When one thinks about Chicago cuisine, certain obvious associations come to mind. We're the land of the fried and the home of the cheese. We overload on pleasure here.
That's what makes Karyn Calbrese such an interesting figure on our food scene. She isn't here to preach the virtues of some kind of local food innovation you'd expect ... she doesn't have a recipe for a magical pizza hot dog, as far as we know, anyway, and if she did, there wouldn't be anything close to pork, beef or cheese in it. Karyn is our hometown apostle of vegan food, and the brain behind Karyn's Cooked and Karyn's Fresh Corner, and she's here with some seemingly very un-Chicago ideas: raw, organic, vegan food.
The great thing is, she consistently nails it. The sexy, contemporary space, with its high ceilings and neat and clean, uncluttered dining space is a temple to vegan eating. If you want a special night with the non-carnivore in your life, this may be the premiere destination in the city. Towering, slender glass vases adorn the tables, vine-like flowers clambering out of them give the dining area a beautifully eerie look.
Despite all this, prices here are affordable, as Karyn tries to keep her cuisine accessible. Appetizers, like the vegan crab cakes with sauteed spinach and a mustard sauce start at $8, and a typical entree like the poached salmon, or the (yes!) BBQ bacon meatloaf cost around $15.
Karyn's has a selection of organic, sustainable wines available from the bar, as well as a variety of craft beers and alcohol. If you don't imbibe, green, whole food mocktails are available as well.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Bill Burman