I was calling on a dealer in the south loop area of downtown Chicago recently and it was around the lunch hour. He said, "Hey, let's go get something to eat."
The Walnut Room is legendary in its own right. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of shoppers have eaten there during the Christmas season under the crystal chandeliers, between the dark Walnut walls and next to the huge 40 foot Christmas tree. Some people will wait for a table for up to 3 hours during the Christmas season.
It wasn't quite as busy when we went for lunch. We were seated promptly and had a window table over looking Daley Plaza. Our mid-60ish waitress - I can't remember her name, but I'll call her Clara - was pushing the stuffed shrimp and their signature drink (orange juice, pineapple juice and champagne) even before we'd settled in our seats.
I was in need of some comfort food - they had a spinach stuffed meatloaf that sounded good; and my dealer took the stuffed shrimp that Clara was doing a good job of pushing.
The Walnut Room is very large. It seats 450 people and there's plenty of room between the tables so you don't feel like you're on top of the person seated next to you. From the fresh flowers on the table to the linen table cloth to the waitresses dressed in tuxedos, the Walnut Room just exudes class. I felt a little underdressed in a polo shirt and a pair of khaki's.
My meatloaf was actually pretty good. A little dry for my taste, but the gravy that surrounded the bed of real mashed potatoes was great to dip the meat in. It was just enough to be a spot-hitter for me.
My dealer's shrimp dish was basically the same as what I had - only with shrimp. It was shrimp on a bed of mashed potatoes with a teriyaki gravy surrounding the potatoes. It was outstanding.
Clara kept trying to push us into dessert - their Frango Mint pie sounded great, but I was fine with what I ate. Actually, she was a very good waitress. I'd call her a sassy broad, but only in the most affectionate way.
One a visit to Chicago one time, Cindy and I were at Marshall Field's and we looked into the Walnut Room, but didn't eat there. It's probably a good thing - the bill with tip came to just about $40.00. And I only had a Coke with my lunch and my guest just had water. Good thing I expensed it.
But, still, it was a nice experience. And I'm hoping the new owners of Marshall Field's - Macy's - keep the Walnut Room just as it is when they change the name from Field's to Macy's later this year. I'll have to take Cindy there for lunch some time because I know she'd like it.