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Chicago Area

The Room - 5900 N. Broadway (LONG)

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The Room - 5900 N. Broadway (LONG)

J. Ro | Mar 19, 2004 11:42 AM

I saw The Room recommended on an aging thread about BYOB places, and I want to heartily second the recommendation. I had my first dining experience there on Tuesday and I will not hesitate to recommend it to others and return myself.

Before going to The Room on Tuesday, we called to make sure it would be open. The Room informed me that they were open for dinner and that they would not have trouble seating us if we arrived in ten minutes (at about 6:45 p.m.). I was then asked if I knew that it was BYOB (which in this context meant that they have no liquor license), which I did. Parking was not a problem, which is always refreshing.

The Room is very well-decorated. You enter into a welcoming front bar area with well-spaced upholstered chairs and sofas, as well as an actual bar. I believe this bar section is a smoking area, but it was empty when we were there. Between the bar and the dining section, there are a series of light drapes hanging that are bunched at the bottom. It was not until we were about to leave that I noticed that some (but not all)of the drapes cover what would otherwise be unsightly posts. This clever design element effectively masks an innate characteristic of the space while also making the large space seem more intimate. Well done.

Our server greeted us happily and gladly set about the task of opening and pouring the bottle of wine we brought. The menu was varied, with options ranging from a homey macaroni and cheese with chicken to high end steak. Their soup du jour was French Onion and their entree specials were seared tuna over julienned vegetables and salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes.

We had a few questions about the menu, which were answered graciously. The chicken in the macaroni and cheese is a mixture of white and dark meat, which was no good for Missus Ro (she dislikes the dark, which to me is heresy). The server politely suggested that the macaroni and cheese could be made without the chicken (vegetarians take note), but she wasn't feeling veggie.
I also wanted to know if the seared tuna special could be paired with the wasabi mashed potatoes, which is a favorite side dish of mine. It could.

I had the french onion soup to start. The flavor of the soup was wonderful, but it was non-traditionally served. Instead of being finished in the oven with the baguette and cheese on top, the bread and cheese were served to the side in the form of a toasted focaccia with melted brie. I love the sublime magic of the traditional baked presentation, but it is rarely done to perfection. And when it's done wrong, it can easily turn the entire course into a gloopy mess of stringy cheese. Overcoming my initial disappointment, I plunked the bread/cheese toasts into the soup and ate it all happily and heartily.

Missus Ro had a poached pear, blue cheese, and walnut salad to start. The pear was an Asian red, which was a pleasant visual treat (is this a beet?). The light dressing just coated the greens, and the flavors all married beautifully.

For the entree, I had the seared tuna and wasabi mashed potatoes. The tuna was prepared perfectly, just cooked enough to come apart, but still raw enough to melt in my mouth. The ginger reduction gravy that was laid over it added a gentle zing. The wasabi mashed potatoes were good, but they could have used a little more of a wasabi boost. I understand the risk of overwhelming diners with wasabi pain, but it was only faintly detectable to my wasabi loving tongue.

Missus Ro had a pasta dish with artichoke hearts and peas in a light cream sauce. She enjoyed it and I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day.

We gazed longingly at the dessert menu, but we were too stuffed to engage with the flourless chocolate cake (which would have been my choice) or the unusual cookie dough egg roll stuffed with gelato (which would have been hers).

Our two-course meal ran to $80 including tip, which is a little higher than we were anticipating at the outset. But the dining experience was wonderful. And I will be going back.

The Room
5900 N. Broadway
773-989-7666

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