The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant reopened their doors for dinner service on Friday, February 3 at 5 p.m. Following a devastating fire that took place on December 10, 2014, proprietor Matthew O'Malley and his family have dedicated the last two years to rebuilding the South Loop steakhouse. Within days of the fire, O'Malley stated, "The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant has been a cornerstone of the South Loop community, and together we have developed a gathering place that gives us great pride. We owe it to our history, our employees and our neighbors to preserve this treasured Chicago Landmark. Without hesitation or reservation, we will rebuild."
The building, erected in 1905, is located at 1401 S. Michigan Avenue. Renowned architect Charles F. Hermann designed the firehouse for Engine Company 104 to serve the Prairie Avenue community. The yellow brick and limestone design was created to fit well with neighboring homes. In 1998, The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant project began and opened its doors for dining in January of 2000. On October 1, 2003, former Engine Company 104 was designated a Chicago Landmark. For nearly 15 years, The Chicago Firehouse restaurant served the neighborhood, the Chicagoland community, business travelers and tourists.
Renovations made to the restaurant reflect thoughtful attention to turn of the century design elements while maintaining the building’s beauty and heritage. Upon entering through the firehouse’s original doorway on 14th Street, guests will find a large bar area with backlit wine wall, hand-painted mural, 12 patterned tin ceiling, original Tiffany glazed brick, custom millwork and tufted banquettes. The now 15,000 square foot steakhouse added a spacious solarium with floor to ceiling windows that flood the restaurant with natural light and a state-of-the-art kitchen visible from various vantage points. The first floor’s bar area, main dining room and solarium offer seating for 215 guests. The second floor, dedicated to private event space, can accommodate parties of up to 250 guests. This level’s renovation includes sun-filled spaces with walnut paneled walls, reclaimed wood floors and beautifully handcrafted doors. Two large parlor rooms (Palmer Parlor and Kimball Parlor) were aptly named for the first families of Chicago who resided on Prairie Avenue. The Mayor's Room is handsomely designed with a fireplace and 11-foot doors, perfect for meetings or small dinner parties. A stunning private veranda complete with outdoor fireplace and bar overlooks the restaurant's courtyard.
Executive Chef John Caputo is at the helm of The Chicago Firehouse's kitchen. Caputo's menu features classic and inventive Chicago steakhouse fare, including appetizers (house-made relish plate; lamb lollipops with mint jelly; crab cakes with chipotle aioli; escargot and wild mushroom ravioli with parsley pesto), soup and salad (lobster bisque with puff pastry - a Firehouse favorite; oxtail onion soup with caraway toast and gruyere; baby iceberg wedge; MightyVine tomato and buratta), shellfish towers, house specialties (Berkshire pork porterhouse; grilled swordfish steak; beef short rib and pork belly burger; Amish brick chicken), prime steaks (bone-in ribeye; Slagel Family Farms bone-in New York strip; ribeye cap steak for two carved table side; bone-in filet), sides (sweet potato pancake with truffle butter and bacon-onion jam; Robuchon’s butter potatoes; sauteed wild mushrooms; roasted cellar vegetables; hasselback potato with crackling goat cheddar; grilled jumbo asparagus) and sweets (CFH key lime pie; creamy rum cheesecake; jumbo strawberries with caramel poached oranges and zabaglione foam; Black Dog gelato sundae). Caputo will be supported by a team composed of 80% of the original service staff.
A worldly wine list offers over 20 selections by the glass and 80 by the bottle. The cocktail menu is divided by classic (Old Fashioned; Negroni; Cuba Libre; Side Car; Rob Roy) and specialty libations (Cucumber Bliss with Ketel One Citron, St. Germain, freshly squeezed lemon juice; The Avenue with Maker’s Mark, Calvados, Pama liqueur, passion fruit and orange flower water; The Mother-In-Law with Peychaud’s bitters, angostura bitters, orange bitters, Evan Williams bourbon, maraschino liqueur, orange curacao, simple syrup). The Firehouse Punch Bowl, a large format cocktail available in two sizes, features Appleton Jamaican rum, champagne, triple sec, cranberry juice, freshly squeezed lemon juice and passion fruit juice. The restaurant also offers craft beer and other beverage selections, in addition to a bar snacks menu (assorted spiced nuts; mixed olives; house-made potato chips with french onion dip).
To the supporters of the restaurant, Matthew O’Malley and family relay, “We have eagerly awaited the reopening of our doors. The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant is a journey of love, tenacity and perseverance. We extend our deep gratitude for your unwavering patience and encouragement. It has been our sincere honor to serve you for 15 years. Our commitment to the neighborhood and community has only deepened over time, and it is with great pride and humility that we warmly welcome you back. We look forward to hosting you beginning Friday, February 3, 2017.”
The opening menus may be viewed here. For table reservations, please call 312-786-1401. The hours of operation are: Sunday-Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (bar open until midnight); Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (bar open until 1 a.m.).
The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant
1401 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605