Monday, March 18, 2013

Chicago's GREEN ZEBRA gives top notch zings in the gourmet veggie dept. (3-15-13)

Our second and last dinner in Chicago was with Samuel's friend Joel and his dads at GREEN ZEBRA where we had gone several years before with just the adults.
The kids now joined us, and since one of the dads went veggie, this was the perfect choice as one of the top rated vegetarian restaurants in the USA and one of Chicago's best!
Green Zebra ( is a mixed neighborhood near the freeway on West Chicago and is small and simple with wooden décor, mats (that are to be replaced soon) on the tables
and a cozy neighborhood feel. Our server Sarah was a gem and helped us with the not too large menu, but difficult to choose from selections. Liz, the GM even came over many times with an extra dish here and there, checking to see all was fine. It was BETTER
THAN FINE...everything was even more amazing than on our last visit.
We started with a bottle of LETH 2011 GRUNER VELTLINER which Sarah said went with many of the dishes...which all come in small plate version and range from $8-13.00.
Things came out in no specific order, so it wasn't easy to pair at first and Sarah was pretty on the spot with this choice.
The amuse was a Kohlrabi with Yellow Bell Pepper Puree and Bourbon Gastrique which all loved, but Sam wanted more of!
The PinkPeppercorn Thyme Soda got raves, while the Bitter Lemon was not as big a hit. The boys were not too interested in our food and had pretty plain pasta.
We enjoyed ROASTED GOLDEN BEET SALAD, shaved watermelon radish, basil goat cheese, almond dressing
ZINGERMAN's BURRATA, parsnip puree (and crispy parsnip chips), fine herbs, Page Orange, Crabapple and aged balsamic which made one of the best veggie burrata dishes ever.
Nichols Farm 6 BEAN SOUP with salsa verde, grilled jalapeno, Haas avocado was a nice soup for a wet cold night for sure.
CRISPY RUTABAGA DUMPLINGS were a big hit with Winter Herbs & Curly Endive, a Smoked Leek Puree for dipping was fun too.
Roasted SWEET POTATO CREPES , Saigon cinnamon, seared Halloumi cheese, parsley and brown butter is less sweet than one might expect. 
Toasted SESAME NOODLES with Housemade Kimchi, Braised Lotus Root & Chinese mustard was another rteuly great combination and gave us many ideas for noodles with kimchi!
Italian WHITE CORN POLENTA CAKE had oyster mushrooms, blue cheese for a punch, spinach and Pine Nut Puree
while the SMOKED SALSIFY RISOTTO came with grilled Treviso, Orange Supreme & Fresh Dill.
The two biggest hits we did save for last and these were accompanied by a 2006 ORATOIRE St. MARTIN CAIRANNE which is a Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre that has aged perfectly.
SPICED CRIMSON LENTILS with Curried Cauliflower, tamarind glazed Onions, Almonds and Raita is divine and if you need protein hit the
CULVER DUCK FARM Duck EGG which is a huge poached egg served on top of Smoked Potato Puree with two huge slabs of Crunchy grilled Country Sourdough to mop up the "mess." This is one of Green Zebra's signature
dishes and I am so glad we had it yet again!
We also ordered two superb sides
Foraged MAITAKE MUSHROOMS with Housemade Kimchi--another wonder use of kimchi and
Sautéed Werp Farm Baby BOK CHOY with ginger ponzu and Toasted Cashews.
There was nothing we did not like all night!
By dessert we were full but had to choose some:
Sarah recommended the Sweet & Sour CHERRY COMPOTE, White Chocolate BRULEE, Pistachio Praline Crust with Spiced Port Reduction and this was indeed the winner.
The boys loved the Dark Chocolate MOUSSE for TWO with Pomegranate Gelee, Vanilla Chiffon and Pistachio (oops can't read that last word!).
Banana Gateaux with Bruleed Banana, Cocoa Nib Tuile and Banana Bourbon Ice Cream was the least favorite and needed something else
and the Roasted Pear Tart with Hazelnut Sable, Spiced Reduction and Cocoa Nib Ice Cream kind of came in the middle....
I can't rave enough about the fun and food at Green Zebra and this was mid-winter; imagine what it is like in SUMMER!