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The Drawing Room

Critics' pick
Photograph: Nick Murway
Cristiana DeLucca mixing drinks at The Drawing Room
Gold Coast

When the troubled Le Passage was being sold, Three Headed Productions hardly seemed like the one to save it. Once a VIP haunt, Le Passage had disintegrated into a breeding ground for B- and C-list celebrities. Nothing against the Three Headed group, but a résumé that includes Cans and Evil Olive didn’t seem to qualify it for anything but more of the same.

Apparently, the Cans crew has grown up, and it’s taken the Drawing Room with it. Housed in the former VIP portion of the club and sporting a new entrance on Rush Street, the Drawing Room is a lounge that works on every level—without even one screaming group of 22-year-old girls.

Most of the credit goes to the menu, which is designed by Shawn McClain. A big fuss is made over the “culinary cocktails” (they cost $14 to $17 and are prepared, awkwardly, tableside), but they’re hit or miss: The Perfect Poire, a cinnamon-laced pear drink, is a hit; the Nooner, a far-too-sweet miss. McClain’s food, on the other hand, is deliciously original. His crab cakes—buttermilk pancakes stuffed with crab and sweet corn (pictured)—are a welcome reprieve from the monotony of the traditional patties. The “fish” in his fish-and-chips are salt cod beignets—crisp on the outside, creamy within and accompanied by a brilliant preserved-lemon aioli. (The “chips,” thin slivers of potato fried with leaves of tarragon, are better to look at than eat.) His burger, a tender hunk of braised short rib on a bun, is a little hard to eat (you’ll likely need a knife and fork), but the rich meat is offset by sweet shallots so harmoniously that you won’t want your meal to end.

Of course, it will, and perhaps even sooner than you expect—so far, there is no dessert menu. But chief bartender Charles Joly has you covered with his menu of seasonal digestifs. Sipping on a warm cider-and-calvados cocktail or sweet and nutty walnut-pear-sage cordial is a much more grown-up way to end things anyway.

Venue name: The Drawing Room
Address: 937 N Rush St
Chicago

Cross street: between Walton and Oak Sts
Venue phone: 312-266-2694
Website: http://thedrchicago.com
Opening hours: Tue–Thu 5pm–midnight; Fri 5pm–3am; Sat 5pm–4am (closed Sun, Mon)
Transport: El stop: Red to Chicago, Red to Clark/Division. Bus: 10, 22, 36, 125, 143, 146, 147, 148, 151.
Price: Average cocktail: $13
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