restaurant review

The Other Munch

Two restaurants named Munch in one month.

Wednesday was my birthday and I had a big day planned. I squeezed in a short treadmill run before heading over to Akasha Yoga in Crystal Lake for a massage with Jessica at Wild Roots Yoga & Bodyworks. The hour long Thai yoga massage was just what my tight hips needed. After the massage, I headed down to Oak Park to grab lunch and do some shopping. The vegetarian (mostly vegan, but some dairy cheese is offered) restaurant Munch is much better than the Woodstock restaurant of the same name. This was my second time to Munch and the food is decent. It’s no Chicago Diner or Native Foods, but they don’t try to serve you kalamata olives with Thai dressing. I ordered the “Beefy” Tostada Plate with vegan cheese. The “chorizo” seitan was tasty. The salsa was the wrong texture for me – too chunky, but it was fine without the salsa.

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The best thing about Vegetarian Munch is that it serves Temptation ice cream, which means milkshakes! I got the cookie dough shake to go and headed over to Amour de la Terre.

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Amour de la Terre is Chicago’s new vegan shoe store. They had a bunch of great brands, including a new one I had not heard of, Coral 8. Unfortunately, Coral 8’s shoes run a tad big, which is a problem when you wear a size 6, the smallest size they make. I had to say no to these beautiful driving moccasins but I did get some sparkly pumps, which at least have a t-strap to secure them.

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The shoes are not only vegan, but eco-friendly, too. No cheap plastic shoes a la Payless here. The owners are super nice and I am so happy that Chicago has something like this.

They also have a small selection of kids shoes. E and Little H have gone 11 months without wearing shoes, but Little H is almost walking and winter is coming, so it’s time to buy them some shoes. However, the one time I did buy them shoes, they were too small, so the twins need to be with me to try some on. Of course, that means another trip to Oak Park for more milkshakes and shoe shopping!

Munch!

It’s that time again! The Vegan Month of Food.

I don’t have a theme this year; I’m just trying to use Vegan MoFo to get my vegan blog mojo back. I’ll start of with a restaurant review.

Woodstock’s classic sushi/miniature golf combination ended this summer. Golden Rolls is moving to the former location of the world’s second worst restaurant, Vaughan’s Broasted Chicken. Major renovations had to be done, including removing some hideous wood siding to reveal a brick exterior! No wonder Vaughan’s closed; it had bad taste all around. There aren’t many restaurants that serve chips and guacamole along side AAC rolls and tofu steak, so I hope Golden Rolls opens soon.

A new restaurant opened up next to mini golf, Munch. We ordered take out from there. It’s still overwhelming to take two babies to a restaurant, but H said it looked baby-friendly. H called in an order; he checked the ingredients of a couple menu options that sounded vegan. However, I forgot to ask if they put butter on their hummus sandwich (?!?). Rookie mistake. Fortunately, I had some ciabatta buns in the freezer, so I transferred the “generous” schmear of hummus (the chef & I have different definitions of generous), lettuce, tomato & avocado to the ciabatta bun.

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I also got the hot ma-me salad, which was supposed to be served with edamame. The kitchen was out of edamame, so they subbed kalamata olives. I love kalamata olives, but they didn’t go well with spicy Thai peanut vinaigrette. The dressing was delicious with the other salad veggies and it would have been great to have the protein from edamame. H said the chef was very apologetic.

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Munch has potential; we’ll definitely go back again and hopefully they’ll have edamame.

We ate dinner at the kitchen counter while the twins played; our new normal “restaurant” experience.

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I love Karyn’s on Green

Our plan was to go to Karyn’s on Green for dinner on Saturday night, but unfortunately the 3:48 train never came.  At least during the hour we waited for it.  So we switched our Saturday and Sunday plans and drove out to Schaumburg for Indian food and to stop at Ikea for baskets.   I changed our reservations to Sunday lunch.

And we tried it again.  Here’s the Woodstock train station.

The train actually came on time!

We walked from Ogilvie to Karyn’s on Green.

We drank delicious TREEtinis.  These are so refreshing and a tree is planted for each TREEtini you order.

H ordered some potato leek soup that was a good mix between a brothy and creamy soup.  I love vegan restaurants because we can share everything.  He ordered the crabcake sliders (because I have talked about them non-stop since the first time I came here) and I ordered chicken and waffles with a side of mushroom tofu bacon.  We switched plates half way through.

Restaurant Review: Mixteca

Our Woodstock restaurant circuit consists of Mexican, sushi & pub food.  Tonight we had planned on going to Golden Rolls, Woodstock’s sushi restaurant, but apparently everyone knows about it now and there was an hour wait!  In Woodstock!   We have never had to wait for a table and it was 8:00.   It has decent sushi, but there is no restaurant in Woodstock, Illinois that is worth an hour wait.  Besides, the service at Golden Rolls is so slow; I imagine an hour wait for a table at Golden Rolls would only be 20 minutes at a restaurant that can promptly take a table’s order.  Sticking around an hour would be extremely frustrating.

So, we left and went across the street to Mixteca, which we refer to as the fancy Mexican restaurant, as opposed to El Niagara with its $3 margaritas served in cactus glasses or Fast Taco’s take-out menu.

Mixteca has delicious margaritas.  Its premium margaritas are on the high-end for Woodstock, but they taste very fresh.  We do make sure to order different margaritas now.  The first time we went to Mixteca, we ordered the same margarita.  I was surprised at how weak it was, but H was bright red and slumped over in his seat.  He has a low tolerance, so I was laughing at him for reacting that way to such a weak drink, but then I tasted his drink and it was practically pure alcohol!  I think they put all the alcohol in his drink and just served me some fancy lime juice.  Besides that one incident though, the drinks have been great.

Delicious raspberry margaritas.

The second best thing about Mixteca is its variety of salsa.  They bring out four salsas that range from a pepper-free roasted tomato to what I can only guess is simply pureed Thai peppers.  It is spicy!

I once tried the tostadas when we ordered delivery and that was pretty good, but at the restaurant, I always get two vegetarian tacos with extra toppings sans cheese and sour cream.   I then load them up with salsa, including one taco with the extra hot salsa.  It makes me want to cry and forces me to suck on some ice from my margarita, but in a good way.

*Photos updated 7/2/11

Restaurant Review: Surin West

After spending much of the weekend in the kitchen, we decided to go out for Sunday lunch.  We attempted to go here, but unfortunately they were closed.  Instead, we went to Surin West in Five Points, an “authentic” Thai restaurant that has more sushi on the menu than Woodstock’s Japanese restaurant.  I ordered the Spicy Basil Leaves with Tofu, which is a “three pepper” dish.  There was a bit of a spicy aftertaste, but a 1/2 pepper would have been a more appropriate classification.  Even my mom could eat it and she thought Saturday’s medium salsa was spicy.  My mom was scared away from the dish she wanted because it had one pepper and instead ordered a very bland broccoli dish.  There is no reason to be scared by the pepper rating here.  It’s probably a good idea to order at least one pepper if you like flavor.

Spicy Basil Leaves:

Broccoli:

After lunch, we went to Starbucks for coffee and left over mint chocolate cupcakes.  I love these cupcakes the next day because the cookie is soggy from sitting in frosting all night.

Frontera Grill

Cons:

  • 2 hour 20 minute wait on a Tuesday night!!
  • it serves two bean dishes, but neither is vegetarian

Pros:

  • amazing margaritas!
  • the best blackened portobello mushrooms ever
  • fun colorful decor

Meh:

  • the rice was kind of sweet. it was weird.
  • guacamole did not live up to the unrealistic expectations I had for it

My brother-in-law was in Chicago for work this week, so H & I went down to meet him. We picked Frontera Grill because it is supposed to be phenomenal. H went to a drug rep dinner here and has raved about it since then. We knew the wait would be bad, but we figured we’d just hang out in the bar with some drinks and chat. Margaritas were good and once we managed to snag a spot at the bar, we ordered some guacamole and chips. Guacamole is one of my most favorite foods and I love ordering it at fancy Mexican restaurants. I really expected this to be the best guacamole that I’ve ever eaten. It was not. It was good though and we were pretty hungry, so it went fast.

We finally got a table and ordered immediately (we picked out what we wanted at the bar). There was a 9:30 train back to the ‘burbs and we were cutting it very close. The waiter said he would hurry to order, but his estimated 15 minutes didn’t happen and H had to leave because he was on stroke call. He agreed to pick me up in Crystal Lake, which is the last stop for the 10:30 train and I’d bring his food with me. Shortly after he left, our food came. I proceeded to stuff my face with portobello mushroom tacos and more guacamole. The tortillas were good and the the mushrooms were delicious. The only thing that was off was the rice.

There were two vegetarian options. I got the Tacos al Carbon: wood-grilled mushrooms sliced and served with roasted pepper rajas, two salsas, frijoles charros (sub rice), guacamole and homemade tortillas. The other was Pozole Verde Vegetariano: robust braise of pozole corn, pumpkinseeds, tomatillos, and local fall vegetables. Classic crunchy garnishes (Napa cabbage, radish, onion, cilantro), Mexican oregano, plantain tostada, lime. The menu changes every few weeks, which is good for vegetarians if there is only one or two options.

http://www.fronterakitchens.com/restaurants/restaurants.html

Karyn’s on Green

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Chicago!  I love the city and people who have heard of the word “vegan” and people who own vegan restaurants and make delicious vegan food.  Today I went to Karyn’s on Green for lunch with some old friends.  It was amazing!  I got the crab cake sliders with herb frites and BBQ sauce.  At our table we also had the butternut squash soup, buffalo chicken pita, and chopped vegetable salad.  For dessert, we shared the chocolate terrine and peach cobbler.  The terrine was fabulous.

The decor is very modern; the lighting fixtures are unique.  It was quiet when we were there (two o’clock in the afternoon), but the space is quite large.  I’d love to go back and see a big crowd enjoying vegan food!  Our server was very nice and helpful.  He went through the menu and told us what the best thing of each section was.  He recommended the crab cake sliders and I am so glad I followed that recommendation.

My phone was almost dead and I needed it to last through the evening, so I didn’t take any pictures.  I created a slideshow from the pictures on Karyn’s on Green website.  The lunch, dinner, brunch and dessert menus are all online.   http://www.karynsongreen.com

I can’t wait to go back!