Karyn's Cooked

September 19 2005 - 11:09 AM

After the francheezie I figured I would take it easy at lunch and go to Karyn’s Cooked, a vegan restaurant and sister of Karyn’s Bistro. It’s billed as “conscious comfort food.” The idea of a large steaming bowl of macrobiotic is not really that comforting to me. Especially having to walk past Fogo De Chao en route, Luckily that wasn’t what I got.

I confess when I go to a vegetarian restaurant and see items that try to be the veggie-version of something I tend to cringe. Karyn’s offers spaghetti and meatballs, a mechanical bull for sale slab of ribs, and a steak sandwich. I was just glad they didn’t italicize the faux part of the item.

They also offer grilled polenta layered with wild porcini and shitake
mushrooms, a lasagna with smoked spinach and tofu ricotta, and Southern
Comfort: beans, greens, rice and cornbread.

I ordered a spring roll, macaroni and cheese, and had a taste of the navy bean soup and the chili.

The fried foods are all fried in olive oil and I have to say I enjoyed
the spring rolls. I have tried frying in olive oil and have grown to
hate the flavor. However the spring rolls were very fried and very
tasty. The macaroni and cheese arrived and looked chunky and not
cheesy. This may be a function of soy cheese not really being that
cheesy. It was very tasty as well. Like the spring rolls it was trying
hard to compete with something that is a standard. For people who can’t
have cheese it’s better than nothing. But that’s not really a selling
point is it. I would say¬†jumpers for sale it’s a twist on Mac and Cheese…? Well maybe.
It’s an example of how imitation has a hard time competing. This never
got past the pale imitation category.

The navy bean soup was wonderful. The stock gave it a rich complexion
and I could have made a meal of it. The chili was very good and also
had a good base but, here’s my bias, a vegetarian chili is a vegetarian
chili.

All in all I was hoping for more Green Zebra and less vegetarian
versions of other things. There are fabulous veggie dishes out there
that even non-veggies would love. A sesame spinach goma-ae I had this
weekend fit into that category. But that is another review.

Karyn’s Cooked

738 N. Wells St.
Chicago

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