First meal served: 1947
Down Memory Lane: When the Clarmont first started searing its premium proteins, it was the rare example of fine, white-tablecloth-style dining on the South Side. The restaurant's popularity and success became part of a sort of "Clarmont complex" which included a nearby hotel (where Jodie Foster would later shoot scenes for her movie "Little Man Tate") and the now-closed, notoriously rowdy Round Bar.
One Clarmont owner, Barry Zacks, became famous for originating the Max & Erma's chain. Today's chief, Thom Coffman, continues to maintain the high standards that have made this place an upscale staple for 63 good-eating years.
Between the aisles: Downtown movers and shakers still order power breakfasts from a veteran waitstaff inside the place's currently sedate brown-and-beige-toned rooms. During weekend evenings, don't be surprised to walk in and hear - as I did recently - a talented pianoman playing the perfect tune, "As Time Goes By."
On the plate: Lately my favorite is the outstanding rack of lamb with a luscious, meaty and winey sauce. But there's also high-grade pork and steak (often with rich accents like bacon, blue cheeses and terrific sauces); seriously humongous specimens of shrimp cocktail; excellent pan-fried perch and walleye; good liver and onions; and sides like sensational sauteed spinach and actually interesting green beans. Oh yeah, and lots of potatoes - try the black pepper fries.