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130 S Green St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-6155

Karyn’s on Green 

Categories: Vegan, Vegetarian
Neighborhoods: Near West Side, West Loop

2.0 star rating
Update - 8/6/2014
I live around the corner but had not been to Karyn's in 4 years as my previous experiences were not particularly memorable. I had a vegetarian friend in town and thought I'd give it another (last?) chance. It's safe to say my latest visit will be my last.

My recent dining experience confirmed my earlier conclusion that Karyn's is just very mediocre. The food quality ranges from above average to below average, service is unpolished and the prices are not cheap relative to the quality. Getting anything from the bar takes forever, even when the restaurant is slow.

I'd rather eat at Native Foods Cafe a few blocks over. It's obviously a different kind of restaurant than Karyn's, but the food quality is generally superior (even if lacking the visual wow factor) and is a much better value.

2 Previous Reviews: Hide »

  • 3.0 star rating
    8/31/2010

    I've been back to Karyn's a few times and thought I should give a quick update.  This time, I am giving Karyn's a flat 3 stars.  On my last trip to Karyn's, a friend of mine got the crab cakes and they were borderline inedible.  I stuck with some dishes I had eaten previously (see my prior review) and had a nice dinner.  

    I have come to the conclusion that you cannot eat dessert here.  I had the tiramisu dessert and it was flat out awful.  At best, it was reminiscent of tiramisu.  At worst, it was the culinary equivalent of digging up the originator of tiramisu only to spit on his skeleton and throw his bones in the trash.

    Bottom line on this place is that it is wildly hit or miss, with the hits being great (e.g., the chicken legs, chorizo sliders), and the misses being horrendous (e.g., corn risotto, crab cakes).  I wish Karyn's would just focus on making good food, instead of making fake, vegan versions of non-vegan dishes.

  • 3.0 star rating
    6/6/2010

    The rating is really 3.5 stars.  I like Karyn's, but it should be better than it is.  

    On my most recent visit, I had a caipirinha.  Like the cocktail I had my last time here, it tasted great but seemed to have no alcohol (and I'm a lightweight drinker).  For some reason, it takes an unusually long amount of time to get drinks here.  You're looking at 10-15 minutes minimum to get drinks- no matter what you order.

    My wife and I split the chorizo sliders as an appetizer.  We had them on a previous visit and they were just as great the second time.  Highly recommended.

    For our entrees, we got the sweet corn risotto and the chicken legs.  The sweet corn risotto was awful.  It was just rice and corn.  Very bland and not even close to the texture I would expect from a risotto dish.  The chicken legs, though, were great.  They were served with a sweet potato hash and barbecue sauce.  I would definitely get that again.

    For dessert, we had the bananas foster.  The dish is served with vanilla ice cream over a coconut cookie.  The bananas were excellent- sweet and well-caramelized.  The ice cream was good, but there wasn't enough of it to enjoy with the bananas.  It was like a bowl of bananas with a tablespoon of ice cream.  One more scoop and it would have been perfect.

    The cookie served with the dish was a complete disaster.  It was too hard for my spoon to cut (even after it had been sitting under ice cream and bananas).  After breaking a piece off, the thing tasted like I imagine particleboard would.  I just spit it out.  My wife tried it and her face recoiled like Mr. Yuck.  On our last visit, we had some scoops of ice cream served with cookies.  They were different than this, but also seemed to be made via some kind of dehydration process.  Also terrible.  While it might be some kind of scientific achievement, this is the exact type of thing that makes people say they hate vegetarian food.

    The service was solid.  Our waitress was nice and helpful.  Early into our entrees, we wanted another round of drinks, but couldn't get our server's attention until we were about finished and ready for dessert.  This same thing happened the last time.  While I have really liked the waitresses I've had here, they could stand to be more attentive.

    Karyn's on Green is really hit or miss.  The prices are very reasonable and the room is very nice.  They need to step up some of the menu items and tweak the service (especially the speed of drinks and improving some elements of table service) before it can be considered a top tier restaurant.

1851 W Addison St
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 687-8191

Endgrain 

Categories: American (New), Breakfast & Brunch
Neighborhood: Roscoe Village

2.0 star rating
7/14/2014
I do not understand the praise given to Endgrain's donuts. They're more like glazed brioche than real donuts. We ordered three: bourbon vanilla, blueberry glazed and chocolate/peanut butter. The glazes/icings on each were delicious, but these were easily the breadiest donuts I've ever eaten. We didn't come close to finishing any of them.

Maybe people in this area are so starved for donuts that they'll hype anything that comes close. Or maybe people are talking themselves into liking them after paying $3 each. Either way, I wouldn't buy these again.

Listed in: The Definitive Donut List

844 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 491-0844

Grange Hall Burger Bar 

Categories: Burgers, Breakfast & Brunch
Neighborhoods: Near West Side, West Loop

2.0 star rating
6/28/2014 1 check-in
The veggie burger is below average (starchy and without much flavor). Fries were fine, although my preference is not thick-cut fries. Service was generally OK, although we had to ask for an extra plate a few times. Interesting beer/liquor menu.

My main problem with Grange is that its veggie burger pales in comparison to Little Goat's version a few doors down. I'm not that high on Little Goat but their veggie burger is great. It is the same price as Grange's but infinitely superior. Actually, I ended up at Granger because I went to Little Goat but the wait was too long. I should have stuck it out.

I was going to give Grange 3 stars for being merely mediocre until we got the bill. 2 burgers, 2 drinks and a side of fries was $61 with tax and tip. That would be fine if we enjoyed the meal, but it just wasn't that good. My wife had a beef burger and she said it was fine if instantly forgettable. Overall, a poor value. So long as Little Goat continues to offer a better product at the same price just steps away, there's no reason for me to return.
1560 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 360-7386

Stan’s Donuts & Coffee 

Categories: Donuts, Coffee & Tea
Neighborhood: Wicker Park

3.0 star rating
6/28/2014
This is really a 2.5 star review. Stan's makes some great donuts. Service has always been helpful and friendly. However, their failure to publicly disclose a key polarizing ingredient in over half of its donuts knocks Stan's down a few stars.

I learned after maybe a dozen visits that their yeast raised donuts are made with lard. If given a choice, I wouldn't eat products made with this ingredient. Also, I took some vegetarian friends here who ate non-vegetarian donuts on my recommendation (which I never would have given had I known what was in the donuts). I would never suggest that Stan's change its recipes, but disclosing its use of lard in advance would give customers the ability to make an informed choice.

Listed in: The Definitive Donut List

64 Bergen St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 596-1511

Homage 

Category: Sporting Goods
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill

5.0 star rating
6/12/2014
Friendly, helpful staff (which is rare among skate shops). Well designed displays. Overall, a great shop. If it was my local, I'd shop here all the time.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
340 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 496-3999

Brown Bag Seafood Co. 

Categories: Salad, Seafood, Sandwiches
Neighborhood: The Loop

3.0 star rating
5/23/2014
Brown Bag has a lot of promise but is showing some new restaurant growing pains.

The concept/gimmick of writing down your own order doesn't enhance the experience. I'm not sure how this is superior to having people order at a counter. It probably sounded interesting in a brainstorming session, but in practice it's a nedless hassle as customers mill around trying to figure it out. I was there when it wasn't crowded, but imagine there would be a considerable backup when busy. The "hook" of this restaurant is easily it's weakest point.

I had the tuna tacos. Tuna should be pink in the middle. This was way over done, well past the point of dryness. The taco toppings and tortilla were solid. My side of brussels sprouts was really good.

The menu is interesting and presents a refreshing change from the other lunch options in the area. I'll give Brown Bag another few weeks before returning to see if they've streamlined the process or learned how to properly cook fish.
445 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 661-1434

Frontera Grill 

Category: Mexican
Neighborhood: Near North Side

2.0 star rating
4/25/2014
Frontera Grill is a mediocre restaurant coasting on the goodwill of a celebrity chef. I really don't understand the glowing reviews of this place. Average food would ordinarily rate 3 stars, but the prices charged here are outrageous in comparison to the quality.  

I've been here a few times and always thought that maybe I ordered the wrong things. After my most recent experience, I can safely conclude that the food is just not that good. The sweet plantains are actually great, but I wouldn't recommend a restaurant based on a single side dish. The best of the rest is the ceviche, which I rate only as above average.

The room is dark and dated. We were most recently there on a warm, sunny day and the dining room was like entering a cave. It was actually a downer as we came inside from one of the first nice days of spring.

Service was unpolished. Everyone at the table was delivered the wrong food, waiter took food order without asking about drinks, etc.

There is usually a long wait to get into Frontera, so I think many people have a sense of accomplishment getting to eat here. I feel like that, coupled with Bayless' renown, are what make people rate Frontera higher than it should be rated. If this same food was served at a new restaurant with an anonymous chef, there is no way it would be this highly regarded.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 600-4814

The Eastman Egg Company 

Categories: Food Trucks, Breakfast & Brunch
Neighborhood: The Loop

1.0 star rating
4/19/2014
I ordered the Fairfax sandwich and was told it would be ready in 7-10 minutes. 20 minutes later I had a flavorless sandwich served on a heavy, bready, tasteless roll. I pitched it after three bites as it wasn't worth finishing. A complete waste of time and money. Eastman owes me $7.
300 N Lasalle
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 329-1800

Chicago Cut Steakhouse 

Category: Steakhouses
Neighborhoods: Near North Side, River North

4.0 star rating
4/17/2014
I went for an early lunch on a weekday. At 11:55 it was nearly empty and by 12:05 it was jam packed. It was unreal how quickly it got crowded.

I had the crab and avocado appetizer and the sesame encrusted tuna entree. Both were great. Service was knowledgeable and attentive. The view was very nice.

This is not my usual scene. I don't eat beef and businesspeople in suits trying to impress others by talking loudly stress me out. I'm shocked that I enjoyed myself. If I go back to Chicago Cut, it will be to sit on the patio on a nice evening, enjoying some drinks, oysters and maybe the fish tacos.

Highly recommended for business lunches.
955 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-0707

La Colombe 

Category: Coffee & Tea
Neighborhoods: Near West Side, West Loop

3.0 star rating
4/12/2014
The coffee here is quite good, but the staff is generally unpleasant. I'm not looking to make friends with the staff, but is a "hi" or a smile out of line?

The atmosphere at Morgan Street Cafe and Little Goat Bread is much better and the coffee is just as good as La Colombe's. I'd skip this location of Colombe in favor of those nearby spots.

For the record, the Colombe location on Damen has the same great coffee but trades pretentious lames for much cooler and nicer baristas.

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