Lyric Opera to serve up pasta with Puccini

Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 10:11 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

The Pedersen Room. Photo by Mark Ballogg.
The Pedersen Room. Photo: Mark Ballogg.

Starting this fall, when you attend a Lyric Opera performance of Tosca or Faust, you will finally be able to enjoy a pre-performance repast without having to dash across Wacker Drive to make the curtain.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago will open two new restaurants in the Civic Opera House on September 30th, both exclusively serving those holding tickets for Lyric Opera performances.

“The Civic Opera House is one of the most beautiful theaters on the continent,” said William Mason, Lyric’s general director, in a released statement.  “While we have long offered in-house dining in the Graham Room for our donors of $7,500 and above, we haven’t had the opportunity to do likewise for the majority of our subscribers and general ticket-buying public—until now.”

 Both restaurants are designed by the Aumiller Youngquist firm, and named for Lyric benefactors who contributed to the initiative.

 The Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room is located on street level facing Wacker Drive in the space formerly occupied by a bank. Seating just 72 patrons, the Pedersen Room is designed in an Art Deco motif, complementing the Lyric’s architectural style. There will be two seatings before each evening performance, at 5 and 6 p.m.; for matinees, one seating at 12:30 p.m. and a second following the performance.

 The $28 prix-fixe menu by Jewell Events Catering offers three courses with four  choices each. A sample menu includes entrees of hoisin-glazed salmon with Asian rice noodles, petite breast of chicken filled with fontina, spinach and pine nuts, served with polenta crescents and a champagne sauce; or sliced bistro steak with chive mashed potatoes with cabernet sauce. Reservations are mandatory for all seatings and open only to Lyric Opera subscribers through Sept. 28. 

The Florian Bistro. Photo by Mark Ballogg.
The Florian Opera Bistro. Photo: Mark Ballogg.

The Florian Opera Bistro is located on the third-floor Dress Circle. Seating 136, the Bistro offers a more informal space and lighter fare with no reservations required. It will also be more wallet-friendly, with entrees starting at $7 and meals averaging $14. The doors will open at 5 p.m. for evening performances and at 12:30 p.m. for matinees and following matinee performances.

 The bars of both restaurants open as a “preview” to patrons Sept. 26 for the season-opening performance of Puccini’s Tosca.

 The Lyric Opera purchased 6,800 square feet of additional space in the building last year from Tishman Speyer Properties, co-owner of the Civic Opera Building  for the planned venues.  “We felt it was important to create new dining facilities for the enjoyment and comfort of our patrons now and in the future,” Mason added. “Thanks to the generosity of two members of our board of directors, Peer Pedersen and Sonia Florian, we were able to move ahead with this exciting project and open both new restaurants at the start of Lyric’s 55th season—and the 80th anniversary of the Civic Opera House.”

Posted in News

Leave a Comment