Have you ever imagined what it would be like to have lunch several hundred feet above downtown Chicago? If that is one of your must-do experiences, the Signature Room has got you covered. Located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, the views will blow your mind as well as the drink and food menu. Thinking about impressing someone special? This place will score you all the points you need and even cough up some extra ones for you to keep in reserve. It is quite simply a little slice of Heaven that is pretty darn close to Heaven, or at least as close as one can get in the Windy City. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
The Signature Room is well-established. It first opened in 1993 and has amassed an impressive collection of awards and accolades over the past 28 years. The John Hancock Center is on North Michigan Avenue and is a hop, skip, and jump from all the amazing shops and services that line the Magnificent Mile. After checking out the Mig Mile, the Signature Room is perfectly situated for your last stop of the day. In addition to a restaurant, there is also a lounge located here but if you call, you can only make reservations for a meal. Speaking of dining, the Signature Room has the following hours of operation:
Sunday: Brunch 10 AM to 2:30 PM, Dinner 5 PM to 10 PM.
Monday to Thursday: Lunch 11 AM to 2:30 PM, Dinner 5 PM to 10 PM.
Friday: Lunch 11 AM to 2:30 PM, Dinner 5 PM to 11 PM.
Saturday: Brunch 10 AM to 2:30 PM, Dinner 5 PM to 11 PM.
Be warned that there is a dress code for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. It is best described as follows:
Lunch: Casual dress, no beachwear allowed. Men are not permitted to wear sleeveless shirts.
Dinner: Business casual, no shorts, gym shoes, or athletic wear, and jacket with a tie are optional. Jeans that are ripped or torn are not permitted.
Weekend Brunch: Upscale casual with no gym shoes permitted.
The Signature Lounge (on the 96th floor) requires underage patrons (21 years or younger) to be accompanied by a parent from 11 AM to 7 PM. After 7 PM, guests under 21 years of age will not be permitted.
The project to build what would become the second tallest building in the world when it opening, was originally planned by owner Jerry Wolman in 1964. The John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company financed the project which contains businesses and a residential section with over 700 condominiums from Floors 44 to 92. The building stands 1,128-feet tall and is now the fifth-tallest building in Chicago, the thirteenth-tallest in the United States. When measured to the top of the antenna masts on the roof of the building, it stands at 1,500 feet. In 2018, the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company requested their name be removed to permit the building owner to seek another naming rights deal. Although it is still commonly called the John Hancock Center, it is officially identified today by its street address: 875 North Michigan Avenue. The 94th floor features the 360 Chicago Observation Deck and the building has elevators that reach a top speed of 20.5 mph which makes them the fastest in the Western Hemisphere.
The dinner menu at the Signature Room features items under the headings of Raw Bar, Starters, Main Course Selections, and Sides. For example, the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, complete with horseradish cocktail sauce, lemon, and saltine crackers is $22. The main course of a gluten-free Roasted Chicken dinner with maitake mushrooms, kale, creamed pearl onions, bacon, and Madeira jus will cost $32. The starter of a vegetarian Baby Green Salad with radishes and cucumbers, and sherry-cider vinaigrette will cost you $10. A Side of Buttery Whipped Potatoes (vegetarian and gluten-free) will add another $8 to your bill. And we haven’t gotten to the drinks or dessert.
The Signature Room has an extensive Drink Menu that includes Specialty Cocktails, Tequila, Ports, Cognac, Armagnac, Bourbon, Whiskey, and Rye, Premium Scotch, Beer, and Zero-Proof Cocktails. Random selections include the Moscow Mule (Ketel One vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice) $14, a Manhattan (Maker’s Mark bourbon, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters) $15. Plus, there is a lengthy Wine List with Champagne and Sparkling Wine, Rose, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Notable Whites, Notable Reds, and Blends. You are sure to find something to quench your thirst.
The Dessert Menu is rather small compared to all the other menus in use at the Signature Room. That’s probably because the main focus of the restaurant appears to be the interesting meal offerings that appear on the food menu. However, there are a few sweet treats to compliment your meal and add the finishing touches to your dining experience. They include White and Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake with dark chocolate sauce and salted caramel sauce for $10, a Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée (vegetarian, gluten-free) with buckwheat sable for $9, and Coconut Sorbet (vegetarian, gluten-free) with raspberries, coconut macaroons, and tamarind caramel for $9.
The Signature Room and Lounge host special events. Currently, Wednesdays are the big days until September 2021. At the Signature Room Restaurant, Wine Wednesday takes place where select cellar wines are reduced in price by 50% with dinner service. In the Signature Lounge, it is Sip, Savor, Sights Wednesdays from 3 PM to 10 PM. The event features $2 oysters on the half shell, $2 jumbo shrimp, and discounts on selected rose wines and the in-house Signature Room Top View Brew. Some limits are in effect for both events and reservations are strongly encouraged for the restaurant.
Attentive, gracious, knowledgeable. Those are words used to best describe what a good staff should be working in the food services industry. At the Signature Room, the staff has all these qualities and more. As one reviewer on TripAdvisor pointed out, “The service, even considering the arrangement of the tables, was very good. Even with our slightly smaller group this time, the tables were a maze, but all servers negotiated that just fine. The kitchen kept up with the pacing very well and managed to get the number of dishes out pretty quickly – important with a larger business dinner, as you do not want half of the room eating, while the other half is waiting. Two people at our table had special menu choices, and the kitchen handled those perfectly. Another good thing, as too often, I have had folks at my tables, waiting, and waiting, for the special meals, but not at the Signature Room. They handled those in stride.”
The most spectacular thing about the Signature Room is the view and we’re not talking about a stunning cityscape from one side of the building that is partially obscured by other tall buildings in the neighborhood. Instead, what you will find are floor-to-ceiling windows that completely encase the restaurant and lounge offering 360-degree views of the skyline and more. The restaurant has won several awards naming it the Most Romantic Venue in downtown Chicago and seeing is believing. Valentine’s Day is a huge day for the restaurant with couples dining surrounded by the best view in the region. After all, the restaurant is on the 95th floor of the 100-floor building so you have to expect jaw-dropping sights at that height. As one TripAdvisor reviewer stated, “Wonderful atmosphere and a terrific view. We were in the clouds at first, and then they drifted away leaving a gorgeous view.”
The Signature Room offers a lot of different features including full liquor service, brunch, lunch, dinner, private rooms for special functions or parties, live entertainment, wheelchair accessibility, and views that are second to none. Sure, the prices are about as high in the sky as the restaurant/lounge is, but for a specialty menu with a view that can’t be matched, you have to expect to have a lighter wallet when you leave. All major credit cards are accepted and once you visit this site, you will most definitely put it on your list of places to go for those very special occasions that require something more than an expensive meal.
The Bottom Line
How often do you get a chance to have brunch, lunch, or dinner in one of the world’s tallest buildings? Probably not so often so if you get a chance to visit the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the former John Hancock Center, jump at the opportunity. If the meal and service don’t grab your attention, the panoramic views are sure to touch you in ways that will leave quite an impression. Even if all you plan to do is go out for a few drinks with your special someone, the Signature Lounge can accommodate that and you will still be able to enjoy the views along with your company.