Full Disclosure: I paid for this meal with my own money and I was in no way reimbursed for this blog post. The opinions are completely my own.
While I was in Chicago last weekend I was able to escape work (and my cozy hotel room) and go out to a nice dinner with my brother and his girlfriend. I was in an adventurous mood, and pretty hungry from working all day, so I let them pick the place. They chose a vegan restaurant called Karyn’s Cooked. It was within walking distance from my hotel, so it worked out perfectly.
When we walked in to the restaurant, I remembered that Karyn’s was where a bunch of bloggers had gone during the Healthy Living Summit in Chicago in 2010. That was a different location, but I remembered that the bloggers liked the food and experience a lot, so I was pretty sure I would be happy with my choice – even though vegan food isn’t totally in my comfort zone.
We got to the restaurant just in time to get a table before the dinner rush! It also seemed like there was a pretty big line up of people getting take-out for dinner too which seemed like a great sign for the quality of the food that we were about to eat.
To start, my brother got a beer, his girlfriend got wine, and I decided I would try the Mango Martini which consisted of Rain organic vodka, lemon juice, mango puree. It was good, not super sweet or strong, and the puree was thick and tasty.
The restaurant was quite crowded, but our waitress was nice, calm, collected, and had no problem answering our questions. The menu was not huge, but believe it or not I had a bit of trouble deciding what to get!
For dinner, my brother had the Jerk Tofu sandwich which also included potato wedges and cole slaw. He enjoyed it, and it seemed like a good amount of food! I actually tried some of the tofu (see, I told you I was feeling adventurous!) and while it was too spicy for my taste, I did enjoy that the texture of the tofu was great. It had almost a crispy outside, and it was thin and solid – not watery or squishy at all, like some tofu is. If it wasn’t so spicy I wouldn’t have had a problem eating that sandwich!
My brother’s girlfriend opted for the Vegan Pizza - Traditional vegan pizza on thin whole-wheat crust, homemade soy cheese, tasty marinara sauce, seitan and veggies. If I liked veggies more, this pizza looked delicious. It was filled with lots and lots of veggies, seitan, marinara sauce, and a little bit of soy cheese. I did have some of the crust though, and it was good. It was very thin, almost cracker-like.
For my entree, I had the Classic Lasagna which was filled with smoked spinach and tofu ricotta. It was actually pretty good! The noodles and spinach were delicious (of course), and the tofu ricotta was actually really good too. I never thought I’d be a fan of non-dairy cheese. The marinara sauce tasted so fresh and tomatoey. And, of course, it came with some bread too, which was very good. The only thing that I didn’t love is that there were also red peppers and onions chopped up in the lasagna. I’m not really a fan of those so I tended to pick around them. That being said, I could tell that they definitely added flavor to the lasagna, so I guess I’m glad they were there.
Even though none of us really had much room for dessert, we happened to be sitting in front of the dessert case, so we were being tempted by it pretty much throughout the meal. Afterwards, we decided that we would order one thing for the three of us to share. We decided on the Raw Carob Mint Cake. I don’t think I’d ever had raw cake before, but I’m a big fan of the chocolate mint combination so I was hoping it wouldn’t be too strange. Turns out, it was pretty delicious! I’m not entirely sure what it was made out of, well aside from the carob and mint, but it was pretty tasty. It wasn’t too sweet, and it was definitely minty!
Overall the meal was good, hearty, and the menu had lots of different options!
I should also point out in case you are wondering, none of us follow a vegan diet normally. So yes, this vegan restaurant does have many filling options for generally meat-eating folks too. It isn’t all just bland veggies and tofu like some people imagine vegan food to be like.
Taste: A, it was definitely a solid meal.
Cost: A, it was pretty on-par with similar things at other restaurants. My lasagna was $12 and it was a hearty portion, so I’d say that was reasonably priced.