Le Passage & The Drawing Room

To be successful in a competitive market like Chicago, nightclubs and lounges need to continuously evolve. Just like our restaurant environment has gained worldwide recognition for its creativity, the nightlife scene is morphing from beer-and-a-shot holes in the wall or thump-thump-thump pick-up joints to spots aiming for a more sophisticated clientele.

Last week I attended the VIP Grand Reopening of Le Passage Discotheque and its new dining concept, The Drawing Room. I should confess that I don’t normally visit clubs. I’m a bit older than the usual crowd they draw (the female crowd, anyway), I’ve had too many “A Night At The Roxbury” hey-baby experiences, and I honestly don’t want to spend $11 for a Bacardi & Diet. Two things convinced me that I should check out this reincarnation: the hand-delivered gift bag containing a martini shaker and my invitation, and Shawn McClain. No, the chef of Spring, Green Zebra and Custom House fame didn’t personally invite me. He’s the creative force behind The Drawing Room’s small plates menu (executed by his protege Nicholas Lacasse).

I attended last Thursday with a good friend, and we started with glasses of champagne and gazed over the interior. It had a sumptuous feel, yet seemed comfortable due to the abundance of couches and chairs. We turned the corner and made our way to the dining room.

After a short wait we were seated at a corner table, and Daniel approached us and mentioned that we would be served a prix fixe 3-course meal from the small plates menu. We looked over the specialty cocktails list, which he explained hearkens back to post-Prohibition-era, with classics like the Negroni and Sidecar.

The Drawing Room seats 55, and is spaced enough to allow bartenders to wheel carts directly to the table. I mentioned to Charles Joly, our table-side bartender and an Executive General Manager of Three Headed Productions, that this concept of culinary cocktails seemed similar to The Violet Hour (and I meant that as a compliment). He said theirs is more of a speakeasy, and The Drawing Room is more personalized and brings the drinks to you. It’s a fine distinction, and basically unnecessary. Chicago’s big enough for two spots featuring cocktails made with fresh, house-made ingredients.

The cuisine was, as I expected, delightful. The three courses included seared ahi tuna bruschetta, prosciutto and crispy on the outside fluffy on the inside fried potato cubes, and our favorite, ribs and slaw. We wondered how we were going to eat those in our fancy clothes and made-up faces, but the meat practically fell off the bone.

The Drawing Room brings another late night dining option to the Gold Coast. The table-side drink service only lasts until around 12:30, but if you get hungry while you’re dancing the night away in the discotheque, the menu is served until 4am. There will even be a separate entrance off Rush Street so whether you visit Le Passage or not, you can enjoy an alternative to Dublin’s, Tempo, or the myriad of pizza and burger joints in the Gold Coast.

Le Passage & The Drawing Room
937 N Rush St






Leave a Reply