There's something about vegan dining that'll make you feel refreshed for eating healthier and full because of the fiber and other natural ingredients. This was the case while visiting Chicago's vegan restaurant Karyn's Fresh Corner and raw vegan restaurant Karyn's Bistro located at 1901 N. Halsted St.
This location is a blend of the open, bright, neighborhood spot of Karyn Calabrese's restaurant Karyn's Cooked at 738 N. Wells St., with the dim, quiet, sexy ambience of Karyn's on Green at 130 S. Green St.
Calabrese has the perfect location for the healthy eater on the go. There's a fitness studio towards the back, where a trampoline class is being taught two days a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The shopping area of Karyn's Inner Beauty Center includes various items, such as hair products, skin products, recipe books, health books, snacks and then full meals towards the front. Customers can grab their meals from the refrigerated stands or order directly from Karyn's Cafe counter and sit at the open tables by the windows.
If customers are looking for something a little more quiet, walk a few feet over to the raw vegan restaurant Karyn's Bistro. R&B oldies pump from the stereos while wine glasses and candles are on each table in the dimly lit diner. A sign is posted near the entrance to sit wherever you like and a waitress comes out within a minute or two.
Chosen foods for this review were an appetizer of Sliders with real mustard, an entree of salmon rolls and a drink of water with a cucumber slice and a Raw Cacao Super Food Smoothie.
For customers used to drinking vegetable smoothies, such as those in Kimberly Snyder, C.N.'s book "The Beauty Detox Diet," the Raw Cacao Super Food Smoothie is pretty good. Don't be fooled by the coconut butter or almond milk. This drink is not sweet, and raw cacao powder tastes more like dark chocolate (bitter) than it does regular milk chocolate. The spirulina taste overpowers the other ingredients (dates and maca), too, but it's said to be a healthy protein drink. However, Medline Plus states that there needs to be more research done on spirulina to identify the other perks.
The slider appetizers are two dainty circles of mini almond patties on savory bread with sweet pickle relish. Holding them by hand may prove difficult because they break apart easily, but the sweet pickle relish is a delicious (and slightly salty) touch to add more flavor to them.
Anyone who enjoys various types of "vegetarian" style seaweed rolls will probably find the salmon rolls tasty. They're made of butternut squash walnut pate in nori (seaweed) with avocado and crunchy vegetables. Tamari and wasabi are side items, and the wasabi is in liquid form instead of the paste commonly found in other restaurants or takeout spots. Be careful with dipping the wasabi. It's spicy and only requires a smidgen.
The customer service is warm, inviting and both the cashier in Karyn's Fresh Corner and the waitress in Karyn's Bistro were quick to ask about feedback on the food and suggest other items customers may enjoy.
Although dessert was an option, the sample vegan ice cream chosen was instead, and that taste portion was incredible. It's difficult to believe it has no dairy with just the right amount of sweet and moist. With an empty stomach before visiting the location, the meal left me feeling satisfied and stuffed.
The takeout and dining food selections are on the pricy side but reasonable for fresh homemade items and fresh fruit and vegetables.
According to the site, Karyn's Bistro is also a bring your own bottle/beer/booze (BYOB) location but there is a mandatory $5 corkage fee.
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