When I was in Chicago earlier this month, I took the opportunity to have a light lunch at Karyn’s On Green. I’d visited Karyn’s raw restaurant just a couple of weeks earlier and was eager to re-visit Karyn’s gourmet location. I’d been to Karyn’s On Green one other time a couple of years ago and had been very impressed by the calibre of the cuisine. While there are many amazing vegan restaurants all over the globe, vegan fine dining is more elusive. It’s a rare treat to visit the sort of place that is anniversary-worthy or birthday-worthy, that takes reservations, and where you feel like dressing up would be appropriate. Karyn’s On Green is open and spacious with an airy quality because of the tall ceilings and large front window.
That morning I’d had an indulgent breakfast at Chicago Diner, and so I was looking for something healthier and on the lighter side. After thinking about the fabulous raw entrée I had at Karyn’s Raw, I opted for a glass of coconut water and the chopped vegetable salad made with romaine hearts, seasonal vegetables, and tossed in an herbed vinaigrette. The waiter asked with what looked like a little concern, “Is that all?”
When the salad arrived, I understood what he meant. For $9.50, the salad was a bit meager. With zucchini, carrots, and broccoli, it was fresh but not exactly substantive. I began looking at the other diners noshing on tofu benedicts and vegan crab sliders and feeling some ordering envy.
The coconut water tasted sweet, like it came from a box, not fresh from the coconut. I asked the waiter about it. He kind of laughed and said, “Well, yeah. It’s just from a box.” As if it would be silly to think it would be cracked open fresh he said, “We didn’t bring the coconuts in today.” That surprised me since I’d had what tasted like fresh coconut water just a couple of weeks before at Karyn’s Raw.
I sent the coconut water back and ordered the butternut squash soup to fill out the meal since I was still hungry. The soup was made with butternut squash, of course, coconut milk, and guajillo oil. It was then topped with fried chickpeas. Despite being made with coconut milk, the soup didn’t have a strong coconut flavor. It was rich and velvety smooth. The fried chickpeas were crunchy and a creative alternative to croutons. I would have enjoyed more of them.
The soup was wonderful, and like I said, my prior visit had been incredible. Also, my husband had gone earlier in the month and was blown away by his meal. While this particular meal was not a home run, I look forward to going back to Karyn’s On Green again when I’m in the area to sample some of the decadent meals I saw people around me devouring.