I recently dined at the Drawing Room, a "culinary cocktail lounge" with a bit of an exclusive feel to it. The entrance is simply a door just to the right of Le Colonial. A staff member guarding the door confirmed the reservation and pointed me down a stairway leading into the classy, subterranean dining room.
Upon being seated, the waiter explained that the Drawing Room focuses on table side presentation of handcrafted cocktails. A cocktail cart was wheeled to the table and a mixologist explained the ingredients in the cocktail being prepared while offering tastes and whiffs of unusual ingredients. The preparation and attention to detail of the creative cocktails reminded me of the Violet Hour.
To drink, trifecta, an herbaceous blend of cilantro, mint, and basil with cachaca, white (bianco) vermouth, lime juice, and lemon oil. Have you had white vermouth before? The nose is herbal and reminiscent of olives but it tastes like sweet wine on the palate with hints of rose and vanilla. The drink was so green, it felt healthy.
Reading through the menu, I was quite pleased with the focus on seasonal ingredients: rainbow carrots, ramps, sunchoke puree, pea tendrils, baby beets, baby spring onions, and meyer lemons! Oh my!
Overall the food was good, not great. Nonetheless we had a fun time.
To start, tempura guacamole with red onion, tomato, cumin seeds, and cilantro coulis. Sadly, it was not nearly as tasty as it sounds. The creamy avocado was lost inside the less-than-crisp tempura. Even after adding the juice of grilled key limes, the bites lacked flavor and salt.
To dine, polenta two ways- grilled cakes and creamy polenta with fontina, topped with sauteed oyster mushrooms, baby spring onions, and asparagus, and drizzled with a parsley white wine sauce. The dish was packed with flavor and satisfying, slightly bordering on too rich and large.
To finish, white chocolate creme brulee topped with a berry compote. Not overly sweet (surprising given the white chocolate), the tartness of the berry compote balanced the creamy dessert.
the Drawing Room
937 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611