Although it's only a five hour drive from where I live to Chicago, I've only visited the Windy City three times. I've enjoyed each visit [except for driving on their freeways during peak, rush-hour traffic!]. Today's post is about my June, 2011 visit.
The trip was spurred by two things. First, Angela McRae's blog posts at Tea With Friends, about department store tea rooms, memorabilia, and recipes. Her book, Dainty Dining, came out after my trip, but it merits mentioning in this post. If you don't have it, consider getting a copy. It's a great addition to a tea lover's library. It will evoke wonderful memories about department stores of bygone days.
Second, as a tea writer for Miss. Kitty's Journal, I knew the magazine's 2012 spring issue was going to feature department stores, so I was doing extensive reading and research for my article. I wanted the privilege of dining in a department store restaurant that was formerly known as a tea room, and The Walnut Room is one of the few still in existence. Affectionately known as the grande dame of the 7th floor, it is located in Macy's State Street store, in downtown Chicago. [Formerly Marshall Field .]
The words "tea room" are no longer part of The Walnut Room's title, but they were when it opened on September 30, 1907 with the original name, "The South Tea Room." The wall's Russian Circassian Walnut paneling prompted many ladies to refer to it as the walnut room, so it was officially renamed, "The Walnut Room," in 1937. Pictured below is the beautiful 17 ft. marble fountain in the center of the restaurant.
The restaurant's ambiance is warm and charming with its original walnut paneling, Austrian crystal chandeliers, and white linen covered tables.
Below is the current menu cover. [The entire menu can be seen at Macy's website.]
I ordered the restaurant's signature dish - Mrs. Hering's Chicken Pot Pie. Legend says the pot pie was responsible for Marshall Field establishing the store's very first tea room in 1890. The website audio of the Walnut Room provides the story.
The salad of mixed greens and mandarin oranges with their signature toasted sesame dressing preceded the pot pie. A small selection of China Mist teas in nylon sachets were available for tea patrons. I chose a full-bodied organic berry, black tea.
Mrs. Hering's Famous Chicken Pot Pie
The waiter seated us at a table overlooking State Street so we could view all the activity below.
We topped off our lunch with Frango Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Pie. Yummy!
The perfect ending to a memorable dining experience!