I relish shopping as much as the next gal, but it is something I need to be in the right frame of mind to fully appreciate. There is nothing about waking up at 3am that would make shopping an enjoyable experience for me or the retailers having to assist me, so needless to say, I don’t go “Black Friday” shopping. Growing up, I remember getting dressed up to go shopping. Maybe it was a matter of looking presentable so stores would treat you like you deserved their garments, or maybe it was an exercise in having pride in how you looked when leaving the house, but in my household, we didn’t go to shopping centers looking sloppy. It was an experience with lots of walking, trying on clothing for fit, and if you acted accordingly, there would be a nice meal at the end of the affair.
This past weekend, while getting holiday shopping ideas at Macys on State Street, better known to real Chicagoans as Marshall Fields, I took some time to have lunch at the store’s Walnut Room. Named after the Circassian Walnut paneling that surrounds the entire room, you feel the stateliness of the space. I actually went in the late afternoon on a Sunday. The weather had been stormy earlier in the day and it was just clearing up. This ended up being a major win for me with no line and no waiting for a restaurant, which can sometimes take up to three hours.
After being seated I started with the walnut room salad, loaded with mixed greens, mandarin slices, almonds, and a delicious sesame dressing. What a great opening to my dining experience! My server was there instantly with my drink order and the fresh-baked bread paired well with my salad. There was also a manager stopping by and checking in with each table. Clearly, they take customer service very seriously in this restaurant. I had this great build up only to be disappointed in the herb crusted tilapia I ordered for my main course. It was served with whipped potatoes, a subtle red pepper sauce, and green beans. The lack of seasoning ruined what should have been a great meal. I expressed my disappointment to my server, who was more than willing to replace it with something else. They were able to rebound the meal with the Frango mint chocolate ice cream pie. Let’s see, Frango mints and ice cream put into a pie, this dessert might have just saved Christmas shopping, it was so good.
Eating in the Walnut Room feels like you are dining in history. The restaurant was established in the early 1900’s for people to fully enjoy their shopping experience, plus they probably did not want you leaving the store because you were hungry, and it is a very relaxing atmosphere. You come to the Walnut Room for not only good food, but a dining experience and that is what they provide in spades. So stop by the seventh floor, eat some food, and get that second wind to do some more shopping.