Thursday, May 17, 2012

Karyn's on Green, Chicago

UPDATE: This restaurant has permanently closed.
Karyn's on Green first opened a couple years ago as yet another restaurant in the Karyn's empire and I was one of the first to dine there. Upscale, vegan restaurants are few and far between so it is particularly exciting when a new one opens. This time, I was in Chicago for a few days and wanted to see how the restaurant had evolved since its inception. I couldn't convince anyone else to join me so I headed over alone.

From Karyn's on Green's website
The restaurant is off the main strip in a neighborhoody type area. The decor is very modern and crisp with white walls and a white backlit bar along with contrasting dark wood accents. The decorations and fixtures imparted a natural feel with large plants, bamboo sticks, and a large waterfall along the wall. Above the door, a Buddha watches over.

I started with the Skinny Vegan drink because I really wanted something light. It was made with VeeV Acai Spirit, fresh raspberries, fresh lemons, agave nectar, and club soda. It was listed as only 100 calories, which is great because I was getting ready to order a lot of food. :)

I asked my waiter whether I should try the roasted foraged mushrooms or just a salad. He recommended the salad because he said their salads are very unique. Sure, why not?! So, I ordered the Spinach-Endive salad that had red onion with shaved watermelon radish. The radish was beautiful - I'd never seen one of these before!  The Bosc pear vinaigrette complemented the greens nicely. I really enjoyed this salad.

The bread they put on the table was especially good. There was some mix-up with my order so I ended up waiting about 40 minutes for my entree during which time, I enjoyed the bread. They apologized several times and offered me a free glass of wine for my inconvenience. That sounded good to me. I ordered a Malbec '10 Pulenta La Flor Mednoza from Argentina, which was nice and light.

Finally, my entree arrived -- I ordered the "crab cake." It is made in-house with texturized wheat and soy protein. It really tasted like crab to me. It was served with a quinoa succotash with black-eyed peas over a vanilla-sweet corn puree. The succotash was delicious and paired so well with the sweet-corn puree and cilantro oil.  The dish was garnished with chili threads, which added some heat. It was incredibly balanced with just the right flavors and texture.

For dessert, I decided to try the German apple cake. This cake was pure perfection. It was a spongy upside down apple cake with spiced apples, vegan vanilla bean ice cream, caramel, and a dried apple chip. The cake was incredibly moist, the ice cream was creamy and the caramel was dreamy. I only wish I could take the whole cake home.

Afterwards, my waiter, Derek, told me that they are making most items in house now and also trying to buy locally sourced products, which is great. I mentioned that the last time I was here a few years ago, we tried the "chicken" legs and they were made by a Chinese company. He mentioned they are still using that brand. So, not everything is made in-house, but most things are.  The manager also stopped by and told me that the chef, Jonathon Garecki, has been there since last spring. He started as a line cook, advanced to sous chef, and is now the head chef -- all within a few months. And...he is only 22 years old! Wow! I gave my complements to the chef.

Karyn's on Green is a great place to go for a special dinner. The small plates are around $10 each and the large entrees are around $15 each so it certainly is a great value for the money. The service was great despite the long wait for my entree, which they made up for by offering me a glass of wine. I think this is one of the best vegan restaurants in the country. And I love their new tagline -- Making Vegan Sexy. And that they are. Highly recommended.

Karyn's On Green
130 South Green Street
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-6155

Karyn's on Green on Urbanspoon

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