The original Pump Room, which opened nearly 80 years ago in the Gold Coast’s Ambassador Chicago, was a place to see and be seen. Frank Sinatra and Audrey Hepburn dined there, and the restaurant’s entrance and hotel lobby are seen in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller “North by Northwest.”
Last month, the storied restaurant reopened with a new name and a not-so-new owner. The Melman family of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises took over once again — they owned the spot from 1976 to 1998 — renaming it Booth One, an ode to the dining room’s historic VIP-only table. The namesake booth is still there, reserved for special guests, who can even call the bar from a vintage rotary-dial phone.
Here’s what else to expect at Booth One:
Act up: The updated design incorporates the space’s famed globe lights. “We loved the way they looked, but they were so low, people would hit their heads on them,” says Molly Melman, partner and daughter of LEYE founder Rich Melman. “We added more, [raised] them and put dimmers in. It was important to us to have a certain glow in the room.” The Melmans also created a stage in the space for impromptu performances (Chance the Rapper even surprised guests on opening night).
Set the bar: The elevated bar area features lounge seating and high-top tables. “It’s something my dad always talked about when he ran this [space] back in the ’80s — the bar was just magical,” Melman says. “We wanted to make it a lot bigger, so you could be sitting at one end of the bar and see someone from across the room.” Order the Blushing Bramble, a creative cocktail of vodka, Marie Framboise, lemon and soda ($11) or the Days in Esperanza with London Dry gin, 12-year rum, Campari, grapefruit and lime ($13).
Classic take: Chef Doug Psaltis crafted a menu with reimagined yet nostalgic dishes rich in flavor — think lobster cappuccino with tarragon butter ($11.95), black truffle scrambled eggs with butter-poached crab ($23.95) and beef Wellington with mushroom bordelaise ($35.95). Don’t miss the roast chicken frites, served with perfectly crispy Kennebec fries and roasting jus ($26.95).
1301 N. State, (312) 649-0535; Boothone.com
Pictured at top: the seafood collection, $32.95; Photos by Christina Slaton