/ The Chicago Traveler
Chicago — By Lisa Davis on December 30, 2009 at 10:13 am
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Review: Lockwood and Potter’s at The Palmer House Hilton

The Palmer House Hilton (17 E. Monroe St.; map it) is one of Chicago’s grand dame landmarks. (Did you know it was once the largest hotel in the world?) It is also the hotel  where my great, great grandfather Eugene L’Hote spent many nights when he was president of the Illinois Press Association and is now where I dine and soon will sleep and “spa” now that the hotel has completed a much-needed multi-million dollar renovation that included renovating more than 1,000 guest rooms (with French baroque touches) and an 11-room penthouse, as well as adding a Spa Chakra (which I like as a brand – they produce some amazing spas – one of which is in Indianapolis) and a fitness centDining6er.

The hotel also built a new lobby-level restaurant called Lockwood named after Potter Palmer’s wife Bertha Honoré’s beloved brother Lockwood, known for his innovative ideas and positive impact on Chicago’s history, and a new bar that replaced the tiki-inspired Trader Vic’s called Potter’s named after Potter Palmer who originally built the hotel as a gift for his bride, Bertha.

I had a chance to try Lockwood and Potter’s recently. In another post, I will review the hotel’s new rooms and spa. Quick note: Two things about Spa Chakra that I like at their location in Indianapolis are their facial and the assessment they take before doing your  treatment to see which areas of your life (personal, health, etc.) need extra pampering. With the facial, I enjoyed their patented face massage (I almost fell asleep it was so relaxing.) and I liked how they put a warm, down-feathered blanket over me during the facial.

Ok, now on to the food and drinks…..

Lockwood is about contemporary cuisine rooted in French and Italian traditions and is headed by chef extraordinaire Phillip Foss.

Some of my favorite dishes that Foss does brilliantly include the Hot & Cold Tomato appetizer ($12) with consommé, granité, mini caprese, and basil – you get a tomato sorbet with basil that you pour this hot tomato consommé over it to “wake up” the basil and then you add a garlic crousant that soaks up the soap; Canolli  ($12) with prosciutto, crenshaw melon, tarentaise cheese, almond, and truffle honey; and the Slow Cooked Scottish Salmon ($34) with hearts of celery, haricots vert, figs, and walnuts.

For dessert, Executive Pastry Chef Fabrice François Bouet came up with nine to 10 “classy” desserts that are made from scratch, and are also made with a “twist,” such as “caviar” made out of chocolate and pistachio, and a brownie paired with chocolate wine ice cream. Interestingly, the Palmer House Hilton created the brownie 120 years ago when the hotel’s pastry chef was asked to make a dessert that could be taken on a picnic.

Lockwood has a well-edited list of red, white, and sparkling wines and includes 1,200 bottles displayed in a wine tasting room, with 20 selections by the glass.  The list is updated weekly. Lockwood also features regular wine tastings and dinners.

Potter’s is a great place for cocktails and an appetizer.

Some of my favorite cocktails include the Pomegranate Orange Crush with Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka, orange juice, and Ginger Ale; the Strawberry Basil Margarita with Patron Silver, Cointreau, fresh strawberry, and basil balsamic. Both of these cocktails are $13.

I also would recommend the Orange Blossom with Van Gogh Orange Vodka, Gran Marnier, Creme de Cacao, Amaretto, and these delicious Cholives – chocolate olives with a twist of orange juice ($14).

Food wise, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of truffled potato chips ($6); Potter’s bruchetta is “to-die-for” with farmer’s bread that is moist and chewy and comes with three toppings: red and yellow tomatoes; portabella mushrooms; and heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella ($12); the Caprese salad comes with fresh heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and shaved parmesan ($12); and Bertha’s Famous Brownie with a glass of chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream, and a chocolate-shiraz sauce ($10).

Tip: If you do spend the night at The Palmer House Hilton, it is good to know that it is within walking distance to the Art Institute of Chicago, Grant Park, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the upscale stores on Michigan Avenue.

For more information: The Palmer House Hilton, 312-726-7500.

Photo credit: SXC

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    1 Comment

  • heather says:

    Lisa,

    Great article on the Palmer House. I once went to a wedding that was hosted in the Empire Room. The reception was beautiful and the room was amazing. So happy to hear that they’ve renovated the property. It is truly a landmark.

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