Restaurant Reflections: The Pump Room (Chicago, IL)

Fork rating: 4-1/2 forks

A few weeks ago I was in Chicago, visiting my sisters. We had a “sisters reunion” and when you have 4 sisters living in 4 different time zones, you have to make time to meet. We had a lovely weekend, but the most impressive was our dinner at The Pump Room in downtown Chicago.

I had told my sisters that I would treat them to a fancy dinner when we met, so this was it. I actually didn’t know about the restaurant, but Julie recalled that it was a famous place so I went online and made reservations. (Thank god for Open Table!)

The Pump Room is located inside the Ambassador East Hotel. It’s an old style hotel, with doormen and valet parking. It’s located on a side street off the Magnificent Mile. The restaurant itself has pictures all over the entry way and in the bar of the famous people who have dined there. After looking at these pictures, I realized this place is really famous. I mean, the stars who have dined there since it opened in 1938 are mind-boggling.

We were seated at a round table and this was something that I wasn’t so thrilled with: the table was simply too large for 4 people. However, I didn’t see any other tables that seated 4 more intimately (without sitting on each other’s laps) so we stayed there.

The other thing that makes me give this restaurant 4-1/2 forks rather than 5 is that there was live music in the bar. I think that if you’re in the bar and have come to hear the music, you think it’s great. When you’re at dinner and trying to have a conversation, it’s extremely difficult. Combine the loud music with the overly large table, and conversation was a toughie. We managed, though. 😉

I think that parts of the menu change frequently, so I can only tell you what we had. Leonie and Kris decided to order a number of appetizers as their meal. Between them, they had lobster bisque, foie gras, shrimp, salad and some other things that I don’t remember. Julie and I both started with lobster bisque and then had a marveous rib-eye steck for our main course. We had a vegetable cassoulet and some “truffled frites” as our side dishes. I had a lovely glass of merlot to accompany my meal.

Dessert was wonderful, but in typical Phyllis fashion, it’s too far back in my memory and I can’t recall what it was. The coffee was good, too, nice and hot.

One funny story did occur because of our dinner at The Pump Room. When Julie went back to work, she told her colleagues where she’d dined and not one of them had ever been there, so (as she put it) she was a minor celebrity for a day! Glad we could make that happen for her!

I would like to go to The Pump Room again, but I’d like to have a more intimate table and no live music.


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