$
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