Hey now, what’s this? After weeks of gentle prodding, Room 21 finally proffered their menu for public scrutiny. Reviews for Jerry Kleiner’s latest foray into the world of big box dining have been somewhat tepid, at least with respect to the quality and value of the food. However, there are signs that the kitchen is getting it together. Take, for example, the evolution of critical reaction to the chicken confit appetizer ($9). On June 1st, Pat Bruno wrote:
An appetizer called “chicken confit” was a bit of nine-dollar nonsense in my book. A couple of deboned chicken legs that had been cooked to (almost) the confit stage (cooked in its own fat is what confit is all about), meaning falling apart, the chicken was arranged with a piddling amount of frisee so small it wouldn’t serve as a toupee for a canary. Is frisee that expensive that you can’t come up with a nicer portion?
A week, later, David Tamarkin had the following to say about it: “[s]o start with the chicken confit, crispy from being cooked in its own fat. It’s fabulous—the salty, fatty meat melts on the tongue.” This could be a random fluctuation or an issue of personal taste, but better to get better than to get worse.
The menu is somewhat unremarkable new American, with a side of steak. You can get your tuna tartar ($12), rack of lamb ($8), and glazed pork chops ($26) like you can anywhere else, or perhaps opt for one of the five cuts of steak (Diane, two filets, ribeye and strip). But you didn’t come for the food, anyway - you came for the history of the place (during Prohibition, it was the largest liquor warehouse and speakeasy in Chicago), or the decor (Tamarkin, ywho was bored by the food, found the interior design to be quite impressive), or the resulting scene. If you’re on a budget, go for a burger ($12) and fill up on eye candy.