Located in the southeast corner of the 7th floor, the Walnut Room is perhaps one of the most anticipated attractions that a visitor will encounter during a trip to the Windy City. As the oldest restaurant in Chicago, the Walnut Room boasts of authentic Austrian chandeliers accompanied by the original Russian Circassian walnut paneling.The Walnut Room is a famous dining hall that lives up to its legend. Tourists and locals alike enjoy the old-school atmosphere and traditional fare. Sharing the menu with such favorites as pot pie and meatloaf are duck confit and rosemary grilled petite filet mignon. Around the holidays, lunch served "under" the traditional Great Tree is so popular that the wait can exceed an hour. Dark wood paneling, white tablecloths and experienced waitstaff take you back to the good old days.
Eating under the holiday tree at the Walnut Room on the 7th floor of Marshall Field's on State Street WAS a Christmas holiday tradition for many native Chicagoans but I somehow managed to avoid doing it until November 2005, the final year the store would be known as Marshall Field's. Lines for the Walnut Room in the busy shopping weeks before Christmas would sometimes be 2-3 hours long and no reservations and I just couldn't fathom waiting that long for any meal.
In 2006 when I was showing a few VTers around in early December, I brought them up to the 7th floor to see the tree and there was no line at all to eat at the Walnut Room, it seems Macy's underestimated the strong connection Chicago had with their hometown department store and the threatened boycott of Macy's after they changed the name in September 2006 turned out to be more than idle threats.
Favorite Dish: On my 2005 visit I tried a spicy bbq chicken sandwich, it was fine but certainly not worth standing in line for 3 hours.
Mom in law had her usual pick of chicken pot pie which is one of their specialty items and while the delicate puff pastry crust looked very good, once the peas started popping out I was no longer coveting her lunch. She tells me that it's excellent though and I will just have to believe her.
I imagine Macy's kept the menu fairly similar to the one Marshall Field's had but I suspect that I will never know for sure...
On the 7th floor of Marshall Fields on North State Street, you will find a beautiful restaurant with a history. Established in 1907, it still impresses those who eat here after all that time. It has been recently restored to its original grandeur, thank goodness! For as long as I can remember, there has been The Walnut Room. Every time I see it, it stirs memories of Christmas. It evoks recollections of a more innocent time when we would stand in line with other families to eat near the gigantic Christmas Tree that towers over the patrons. It also brings back memories of having to wait in line for at least an hour, because they do not accept reservations at the holiday season! Even if it takes longer, always ask to be seated near the tree.
This is one of the only places I know of that still has high tea where small cakes and cookies are served with tea. The surroundings are elegant, warm, and inviting. As you can see in the photo, it reminds one of a time gone by when white table cloths and linen napkins were expected.
It's a great place in the Loop to eat lunch with real food, real plates, and real utensils!
The food is excellent and reasonably priced but certainly more expensive than a fast-food restaurant.
Favorite Dish: They are famous for their chicken pot pie which comes steaming hot and filled with large chunks of chicken, especially white meat. They also serve such modern choices as the Vegetarian Burger (not my cup of tea).
I always save room for dessert. The most popular dessert is their apple pie with ice cream.
If you are in Chicago during Christmas, take the time to stand in line so that you, too, can experience a special lunch next to the gigantic Christmas tree. It's worth it just to see the faces of the children light up when they see it.
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