Chicago’s booming rooftop scene gets a new entrant this week from the people behind one of the city’s most-acclaimed new restaurants. The team behind Pacific Standard Time — the California-themed spot in River North that’s Eater Chicago’s reigning Restaurant of the Year and one of America’s best new restaurants — opens the Laurel Room on Thursday, their seasonal, breezy rooftop lounge and eatery on the eighth floor above the restaurant at 640 N. LaSalle Drive.
Like the ground-floor James Beard Award-winning restaurant design, the Laurel Room has a relaxed warm-weather West Coast vibe complete with hints of California architecture, an array of plant life, relaxed seating options, and a selection of light food and drink options. The space seats 78 total at lounge seating, tables, and a bar. An overhang and the aforementioned plants offer shade and cover to some of the space, while other parts are in the open air for those looking to catch some rays.
The tight menu upstairs focuses on seafood, which come in the form of tempura fried rockfish tacos, raw selections such as a house seafood cocktail. Non-fish options include Latin-tinged bar snacks, three other types of tacos, and sweets such as a house bourbon-peanut drumstick ice cream cone.
The drinks menu is extensive for a rooftop. It has four types of spritzes including an Italian mojito option, two types of margaritas and an Oaxacan old fashioned highlight six house cocktails, and a frozen yerba mai tai should be popular. More drink options include a house sangria, six beers, and an extensive wine list of California and Mediterranean varieties. Patrons eschewing booze can drink hibiscus agua frescas and a spiced pineapple tepache.
The surrounding area is ground zero for Chicago’s rooftop boom, which has ballooned in recent years and has plenty of options nearby. But operated by acclaimed chef Erling Wu-Bower in partnership with perhaps Chicago’s most-acclaimed restaurant group — One Off Hospitality — the Laurel Room should set itself apart from the pack.
Take a look around and read the menu below — its first service begins on Thursday at 3 p.m. The seasonal space should be open until mid-October.