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- Cuisines: American, French
The Pump Room is definitely an iconic Chicago restaurant, but these days its main draw is nostalgia -- not the food. Back when celebrities journeyed by train between Hollywood and New York, stopping in Chicago to court the press, they always had a meal at the Pump Room, located inside the Ambassador East hotel. Diners at Booth One inevitably showed up in the morning papers. Today, the only celebrities you're likely to see here are the photographs of movie stars lining the walls. It's the kind of place that's thought of fondly as a local institution, but a recent turnover of chefs (they've changed chefs almost every year for the past 5 years) has made the cuisine inconsistent.
Like the interior, the menu has had a few makeovers over the years; today the focus is on classic American dishes with a sophisticated twist. Appetizers range from a simple beef tartare or stuffed pumpkin gnocchi to a salad of poached pear, Roquefort, candied hazelnut, and zinfandel dressing. The entrees are upscale but fairly straightforward, including filet mignon with fava-bean puree, truffled carrots, and shiitake mushrooms; braised bison short ribs with white bean cassoulet; and wild Alaskan salmon with artichoke puree, charred red onions, crispy bacon, and olive oil emulsion. There's a live band and dancing every Friday and Saturday night from 8pm to midnight. Because it is located in the Ambassador East hotel, the Pump Room also serves breakfast.
- © Frommer's 2013