November 22, 2013

The Great Tree Lunch in The Walnut Room and Mrs. Hering's Famous Recipe

"Among the "firsts" by Marshall Field's was the concept of the department store tea room. In the 19th century, ladies shopping downtown returned home for lunch; having lunch at a downtown restaurant unescorted by a gentleman was not considered ladylike. But after a Marshall Field's clerk shared her lunch with a tired shopper (a chicken pot pie), Field's hit on the idea of opening a department store tea room, so that women shoppers would not feel the need to make two trips to complete their shopping. To this day, the Walnut Room serves the traditional Mrs. Herring's chicken pot pie." Source:Wikipedia

During the holiday season, the wait time to be seated in the Walnut Room for breakfast or lunch can often times be over three hours. No reservations accepted at this restaurant.  That is one reason that we decided to have lunch the week before the official start of the Christmas season. At eleven o'clock we got in a very short queue and we were seated within minutes.

While my friends waited in line, I scooted up to the seventh floor where they have created a viewing area for the Walnut Room below.

You can see that decorative wrought iron bars surround the area for an unobstructive view of the restaurant below, and it's great for taking pictures.

A 17 foot marble fountain is usually the focal point of this restaurant, but during the holiday season a 45 foot tree sits on top of the fountain. This tree has been dubbed "the Great Tree."

Everyone wants to be seated next to or near the Great Tree and enjoy its beauty while dining. We were seated near the tree.

While I was on the seventh floor, where they sell home furnishings, I found a photo opportunity using this very large mirror. That is me with the Great Tree in the reflection of the mirror.

The Great Tree is adorned with42 LED star ornaments ranging for 18 inches to 30 inches across.

Traditional holiday ornaments and twinkle lights are nestled and hung all around the tree.

Here is my sweet friend Pat who was celebrating her birthday.

A toast to the birthday girl. See the soda in the lower left corner? That's mine, the other two are enjoying a little Christmas cheer, and it was only 11:30 AM! :)) I love my friends!

We didn't really have to look at a menu because all of us enjoy Mrs. Hering's 1890 original chicken pot pie and have ordered it every year.

The pot pie is presented on an oval platter along with a mixed green salad.

A golden, flaky crust tops the pot pie and inside is a rich creamy filling. No bottom crust.

We all enjoyed it down to the last bite.

The Christmas fairy was circling the room and granting Christmas wishes.

She stopped by our table, to sprinkle a little fairy dust over our heads as we closed our eyes and made our wishes.

What would a birthday celebration be like if there was no dessert with a candle to blow out?

We celebrated with a wonderful slice of Frango Mint Chocolate ice cream pie, yummy!

We all loved it.

Total cost of the lunch celebration. Downtown Chicago has one of the highest tax rates at 9.75. A costly lunch but very enjoyable.

Standing in front of the Great Tree. Pat (left) was my children's art teacher, and I later worked with her at two different schools. Pat and I met Janet (center) when she transferred to our school, and I'm at the end (right). Even after retirement we have remained friends, and I feel very blessed to have them in my life.

It was a wonderful day of celebration, Happy Birthday, Pat.

Mrs. Hering's Orginal Chicken Pot Pie recipe from Marshall Field's cookbook by Stephen Siegelman can be found here, and for a more modern version of this famous pot pie click here.



  1. What a fun post! It looks like a delightful time had by all! And I don't even remember the last time I ate a chicken pie, but that looks delicious!

  2. I wondered where you had been! Out having a blast, good for you. I am envious, those are the things my Mom and I use to do. We would take the train to Chicago, stay at the Palmer house and go shopping. The kitchen is looking fabulous!

  3. It is wonderful to be able to spend time together in such beautiful surroundings!! A lovely tradition! Pot pie is a favorite of mine!

  4. Yum, it all sounds delicious. If the food is good, I don't mind paying more money. I bet you used to dress up to have lunch there back in the day...... Now it is casual casual and our kids running around in PJ bottoms. Loved your post.