CHICAGO -- The venerable Pump Room has been reborn as Booth One, which embraces much of the history and glamor of its storied ancestor.
The dining room retains the overhead globe lights of the Pump Room's last iteration, but the wattage has been dialed down and an ivory-and-cream palette added. Chairs are padded in leather, and the Pump Room's storied VIP table, Booth One, has been re-created, right down to its exclusive private phone. I wonder how many of today's celebrities know how to work one of these.
The upper level is where you'll find dozens of framed photos of celebrity guests, and part of the fun here is trying to recognize all the famous faces.
The menu is a mix of old and new; there's a Caesar salad, but it's called the Sir Graham salad, after chef Graham Elliot, and uses his famous cheese-stuffed Twinkie croutons as part of the dish. Starters also include a fine salad of golden beets, quinoa and watercress, set above whipped yogurt, and for a more contemporary touch there's a crudo of Japanese snapper and uni, with a passion fruit aji amarillo sauce.
Instead of classic steak au poivre, there's tuna au poivre, pepper crusted outside but virtually raw in the center, alongside three cloud-like pommes souffle. Chicken fritesis a simple dish – crispy roasted chicken with Kennebeck fries – but it's delicious, helped along by a rich chicken jus and bearnaise sauce
One of the star entrees is called Crispy Duck, and consists of two very large duck legs, with crisp skin and fork-tender meat. Underneath is a melange of diced apples, rutabaga, celery root and an apple-mustard sauce; it's wonderful.
Desserts mix classic and contemporary elements. The chocolate-coconut cake layers devil's food cake and coconut mousse; there's plenty of shredded coconut on top, and a pool of hot fudge below. On the lighter side is this lemon meringue napoleon, a fresh take on lemon meringue pie made with lemon curd, candied lemon and torched meringue.
I give Booth One, 1301 North State Parkway, three stars. Booth One is no place for bargain hunters, but then again, neither was the Pump Room. And it's nice to see glamor return to this space.