Somerset is the street-level dining venue at the new Viceroy Hotel in Chicago's Golden Triangle district, a well known center of upscale retail, hotels and food. Somerset works both as the hotel's main restaurant, serving guests around the clock, and it also works as a standout character among neighboring stalwarts of the old Chicago scene, Gibsons and Carmines, among others.
The design story for Somerset draws on site history both recent and further in the past. In recent decades this hotel was the site of the somewhat unseemly establishment, The Cedar Hotel, and its well loved seasonal outdoor cafe, which regularly held a casual after work crowd numbering in the hundreds. Riding the gourmet renaissance in the neighborhood, the new hotel and restaurant maintain this lively engagement with the street as a central part of the new design. As such, the outdoor terrace and main dining room still work as one, with the old romanesque facade adapted to open fully to the interior, which itself is oriented to the street, stepping up to a mezzanine area around the bar colosseum style.
More distant history from the neighborhood, outlandish stories about quarrels with a stubborn local who gave the district its old name Streeterville, inspired the conceptual backstory of an officious old sailing club, recast here with some tastefully ironic design statements in art, lighting and materials.