Whatever you do, don’t take the elevator. When you book dinner reservations at RH’s rooftop restaurant atop its new store in Oak Brook, you really want to take the stairs. They’re impossible to miss. Just look for the floating black-meets-brass double staircase—it’s grand enough to put Scarlett O’Hara’s little old stairwell to shame—and start climbing. It’s two floors up, but it’s worth the extra effort, even in 3-inch heels.
We’ve certainly visited enough RH showrooms across the country to know they are the single most-pleasurable furniture showrooms to browse on the planet. Exploring the 60,000-square-foot RH showroom in Oak Brook is no exception. The vaulting cathedral-like ceilings. The moody chiaroscuro lighting. The artfully appointed furniture displays, so immaculately immersive you’d swear they are discrete movie sets on an old Hollywood film lot. The Oak Brook location is very RH. It looks, in short, like a modern-day Versailles.
And yet, there’s something even more magical about ascending that stairwell at night. Maybe it’s the fact that the space’s designers have taken a page straight out of the Hogwarts School of Design. They’ve sheathed the entire ascending wall with as many Louis Philippe Gilt mirrors as could fit, not only refracting light but the streams of shoppers moving up and down the building.
It almost feels, when night falls, that you’re ascending through a stagger-stepped tunnel of light toward the sky. It’s all very dramatic, very Gilded Age thanks to RH’s love for giant urns and pottery. And then at long last you’re cast back toward an inky black sky, like an illuminated movie theater that goes dark for the main attraction.
The RH Rooftop Restaurant and Wine Bar, as it’s formally called, is a glass-enclosed dining room in the sky. Twin Serenella chandeliers, looking like two golden upside down wedding cakes, float over the stairwell. A lion’s head fountain spews calming streams of water. And a gorgeous backlit bar boasting a centralized coffee station and a collection of 40 different wines, each offered by the glass.
There’s always been something irresistible to us about shadowy restaurants where it’s difficult to determine where the outside ends and the dining room begins. As such, the restaurant is a culinary extension of the RH’s desire to build showrooms that feel more like palatial dream homes rather than retail outlets.
You can thank the designer’s clever use of a charcoal gray Venetian plaster exterior for that optical allusion. The room itself is stenciled with green hedgerows and anchored by a central water fountain. It’s very Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in here, as if RH was able to elevate a moonlight park from Savannah or Charleston and bracketed it with glass and steel.
Prior to our visit, I’m not sure I completely understood what RH’s chairman and CEO Gary Friedman meant, a while back, when he said RH Oak Brook would be “a reflection of a hierarchy that leads to harmony.” But I think I have a better idea what he means now. RH is fond of saying that its stores blur the lines between the indoors and outdoors and create a sense of balance and proportionality as often as possible. There certainly is harmony up here on the roof. You can feel a designer’s touch—a very human hand—in the creation of this space.
It’s an atrium, whether consciously or unconsciously, that says, “You can do this too. If we built this skylight garden party in the sky—complete with olive trees and chandeliers that glow like candlelit amber—think of what you could do back at your house?”
Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that the space not only marks the first rooftop restaurant in the Chicago area but also its first Interior Design Firm & Atelier, an interactive workspace that offers shoppers targeted advice.
And thus you see the genius of pouring so much time and elegance into this restaurant. RH has built that two-way staircase for a reason. Guests are free to celebrate a new purchase by heading upstairs to enjoy a splendid meal in the sky. Or dine upstairs and be so swept away by the experience they’ll want to rush back downstairs and finally pull the trigger on that chandelier or sideboard they’ve been dreaming about.
And make no mistake about it: The dining experience is splendid. You’ll definitely pay RH prices to enjoy it, but the menu is as well curated as it is compact. Not a single dish we tried disappointed, so should you decide that sixty-something dollar rib eye or twenty-plus dollar hamburger are within you’re price range, you won’t be disappointed.
We were delighted, for instance, to discover just how much we enjoyed RH’s signature burger. It’s without question one of the tastiest in the western suburbs.
It’s a double burger. American cheese. Pickles. Dijonnaise. Served on a fluffy, oversized brioche bun. Diners have the option to add avocado or thick-cut pork belly bacon for an extra fee. It may not sound that revolutionary on paper, but it’s a juicy handful. By the time you squeeze that pillowy bun and lift it to your lips, the cheese—slightly sharp with an incredible gooey melting point—will have already seeped into each craggy crevices of the burger.
That’s one of the keys to a great burger. Can the kitchen get its timing just right, so that the sizzled, crispy exterior breaks and releasing its inner juices just as the cheese is hitting a semi-liquid state? The result here is as gooey as a Juicy Lucy with a richness that’s counterbalanced by the acidity of the pickles and the creamy undercurrent of the Dijonnaise.
In many ways, the small size of the menu—there are only three non-sandwich entrees—is the inverse of the sprawling War and Peace-sized catalogue of products RH is known for. The appetizer list—dubbed “for the table” on the menu—has been written to ensure the kitchen can turn around and send out a starter almost immediately after you’ve ordered it.
Most of the apps are cold, and lean toward simple charcuterie staples. Think Italian picnic or what you’d buy on a quick run to your local French boulangerie. There are prosciutto boards, served with our without a creamy hunk of a triple-cream Delice de Bourgogne cheese. And a burrata plate drizzled with aged balsamic and roasted peppers. There are no real surprises here, but the quality of the cheese and balsamic, plus the decision to pack sweet slices of basil between the charred peppers won us over.
What can you say about something like RH’s arugula salads, other than they arrive piled so high with frilly greens that they look like they’re going to topple over and fall right off the plate at any moment. Lightly dressed with a vinaigrette, pumpkin seeds, and curls of Parmesan and fennel, it’s a four-season salad dappled with tiny globes sweet grapes.
Both the 16 ounce rib-eyes and the perfectly prepared broiled honey-brown butter salmon are first rate, although they both come a la carte, requiring diners to pony up more money to pair them with steakhouse sides. For a more complete meal, the kitchen’s roasted chicken may be your best bet. It’s an incredibly juice half bird cooked with garlic confit and set over Joel Robuchon-style potato puree coated in a rich reduced gravy.
It’s an incredibly rich yet elegant menu, one that pairs exceptionally well with a dining room worthy of the RH name.
RH Rooftop Restaurant and Wine Bar is located at Oakbrook Center, 1300 22nd Street, Oak Brook. For more information, call 630-572-0074 or visit rh.com/oakbrook/restaurant.