Once upon a time, tucked away on the ground floor of one of Chicago’s most beloved hotels, a Midwesterner could experience a little piece of olde New England. When the Drake Hotel’s Cape Cod Room opened in 1932, it was an over night sensation. It’s locale, adjacent to the lake shore, was superb. The fish, transported by refrigerated express, was the freshest in town. And the decor! Rough hewn timbers, deep leather booths, picnic checked curtains & table cloths were exactly the kind of back lot Americana a Hollywood obsessed public adored. It’s patrons, accustomed to steak & chop houses, delighted at the crisp preparations of down east favorites. Even now, giving it the once over, what’s not to love?
For decades, the Cape Cod Room & its rustic environs played host to fancy people dining on fancy fare discussing fancy things. Things like, say, how to detect forged scrimshaw. Perhaps that’s what Marilyn Monroe & Joe DeMaggio were discussing the evening they carved their initials into the long wooden bar? We’ll never know. What we do know is that a tiff begun shortly thereafter over the market price of lobster eventually ended their brief, but brightly burning romance. Or maybe not! Anywho! More photos of the Cape Cod Room…
Fast forward to 2016. The Drake Hotel and it’s signature Cape Cod Room were both, well, droopy. Corporate management had let the details that attracted the stars of old go. For the Cape Cod Room it was the end of the line. Decades of uninspired updates stripped its decor of back lot glamour. A catch of ever decreasing quality accompanied a menu of ever increasing price. In a city with an exploding restaurant scene, the old thing just couldn’t compete. On December 31st, 2016 the Cape Cod Room served its last lobster. The quirky space that delighted generations of Chicagoans was gutted & it’s future is unknown.
On a lighter note! For those desirous of capturing the Cape Cod Room’s Golden Age, here’s a fun recipe for Shrimp Pilaf from Better Homes and Garden’s “Famous Foods from Famous Places”. If you try it, drop a line in the comments section & let us know how it goes!