The Café

Overall Rating: 5.650

Address: 160 E Pearson St.
Cross Street(s): Michigan Ave.; 12th Floor, Ritz-Carlton
City, State ZIP: Chicago, IL 60611
Neighborhood: Magnificent Mile
Phone: 312.573.5160
Hours: M-Su 6am-7pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar
Cafe Rating: 5.50
Barista: 4
Savvy: 5
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 6
Consistency: N/A
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco
Coffee Rating: 5.80
Aroma: 6
Body: 5
Brightness: 6
Crema: 6
Flavor: 6
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Warming
Coffee Beans: La Colombe Torrefaction
Cup Manufacturer: Unknown
Price: $3.50
Last Update: 12/22/2017
First Reviewed: 12/22/2017
Notes: None

By 2017, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago complted a $100M remodel of its hotel lobby. While it definitely looks like an upgrade, you might have expected a guilded entrance with choirs of angels singing. Past the hotel registration counters, next to the Torali Italian steakhouse and towards the rear, you'll stand under glass-encased views of the John Hancock Building. Beneath the glass ceiling is an array of lightly colored short hotel chairs with white lampshades everywhere. There are hanging glass ceiling ornaments and other organically shaped chairs and sofas throughout the greater lobby area. The service bar area comes with "The Café exclusively serving La Colombe" signage plus some delicate pastries and sweets under glass. In the winter they hosted a hot chocolate bar with optional fixings. That all sounds good, but how's the actual espresso? They use a two-group La Marzocco FB80 behind their white marble service counter. The staff has a disaffected attitude of, "Why am I here? I could be home painting my nails" - which is surely what you want in a good barista. It comes served in a nameless, saucerless cup with a scant layer of even, medium brown crema: the liquid is fully separated from the crema layer with no integration. And even if you order milk-frothing with your drink, the results are also scant. It has a rather pedestrian tepid flavor of mild spice and some sweetness. Overall, a ton of money with great pomp and circumstance doing a real disservice to the La Colombe brand.