The Drake (restaurant)

Street Address: 
Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL

Culled from: Drury, John. Dining in Chicago, New York: The John Day Company, 1931, pp. 138-140.

Note: The Newberry Library holds the personal papers of author John Drury.

THE DRAKE, Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue

First and foremost of the Avenue eating establishments catering to Chicago's social world is the main dining room of the Drake Hotel. The location of the hotel, of course, has much to do with the high prestige of the dining room, being at the head of Michigan Avenue and dominating the Lake Shore Drive Gold Coast, which sweeps northward in an imposing curve of trees and tall apartment hotels along the shore of Lake Michigan. Incidentally, no other dining room in town offers a more beautiful metropolitan view than the one to be seen through the spacious windows along the north wall of the Drake dining room.

Huge, impressive, decorated in the Italian Renaissance style, with plenty of veined marble columns and gorgeous glass chandeliers, and soothed by the dulcet strains of the Drake Concert Ensemble, this rendezvous of the Four Hundred and such visiting celebrities as happen to be stopping at the Drake (and most of them stop there), comes to its most active life at dinner time — and mainly during "the season." Then, tuxedos and low-necked gowns are in abundance; the atmosphere is gay and swanky and cosmopolitan; and the debutantes and dandies are having the time of their lives. The cuisine, of course, is of the highest quality and the a la carte menu is more like a catalogue than a folder.

Historic banquets have been held in this dining room in honor of world-renowned celebrities. Gazing upon such a magnificent dining hall, you regret that old John B. Drake, founder of the Drake dynasty in Chicago, is not alive to stage in this place one of his far-famed annual game dinners that made his Grand Pacific Hotel (now gone) the talk of the country back in the seventies.

For luncheon, however, many of the millionaires and dowagers and others prefer the smaller Lantern Room, which overlooks Michigan Avenue. Here, you may see the interesting French wall lanterns which Mrs. John B. Drake II installed and which are replicas of ones she had seen in an old chateau in France. A striking silvered frieze, depicting various medieval sports and games, is also of interest, and so are the figurines of gay-colored candy which decorate each table and which are the work of Jacques Czerwinski, product of Parisian art schools and kitchens.

While an orchestra plays, you may enjoy that delicious Drake luncheon specialty, eggs Becker, created by the late Chef Becker of the Blackstone Hotel (owned by the Drake interests) and consisting of eggs and diced lobster in Newburg sauce, served on toast. But there is a varied selection of other ready dishes and all of them, prepared under the skillful eye of Chef Theo Rooms, would meet the hearty approval of the most fastidious of epicures. The Lantern Room is open for breakfast, luncheon, dinner, and supper dances, and the prices are not extraordinarily high. And the service is truly a tribute to the genius of Chicago's most noted maitre d'hotel Eric Dahlberg.

The Drake Italian restaurant, on the ground floor, reminiscent of a low crypt in some old Tuscan villa, is the popular-priced eating room of the hotel, table d'hote luncheons being served here for 85 cents and table d'hote dinners for $1.50. The sea food Louisiane and lamb rack Parmesan are notable specialties of the Italian restaurant.

Eric Dahlberg




1931 - 1931



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