Drake Hotel to close famed Cape Cod restaurant at year’s end

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Detail of the Cape Cod Room at the Drake Hotel. | COURTESY OF THE DRAKE HOTEL

An era in Chicago fine dining will be coming to a close as the Drake Hotel announces the closing of its famed Cape Cod Room restaurant following New Year’s Eve service on Dec. 31. The restaurant was known for its “Land and Sea” New England-inspired seafood menu, and classic cocktails. It has been in continuous operation since 1933.

The Drake Hotel overlooks Oak Street Beach in this 1979 file photo. | SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

The Drake Hotel overlooks Oak Street Beach in this 1979 file photo. | SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

The hotel, at 140 E. Walton, opened in 1920 in a distinctive landmark building in Chicago’s Gold coast. A renovation of the hotel is planned, which called for the restaurant’s closure.

Below is the statement posted on the hotel/restaurant’s website announcing the news:

As the Drake prepares for a historic renovation, Cape Cod will be permanently closing on Jan 1, 2017. Please join us for the remainder of 2016 to dine on traditional Land & Sea dishes including our last dinner service on New Year’s Eve. Thank you to our patrons for making the Cape Cod an icon in Chicago for 83 years. After the Cape Cod closing, its iconic dishes including Bookbinder soup, oysters Rockefeller, crab cakes, Cape Cod seafood boil and baked Alaska, will be featured menu items in the Coq d’Or Restaurant & Lounge, for you to continue to enjoy.

A 1994 Sun-Times review of the restaurant noted:

No one can match the finesse with which manager/maitre d’ Patrick Bredin handles a dining room, the way the professional service staff handle their work with ease and aplomb (there’s not a turned-up nose in the place). Few places can match the comfort and pleasantness of the Cape Cod Room. It’s like an old shoe that fits comfortably and never seems to wear out. Quality? Tops. Seafood that is never less than impeccably fresh and properly prepared is the order of the day every day. Just to watch one of the room captains bone a Dover sole with the deftness of a surgeon is a treat. But then, some of them have been at it for more than 30 years.

The Bookbinder soup, named after the Bookbinder restaurant in Philadelphia, was described by the late Sun-Times restaurant critic Pat Bruno as “a classic of good taste, with a multitude of flavors… richly aromatic and a perfect warmer for a winter’s eve.”

An assortment of the restaurant’s memorabilia will also be preserved, including the wood bar, which still boasts the carved initials of newlyweds Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.

The initials of newlyweds Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe in 1954 are still visible in the wood bar at the Drake Hotel’s Cape Cod Room. | COURTESY OF THE DRAKE HOTEL

The initials of newlyweds Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe in 1954 are still visible in the wood bar at the Drake Hotel’s Cape Cod Room. | COURTESY OF THE DRAKE HOTEL

For Cape Cod room reservations (while they last), call (312) 787-2200 or visit Open Table.

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