Friday, December 28, 2007

Karyn's Cooked- First Time, Baby!

Yep- more desserts in this post! I guess I should say that you better be getting used to this since I do love me some sweet stuff! Oh well, I think pictures of cakes always look better than pictures of salads (not that they aren't gorgeous in their own right).

Well, yesterday was a totally awesome day for me! Since my little brother and sister had gone to the Hannah Montana concert a couple of weeks ago, along with doing some other things that I have not had the chance to, my parents wanted to do something special for me. My dad, being the super sweet guy he is, remembered a conversation he had with a vegan he met at his health club (how cool is that?) about a month ago. My dad mentioned that we went to the Chicago Diner for my birthday in November (and I loved it! My family actually really liked it, too). Anyways, the other man then mentioned that he thought that the Chicago Diner wasn't great (gasp!) and went on about how much he loved Karyn's Cooked in the city. dad offered to meet my mom and I for lunch there yesterday during his break from work. I also invited my Aunt Kathy, who brought her daughter, Isabel, since she's very health conscious and open to veg*n food. I didn't bother bringing my camera since I really just wanted to focus on having a special time with my family rather than the pictures, but I tried every dish that people ordered (how often can a vegan say that? I love it!), so I can review them and got pics of the many leftovers.

Okay, to start my dad ordered the combo basket appetizer with broccoli, tofu, and fries. I'm not a fan of fried food at all, but tried a piece of each and had to go back for more of the tofu and broccoli! They were light and crisp, but still soft on the inside and perfectly cooked. This came with a barbecue sauce and a garlic sauce, both of which where excellent! My favorite was the garlic sauce, and as I ate it I got worried for a second, out of instinct I suppose, because it didn't taste vegan at all! I feel as though this was shitty for my health, but then I remember that's it's fried in olive oil, which is full of good fats! As you can tell my the small amount of leftovers, everyone loved this dish. My little cousin, Isabel, along with he twin brother, happen to be the healthiest seven year olds to ever exist. It's amazing. She got a blueberry banana smoothie to drink, which I absolutely had to try. Oh man- that was good! Very smooth and creamy, yet not too sweet. Onto the main courses now!

This is my mom's grilled vegetable wrap. I had the second half for lunch today and it is very good! It was slightly soggy since it had been in the fridge for a day, so I'm sure the texture was nicer at the restaurant. The flavor of the sauce was really yummy and it was very health food-ish (not in a bad way though!). My mom liked it a lot, but she mentioned that she liked her grilled vegetable sandwich at the Chicago Diner better, but I don't really think you can compare the two, but more on that later.

I really wanted the jerk tofu wrap, but after reading other reviews online, I was afraid it would be far too spicy and I didn't want to miss out on any of the flavor. Instead, I got the "steak" wrap, which had lots of grilled onions and peppers, lettuce, and chipotle sauce. The seitan had a nice texture and "tasted like grill" according to my aunt. The sauce was slightly spicy and the onions and peppers provided a great sweetness. All of the wraps were served with some potato wedges (they're like a giant french fry!) and some coleslaw, which tasted like celery- just celery. The wrap itself was good, but next time I go I would love to try something else as well.

Both my aunt and dad got the falafel sandwich, which they liked but didn't think it was the best. However, this is probably because my dad is used to falafels from Old Jerusalem near his work, so this one was really different. Also, my dad and aunt both requested some extra tahini sauce since it wasn't served with very much a
nd, after trying a bite myself, I agree that the sauce was needed for some extra flavor. I loved it though, but then again, I've never tried a falafel before this so I don't have much to compare it to. My cousin just got the guacamole appetizer, served with tortilla chips, for her lunch since she is a tiny girl with a tiny stomach (well, sometimes). I'm assuming she liked it since she didn't complain at all.

Now, as soon as I walked into this place I KNEW I wanted dessert since the cakes and pies are displayed the second you enter. However, I was sooo full after lunch hat I had no room for any cake or pie! Oh no! But before I could even mention it, my dad told me I better go check out the display case to decide what I would bring home- yay :) I guess my dad knows my love of sweets all too well. I took Isabel with me as we inspected the desserts, and she even spotted some coconut cake she insisted on getting. As for myself, I couldn't decide if I wanted a slice of tiramisu cake, banana cake, raspberry cheesecake, sweet potato pie, chocolate silk pie, or lemon meringue pie! Taking this thought back with me to my seat, I began thinking about which option would give me the most satisfaction. I had no idea what to get! My mom asked me which ones looked good and, after I listed about everything they had to offer, she asked my dad if I could get a slice of cake and pie. He said: "Of course! When I told her to go pick somethings out, I meant two or three!" I cannot tell you how happy I was at that moment! I finally decided to get a slice of the tiramisu cake and lemon meringue pie to go and my cousin got a slice of coconut cake to take home as well. I'm sure her dad will be eating most of it, though!

Once I got home I unwrapped the desserts to check them out and take some pics:

Oh the pie- smooth, creamy lemon filling hidden under a cloud or light and airy "meringue" (okay, so it's more like whipped cream, but it's too good to complain!). Sure, I only had a bite after I took this picture just to taste it, but that bite was yummy! I know that whenever I do decide to eat it I will definitely be cutting this in half because it's one big slice. Or I could just find somebody to split it with me.....

Okay, so if that slice of pie was big, then this piece of tiramisu cake here is GINORMOUS. The pictures really don't show how truley large this cake is. After I cut it in half, my parents each had two large bites of it, and it still made me feel like I was in a sugar coma after eating just one of the halves! But oh man- this is decadent. The cake itself has a slight chocolate flavor, not as much as you would guess from looking at it, and the frosting has a really smooth, mellow coffee flavor. It really tastes like I remember tiramisu tasting; I haven't had it in years though. Either way, after my dad had a bite he said, "The food at Karyn's was you know, fine, but I would honestly go back just for the dessert!" Now that is impressive coming from my incredibly omnivorous dad!

So the real question is: is it better than the Chicago Diner? My answer: no. Now that does not mean that it is worse, I just have trouble comparing the two. Remember, I've only eaten at these two restaurants once, so take my reviews lightly. Karyn's atmosphere is very artsy, comfortable, but still classy. The service wasn't awful, but not very good either. Our lunch involved a lot of waiting and, by the time we wanted our check and desserts, we had to ask a waitress who wasn't even ours and never saw our waiter once we left. The food is obviously health food, but still delicious. I would say that the highlight of our meal was definitely the desserts, which did not at all taste healthy and were excellent. The Chicago Diner, on the other hand, has a really fun, friendly atmosphere that makes you just wanna sit back and talk as loud as you'd like. Both restaurants are very small, but the Chicago Diner is much smaller and crowded, which makes it cozy. The food is so yummy it tastes like it'd be awful for you, though I'm sure it's not, and it was so good I wanted to lick my plate. The menu is a little more varied and definitely has something for everybody, which I appreciate living in a family of omni's. Once again, the desserts were superb and very rich. So there you go, both places are excellent in their own ways; I know that my family would be a little more willing to eat a meal at the Diner as opposed to Karyn's, though would be okay with either and happy to grab dessert at both. Personally, I was very happy with both restaurants, and loved my meal at Karyn's not only for the restaurant itself, but for the thought behind it on my parent's part to try to do something special for me :)

1 comment:

Kati said...

I love Karyn's - my boyfriend and I lived just a few short blocks away, so we'd visit just about every week. Brunch there is phenomenal - you must go back for that! The jerk tofu is definitely too spicy, don't bother with it. Personally, I think the desserts at Karyn's beat Chi Diner any day, but I like the variety of options at the latter. Both excellent restaurants in their own right, I'd have to agree. :-)