Hotel dining may be in flux, but in Chicago at least, hotels have locked down rooftop drinking and dining. The newest locker in the locking-down is IO Urban Roofscape (Godfrey Hotel, 127 W. Huron St., River North, 312-649-2000), where the IO stands not for on/off, input/output, or the moon of Jupiter, but for indoor/outdoor, in reference to the space under a retractable roof on the hotel's fourth-floor terrace.
The chef, Riley Huddleston, plans a lounge menu of dishes constructed of house-made ingredients, such as a smoked salmon flatbread with garlic oil, dill-caper crème fraîche, and chives. Spice-crusted lamb lollipops come individually on the lamb-chop bone. He plans to conjure a version of the french fries he created at the Boise Fry Company in Idaho, where he says the burgers were a side dish for the fries. “They won’t be the exact same fries, but they will be spectacular,” he says.
Huddleston boils his philosophy down to four S words: sensible, sustainable, scientific, satisfaction. For the least self-evident of those bullet points, he explains that precision allows him to rely on everyone on his staff. “We have all the cool tools. A refractometer for drinks and pastries or sorbets. [I can] measure my sugar levels so it won’t melt too fast. Consistency will be there; pH is going to be a huge thing. I have alcoholometers to level alcohol level in crafted drinks. Same every time,” he says. Those drinks will include a brandy Alexander and a Woodford Reserve mint julep.
Two bars and a two-story fire pit nestle into the space, along with something called “modern stingray-inspired cabana canopies,” which we look forward to understanding. The space also holds a water wall and a video wall, but they’re two separate walls, unlike the fountain in Millennium Park. If all goes well, the 360-seat, 15,000-square-foot space opens in still-frigid February, when you might as well call it I Urban Roofscape.