Who eats: Ladies who lunch. Mall employees on break reading and snacking at the bar.
Why eat: The location, hidden behind a food court in Water Tower Place, is a less obvious choice than the go-to restaurants on the Mag Mile, which makes it a great spot for confidential business conversation. Plus, you can sneak in a little shopping.
Ambience: Once you've ridden the escalator to the mezzanine level, elbowed through the mall rats and secured your "I've paid for these leftovers" card, you'll find a full-fledged restaurant with a bar, leather booths, mood lighting and bold blocks of color.
Dress code: Casual enough that a woman wearing a tailored suit and a man at the bar in a tie stood out, but classy enough to see pleated capris instead of shorts and blouses instead of tank tops.
Service: Takes reservations, but wait time is less than 15 minutes at peak lunch rush. Service is prompt and efficient but not pandering or disruptive. Water glasses are never empty.
Noise factor: A low murmur of casual conversation is perfect for muffling business discussions.
Overheard: Coupon haggling.
Cellphone reception/Wi-Fi: No 3G network on Verizon phone, spotty service with T-Mobile. No Wi-Fi.
Reliable options: Don't skip the beverages: unfiltered, all-natural ginger ale ($4, shake well), strawberry lemonade from scratch ($4), root beer on draft ($4). Veggie burger ($11), a blend of portobello, spinach, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan, is one of the tastiest in the city and holds together well; also the new salmon nicoise salad with roasted potatoes, deviled egg, green beans, tomatoes, cerignola olives and lemon caper aoli ($14).
Expect to pay: $16-$23 per person with tip.
Contacts: 312-335-4745; mitynicechicago.com