Chicago Eats: Pump Room Spring Bites | chicago foodie girl


Chicago Eats: Pump Room Spring Bites

Pump Room is one of those iconic Chicago restaurants that was once known as much for its legendary celebrity connections as for the food they served. Located in the same neighborhood as the original Playboy Mansion, the first iteration of the restaurant served as the former stomping grounds for likes of Natalie Wood, Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra (he had his own booth!), and yes, even the Hefners. Back in the day, it was the place to be.

While the 2015 version of the restaurant (Pump Room 2.0?) is decidedly less star-studded, it is still the place to be. Nestled in the chic Public Chicago (formerly the Ambassador East), the modern space would probably be unrecognizable to those who roamed its halls during the Golden Age. The bones of the original hotel remain (evident in the gorgeous molding and elaborate chandeliers), but its 2011 facelift transformed it from the cozy relic your grandparents loved to the uber cool restaurant du jour. Along with the physical transformation, the restaurant also received a menu makeover; while a few of Pump Room's original menu items remain, much of the menu was recreated by Jean-Gorges' Vongerichten of the highly successful ABC Kitchen.

Having never stepped foot in Pump Room (of yesteryear or today), of course, I was pumped (ha!) to check out both the new space and the new menu as soon as WCBC announced its latest Seasonal Bites & Cocktails event would take place at the famed restaurant. 

Before heading up to the gorgeous private outdoor space, I just had to stop by the dining room for a quick tour. The room is dominated by the sleek network of lights dubbed "The Constellation." I think it's fairly well established that I have a thing for fun lighting fixtures and can't stop photographing them, so it's probably a good thing that our event took place outside.

Moving away from that amazing light installation was hard, but the stellar views from the 17th-floor rooftop space made it all worth it!

As we arrived on the rooftop space, we were greeted by cold Caipirinhas served by award-winning mixologist Mea Leech (who once studied under everyone's favorite Chicago mixologist, Charles Joly) and Chef Ross Mendoza.

 Smoked Bacon and Asparagus Flatbread. In my book, you can never go wrong with one of my favorite vegetables paired with salty bacon on a perfectly bubbly, crispy flatbread!

Ramp Toast with goat cheese & black pepper. I loved the combination of the sweet, garlicky ramp butter with the crunchy bread and creamy goat cheese.

West of the Sun: Carpano dry vermouth, Death's Door gin, wasabi, lemon, soy & crystallized ginger

Endive and Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Parmesan dressing

Salmon Rolls with crispy sushi rice & chipotle aioli. This was best salmon roll I've had in ages - as I mentioned on Instagram, it's a game changer!

Lucille's Ball: Xante, Broker's gin, lemon, grapefruit, JCB #69 rose, strawberry-pink peppercorn & strawberry (my favorite cocktail of the evening!)

Tuna Tartare with ginger dressing & radish. I'm typically not a huge fan of radishes (they tend to taste like dirt to me), but these mellow, spicy radishes paired perfectly with the fresh tuna.

Pilot Light: Tromba Blanco tequila, passion-chili puree, blue curacao, Ancho Reyes, Peleton mezcal

Lemon Cheesecake Bites

I absolutely loved everything about the new Pump Room, from its modern layout to the amazing food and drinks, and can't wait to head to back to check out their brunch options (aka my favorite meal of the day)!

You can try all of this deliciousness and more at Pump Room: 1301 N. State Parkway, Chicago, IL.


  1. I love Pump Room! I had dinner there the last two times I was in Chicago. I didn't know there was a rooftop space though--how gorgeous!

  2. I NEED to try those salmon rolls!! What a beautiful presentation they do on all their food too! We need to have dinner here ASAP!!!

    Sed Bona

  3. Can we do this every night this summer? I'll just take a full plate of those salmon rolls to myself :)


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