Steakhouse fever seems to have finally peaked in Chicago, but given the number of recent openings and the incredibly competitive marketplace amongst meat-and-shrimp-cocktail-palaces, how can any of them actually stand out? One is making a play for the top of the market: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle will soon debut the Esquire Champagne Room (58 E. Oak St., Gold Coast), a luxury palace of bubbly, caviar, and decadent bites.
“It’s 1,500 square feet of exclusivity,” says Del Frisco’s general manager Don Adams.
The space is part of a massive redesign of the entire Chicago location of Del Frisco’s, in an effort to make the space feel more intimate. The main dining room takes up the second floor of the repurposed Esquire Theater in the Gold Coast. The new Esquire Champagne Room will be on the third floor (formerly a private dining room) and will have its own separate menu and wine list.
Why a champagne room? “Our real skill is wine,” Adams says, citing the location's 1,700-label selection and million-dollar-plus bottle inventory. The new space will have upwards of 50 Champagnes by the bottle and 20 by the glass, and run the whole spectrum “from demi sec to cremant,” as he puts it.
In addition to the bubbles, there will be an appropriately high-end menu, including oysters, raw sea urchin, lobster, foie gras, caviar, a wide variety of crudo and charcuterie, and, perhaps slightly incongruously, a selection of homemade pierogi. (You’ll need those carbs if you’re going to try all three champagne cocktails on the menu.)
The space isn’t intended as a holding pen or a before-dinner drink spot for the restaurant; Adams hopes it will become an evening-long destination, as well as a post-dinner destination for a glass of scotch or a unique glass of vintage wine pulled from a valuable bottle, thanks to the Coravin preservation system. Expect it to soft-open in December and be fully operational by early next year.