Deca is deceiving. Located in the beautifully remodeled 12th floor lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the restaurant doesn’t have a dining room per se. Instead, its tables are clustered in an area separated off by planters, much like the setup for a casual coffee shop might be, and the clientele sitting there sometimes appears somewhat subdued. But Deca is no coffee shop, and its menu is anything but stuffy. In fact, the food there is creative, linger-worthy, right-priced and better than what’s served in any number of hotel dining rooms that boast four walls. Deca does away with pretension, and succeeds in creating an approachable yet attentive dining experience in one of the city’s most high-end travel hubs.
I’ve dined at Deca twice in the past six months — and I’ve rolled by it often to see what’s what. Once I stopped and just snacked to tide myself over, and on Friday I had an all-out three-course meal. Both times I was pleased with the food. The menu hasn’t changed much and the quality of what is on it hasn’t diminished.
During my first visit I tried the Mediterranean fish soup, a thick, spicy blend of tomato flavor that warmed me to my toes and was extremely filling and satisfying. Encouraged, I followed that with the pork belly flat bread — a rich blend of flavors and texture that proved to be a little overpowering for my tummy, but I don’t blame the food.
Most recently, I sampled the steak special topped with salad greens and the trout with almonds. Both were well-prepared and full of flavor. Our meal was flanked by delicious scallops and Nicole’s bread (of Nicole’s Crackers) to start and a lemon tart and pumpkin Creme Brulee to end. Of the desserts, the lemon tart was far-and-away the best of the two.
I suggest you top off your evening with a nightcap at the Deca bar on the other side of the lobby. It’s a great place to hang out and chat or to people watch. And I think you’ll find that overall, an evening at Deca worthy of the Ritz.
Deca Restaurant + Bar
160 East Pearson Street at Water Tower Place
12th Floor of the Ritz-Carlton
Chicago, IL 60611-2308