Often overlooked when it's not a holiday, The Walnut Room is one of the few elegant yet casual dining rooms left in the city with an affordable (entrees run about $15) and accessible menu. The restaurant is the last great thing that remains a legacy of the former Marshall Field's. White tablecloths, wood paneling, and sunshine through the huge windows above State Street make for an enjoyable lunch or early dinner. It's a go-to for comfort food staples like their famous chicken pot pie that comes with a nice leafy salad dressed with Mandarin oranges and a slightly tangy dressing that compliments the creamy pot pie. Most of the hot entrees like braised short rib or asiago chicken come with whipped potatoes and vegetables. They also have a well known lobster bisque, but most recently I had the French onion soup that was hot and perfectly cheesy.
Though the menu is limited, there's a nice variety including a surprisingly tasty salad called the Peach Nest, which is both savory with chicken salad and almonds, and fruity with peaches, grapes, and strawberries that sit atop shoestring potatoes and served with tea bread and strawberry cream cheese. For vegetarians, there's a tasty grain bowl with roasted vegetables.
Don't skip desert! If you're a Chicagoan, you can't pass up the Frango Mint Ice Cream Pie, which is nostalgia at it's best.
Service is also great. Coffee refills come from a small silver pot left at your table. Our server was tasked with more tables than one might expect, but he managed us all very nicely. I went on a weekday to avoid the crowds, but if you plan to go on a weekend, be sure to make a reservation. Also note that on weekends there are often lively themed brunches with entertainment for holidays and special interests like 90's music. Check their website if you are interested (or not interested) in a lively themed meal.