The Walnut Room: fine dining near the Loop campus –SAVE FOR 10-1-12

The Walnut Room provides a quiet, calming and affordable area to have a sit-down meal. Conveniently located on the seventh floor of Macy’s on State Street, it’s a close walk from DePaul’s Loop campus.

Stepping off the elevator, shutting off the rest of the city becomes easy due to the sudden change in lighting. Softly playing in the background, instrumental music leads you to the hostess who warmly greets you and has you seated. Having small square tables facilitates conversation with a group due to the proximity of the chairs without invading personal space. Tables for two are also provided – these are the closest tables to the windows. This seating area adds more natural light to give the room a warmer touch, perfect for a more personal conversation with a boyfriend or girlfriend or just a friend.

Also, choosing a table near a window appeals more to those looking for a more modern restaurant since the decorations do feel dated; having natural light coming from the window gives the decorations a more refreshing look.

Although the room feels crowded with multiple tables within five feet from each other, the high ceiling of the room creates a spacious feel. Having larger tables would make for a less crowded feel since once the food arrives, having three people at a table feels congested. Of course, once you start eating you forget about the lack of space results more easily than one would imagine.

Immediately after being seated, the menu arrives along with a glass of water. As typical as it sounds, it’s just a snippet of how quick and attentive the service performs. After flipping through the menu, it seems like there aren’t that many options. However, choosing becomes more difficult once you narrow down your options to two or three. If you find yourself indecisive, a combination of smaller options brings the same satisfying feel as a main entr’ÛΩe.

Looking at the menu online beforehand makes choosing easier. If you still can’t decide, asking the waiter for the specials of the day helps in choosing what type of food you have a taste for.

The menu offers a great variety of options. The more traditional options include the original chicken pot pie, oven baked meatloaf, asiago crusted chicken breast, pork tenderloin medallions and carmelized salmon. There are five different types of salads and three types of sandwiches. The starting options and the dessert options also have a good variety – the starters include soup, salad, shrimp, crab cakes, and a cheese plate; and the desserts include cake, ice cream pie and cheesecake. All of the options in the menu have a reasonable price; the starters have a price of between $5 to $10, the salads from $10 to $12, the sandwiches from $10 to $11, the traditional options from $11 to $15 and the desserts from $3 to $8.

Starting off with a cup of soup would be the ideal as it allows you to settle in your seat and feel comfortable with the quietness that surrounds you. Whether you enjoy salads or usually stay away from the greens, the salad portions are large and filling. The strawberry chicken salad was nicely presented, and includes enough of every of ingredient. Splitting the salad proved a better option since half was enough as a main option.

Although most of their options fit in perfectly with the classy look of the restaurant, the sandwich category didn’t fit in as well with the rest of the menu. Their options of sandwiches don’t fit the classy look of the room – once the chicken caprese and the cheeseburger arrived, they both had the tomatoes and lettuce falling to one side.

Presentation goes a long way in keeping up with a good reputation and these sandwich options just didn’t make the cut. But once again, the size of the meal proves itself to satisfy a large appetite. On the upside, the three sandwich options are served with seasoned fries. The fries have just the right amount of pepper, but could lay off the salt.

The option also provides ketchup on the side, but the fries don’t require any extra ingredient to make them enjoyable. The chicken breast in the chicken caprese was sweet and the tomatoes were juicy, creating a mixture of delicate flavors.

Due to the large portion sizes, splitting a main entr’ÛΩe with a friend would allow for more room for dessert and another starter of your choosing. With the various flavors being presented, water makes for a good choice in drink to allow one to focus on the flavors of another option, or to not feel overwhelmed with the one meal of your choosing.

After enjoying a meal in The Walnut Room, visiting the historical images and structures provides a nice walk. Of course, you also have the many floors of Macy’s to shop around. Known for large decorations and popularity around the holidays, check out The Walnut Room before everyone decides to go there. If you end up liking it and want to invite others to join you in your next visit, or if you would like to enjoy the room during the holiday season, make sure you make a reservation beforehand to avoid a long wait; reservations can be done online or by phone.

Overall, The Walnut Room deserves four stars. They serve a great amount of food and the service quickly attends to every possible need. However, the decorations need a makeover – a more modern style in the decorations would make the room friendlier. The lighting suits the classy look of the room, but providing warmer lighting would complement the color of the room more.