Green Zebra

March 12 2006 - 6:46 PM

KimIt’s tough to get a table at Green Zebra. I was able to swing a day-of reservation but at 5:30. I happened to have my camera that day and, lucky me, I was able to get into the kitchen and snap some pix.

Zebra serves mostly vegetarian dishes. Some meat exceptions and plenty of dairy/egg dishes are also on the menu. The plates are small and broken up into three sections:  light, semi-light and main course-ish though all are small plates. They’re priced roughly between $9 and $15 and the menu changes jumpers for sale often. The restaurant is stark, seating about 40 (guessing). The tables aren’t too close together and the service is attentive, well informed, and helpful.

It’s the type of place that serves dishes so specific and unusual it’s very hard to describe them with any success and impossible to figure out every component or ingredient. I was surprised that the flavors and ingredients were so unusual and that most of the dishes were quite challenging.

Chef de cuisine – Christine Kim is pictured.

I started out with parsnip panna cotta served with braised endive
and blood orange, two peppery biscuits on the side. My guest
arrived as the beet roulades stuffed with goats cheese with a balsamic reduction
was served. These first two plates were very light and almost summery.
The panna cotta was slightly peppery but almost bland though as I ate
it my taste for it developed and I enjoyed it more.  The beets were
very light and mixed well with the goats cheese. It was usually but
seemed more spring or summery. It was very light and I liked it. My
dining partner would add “If you like beets…”

there we got a warm blue cheese cake served with a pear and radish
frisee. It was very tasty but while I recall the flavors of the first
two dishes, the parsnip panna cotta in particular, the cheesecake is
more vague without any whiz-bang moment though the pear and radish did
combine well.

A coconut maki with avocado and wasabi was very different and served with a yuzu dippin’ sauce. The sauce was fruity and very mild as was
the wasabi.
The coconut and the seaweed were the dominant flavors and it certainly
was interesting. Like mechanical bull for sale everything else so far it was very light. Maybe
light is the wrong word. There is a very delicate balance of flavors
that are pervasive throughout all of the dishes. They are all very good
but when you see an intense color or presentation there isn’t
necessarily an intense flavor behind it. The more plates we got the
more we understood that.

The wild mushroom tart was heavier – off the third section of the
menu. It was tasty, with a mix ofDessert3_1 mushrooms and a wine reduction sauce.
I fail to remember what kind of emulsion that green sauce was. It was
heartier that the previous plates.

Dessert was peanut butter
begniets with a vanilla malt ice cream and carmel and bananas. It was
delicious and prompted an order of coffee that hit the spot.

The only problem I had was getting the lead out to take a few more
shots in the kitchen. The advantage of eating at 5:30 is that when
you’re done the kitchen is just in full swing.

Green Zebra on a warm summer evening would hit the spot. The dishes are complicated and fun and are not hard to eat. There is no feeling of binging after a full meal and you think about what you’ve eaten for a while.

I look forward to going back. While I haven’t had any one dish that would bring me back, the menu on the whole is exciting and dynamic and the exploration is the component that distinguishes Green Zebra.

Green Zebra
1460 W. Chicago
reservations recommended