Thursday, October 20, 2011
How can I be writing about a vegan meal, if pictured are creamy soups, crab cakes and gelato you ask?
If you're from Chicago, chances are you've heard of the empire Karyn Calabrese has created in vegan dining. Karyn's Raw Cafe, Karyn's Cooked, Karyn's on Green. Each restaurant offers a unique twist on eating vegan (and makes it sexy). I love that in a city practically built on meat and potatoes, a chic vegan restaurant is not only not out of place, but is thriving.
The husband and I ventured over to Karyn's on Green one recent Friday evening probably out of curiousity more than anything else. To be honest, we weren't sure what to expect. Will I like eating an entire vegan meal? Is the menu honestly 100% vegan? (As you peruse it, you'll notice many menu items cite meat - or rather 'meat').
But even the husband, with his fanatical obsession with lean meat protein, was willing to give it a shot.
First things first, we sat down at a table which had a view of the entire Sears tower (no, I will never call it "Willis"). The beautiful floor to ceiling window is perfectly placed to capture one of Chicago's architectural landmarks, and sets a stunning backdrop to your dinner. The restaurant atmosphere itself is not shabby either, with a lofted open second floor of dining so indicative of West Loop living.
And to sit down and dine is an experience. We started with soups ~ the husband with raw broccoli, and me with butternut squash. I was so envious of the husband's pick, that it prompted me to look up if Karyn's holds any cooking classes (they do!), as I want that recipe! Karyn, if you're out there, you're welcome over any time; I'm just a short walk from your restaurant, and if we can cook up that broccoli soup I will forever be your friend.
Then the magic started happening. Through our entrees we discovered the creativity behind the concept. Crab cakes which weren't crab at all, but a simple recipe using corn meal. Barbeque 'pork' which when slathered with the smoky homemade BBQ sauce could have had me fooled in a taste test. The genious of vegan cooking for those who appreciate the flavors found only in meat, fish, dairy. Or apparently, I stand corrected, as I tasted those flavors at Karyn's.
And how was the gelato so rich and downright creamy? I loved it more than real gelato! I'm telling you now, I don't think this is the last time I write about Karyn. I intend to seek out her other restaurants and am now curious to attend a class. And have her over to share her secrets with me. :)
I'm so curious to know, does the idea of vegan 'meat' appeal to all vegans? And are there restaurants in your cities which follow a similar formula?