‘Factory chic’ is perhaps not an immediately enticing bar concept, conjuring up as it does images of the almost-played-out minimalist warehouse vibe, but Chicago’s latest offering The Dawson has been lovingly modelled on the nearby C.19th Dawson Bros. fireplace factory with a far warmer sensibility. In fact, the industrial theme begins and ends in the metallic atrium stairwell, from which it leads into two expansive floors of reclaimed wood beam ceilings, charcoal suede booths, blazing fireplaces, and accents of Art Deco tiling and wallpaper throughout.
Billed as a ‘drinking-focused restaurant’, the gloriously creative cocktail menu is at the fore of the factory line with tastebud-tinglers like Liquid Swords mixed with Yuzu Sake, Kina L’Avion, chai green tea syrup, lemon, prosecco and orange bitters, and house-made sodas made from grapefruit, pineapple gomme, and bergamot. There’s also a tight wine list sold by the glass only and all beer is on tap, including some rarer finds like a pilsner from Danish craft brewery Evil Twin. Plates from chef Rene De Leon (Alinea, Next) play a supposed supporting role, but risk stealing the show with decadence such as the prime ribeye deep-fried in a buttermilk batter, with horseradish mash and honey butter sauce, and smoked beef tongue sliders with a trio of jalapeño relishes. ‘Factory-made’ isn’t sounding so bad after all!