You may remember that I paid my first visit to Pump Room earlier this year and fell hard for their fabulous decor, delicious drinks, and absolutely amazing salmon rolls (seriously, they're a game changer!). As I mentioned in my last post, 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. Thanks to a total transformation in 2011 that updated everything from the physical space to the menu, Pump Room is most definitely still the place to be (although sadly, the restaurant of today is decidedly less star-studded).
While a few of Pump Room's original menu items from the Golden Age remain, much of the current menu was recreated by Jean-Gorges' Vongerichten of the highly successful ABC Kitchen during the renovations. Based on the bites I sampled during my spring visit, I knew I absolutely needed to get back over there for more, so of course, I was thrilled when Ashley and I were both recently invited to stop in to try the famed Jean-Georges Icon Menu. We donned our party shoes, grabbed a few of our girlfriends, and met up for what would turn out to be an absolutely epic meal!
This sleek network of lights dubbed "The Constellation" dominates the gorgeous dining room
Of course, we had to start out with a round of cocktails, as you cannot go to Pump Room and not sample some of their amazing drinks! My friend, Barb, chose the aptly named Hell Hath No Fury: Botran Blanco, cilantro-infused rum, flaming green chartreuse, lime, pineapple, and simple syrup (yes, that faint light blue you see on the right/center is an actual flame!).
Ashley and her sister started with a round of margaritas, including the bright Ginger Margarita: Herradura Blanco tequila, Combier Orange, ginger, and lime.
Based on the description alone, I knew I would love this drink - in fact, I loved it so much that I had to sample it three times just to make sure. ;-) Corpse Reviver #2: Langley’s #8 gin, Lillet Blanc, combier orange, and lemon.
Before we even glanced at the Icon menu, we knew we wanted to try out a few appetizers from their regular menu. We started with the 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.
We paired the tuna with a simple and light Ricotta with Strawberry Compote served with grilled sourdough.
After our delicious appetizers, we were finally ready to move on to our selections from the Icon Menu. Based on my glowing review of the Salmon Rolls with crispy sushi rice & chipotle aioli, everyone just had to see if the dish lived up to the hype. As expected, we all swooned over the amazing little bites of sushi heaven! Yes, my second experience with this perfectly seared crispy rice and smooth, buttery salmon was just as fabulous as my first time... in fact, it was so fantastic that this dish has most definitely earned a spot on this year's version of the Best Things I Ate!
We also all chose the Grilled Octopus served with crispy potatoes, smoked paprika & herbs for our second course. I especially enjoyed the crunchy char on the octopus and the bright, peppery paprika sauce.
For their entrées, Ashley, her sister, and Barb all chose the Crispy Skate Salad with tartar sauce...
While I opted for the more traditional and perfectly prepared bowl of Taglietelle Carbonara with smoked bacon, roasted corn, and pecorino.
Because we clearly hadn't ordered enough food, we paired our entrées with a few of Pump Room's side dishes, including the Broccoli Rabe with lemon and mint (the one dish I skipped because broccoli is evil!).
The addictive Crunchy Polenta with fontina and Parmesan.
And finally, my favorite of the sides, the crazy delicious Sautéed Sweet Corn with pecorino and lime.
We ended our spectacular meal by ordering one of each of the dessert options available on the Icon Menu, starting with this surprising flavorful Yuzu Pudding Cake with toasted almond sorbet.
The zesty Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with citrus grapefruit curd and mandarin sorbet.
The positively sinful Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie with malt ice cream. *swoon*
Finally, the crème de la crème (i.e. the dessert I haven't been able to stop thinking about!): the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae with candied peanuts, popcorn, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce.
I absolutely loved everything about Pump Room, from its modern layout to the amazing food and drinks, and can't wait to head for round three 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.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.