We used to make a Saturday date for lunch at the Cape Cod Room in Chicago's Drake Hotel. My favorite was scrod, which you couldn't get at virtually any other restaurant in the city. It was wonderful...the food, the service, the atmosphere, the tradition, the location. Then scrod became an endangered species and Cape Cod took it off the menu. So we stopped going. Then Cape Cod stopped serving Saturday lunch. I don't think the two incidents were linked. But I was delightfully surprised when I asked my wife where she wanted to go to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary. "Cape Cod Room" she said immediately. Frankly, of all the restaurants in Chicago, I never dreamed she would choose that one. It has been so long since we have dined there, not since 2002. But back we went to celebrate our 38th. What a wonderful occasion. No scrod. But the Dover sole that was prepared tableside was the largest and tastiest fish I have had, as magnificent as it was pricey, the most expensive ($64) on the menu. But well worth it. My wife enjoyed her bay scallops. The carrots, green beans and whipped potato were terrific, too. Of course, the Cape Cod's signature Bookbinder soup kicked off the whole meal in a traditional fashion. And how about the atmosphere. The Cape Cod Room opened in 1933 in one of Chicago's most majestic hotels. Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe cared their initials in the bar. They're still there for all to view. The service staff are "lifers," each with 30 to 40 years of experience. The menu has lots of other treats, including whitefish saltimbocca and salmon and steaks and chops and oysters Rockefeller. For whatever reason, we were told that the Cape Cod has lost some of its popularity since 9/11. We had a 6 o'clock reservation and had the place almost to ourselves, except for a lively bar crowd. But the no-frills, all class Cape Cod Room is proof that old never gets old when it retains its long-time reputation for five-star food and service.
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