Booth One, the reimagined Pump Room, opens
Booth One, the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant on the site of the venerable Pump Room, opens today.
(About 100 LEYE gold-level frequent diners were able to experience the new restaurant on Wednesday night; Thursday is the general-public opening.)
Housed in the Ambassador Chicago (1301 N. State Parkway), Booth One represents something of a homecoming for LEYE founder Rich Melman, who owned the Pump Room for 22 years. Lettuce is a contracted operator for Booth One.
“The first time we owned the space, we had five restaurants,” Melman said. “I didn’t know what I was doing. Coming back into the space today, knowing what I know now, I really feel we have a chance to do it better than ever.”
The Booth One name is a nod to the restaurant space’s past. In the Pump Room’s heyday, Booth One was the table available only to top celebrities — the A-pluses on the A-list — and guests would crowd into the restaurant just to see who might be seated there.
And though the restaurant’s stated aim is to see that “everyone will be treated as a celebrity” (Melman’s words), there will be a Booth One within Booth One, available only to a select few and equipped, as was the original Booth One, with a white rotary-dial phone. (One wonders how many contemporary celebrities will know how to operate it.)
Otherwise, Booth One will offer a contemporary look, the palette cream and gold, the windows framed with white curtains. An adjacent bar will have lounge seating and high-top tables. Much attention has been paid, according to Lettuce, to provide conversation-friendly acoustics.
Joining Melman in the project are partners Molly Melman, Sue Kim-Drohomyrecky (also general manager), and the omnipresent chef Doug Psaltis (who oversees numerous Lettuce properties and is the “P” in RPM Steak and RPM Italian).
Psaltis’ menu will include seafood and steaks, along with modern interpretations of nostalgic dishes. Eye-catching dishes include Madai ceviche with sea urchin, passion fruit and aji amarillo sauce; and Asian-inflected salmon tournedos with sesame seeds and Brussels sprouts leaves. For dessert, the Raspberry Kiss combines vanilla mousse and raspberry meringue.
The entire Booth One menu can be viewed here.