Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A WEEKEND OF VEGAN EATS: CHICAGO APRIL 2018

Ground Control Chicago

Another weekend in Chicago, another round up of vegan eats! I like to explore places that are both dedicated vegan/vegetarian, and also less expected spots to find veg-friendly food. This trip definitely proved a success on both fronts. Keep reading to explore this weekend's finds featuring City Mouse, Wasabi, Ground Control and Dusek's!


City Mouse at Ace Hotel Chicago

City Mouse at Ace Hotel Chicago
Love the green velvet/marble/brass vibe. Never without my trusty Angela Roi bucket bag!

City Mouse at Ace Hotel Chicago
Always an Aperol Spritz.

On Friday afternoon we popped into City Mouse at the Ace Hotel Chicago for lunch. We didn't have a reservation, but it wasn't an issue, and we were seated right away.

The hotel itself is a gorgeous space, lots of windows and natural light, dramatic design, but still managing to be approachable and inviting. City Mouse is located just off the lobby, and feels like a natural extension of the hotel itself. With one side offering a more lounge-like setting, great for a casual meal or cocktails, and the other with proper tables for a more formal meal.

While not hugely veg-forward, the lunch menu does offer a few vegan/veganizable options. I went with the brussel sprouts grain bowl with cucumber, dried mango and spicy coconut vinaigrette. It was delicious and quite hearty. Although I have to say, the roasted squash soup was my favorite. Although not mentioned on the menu, it had a bit of Thai flair to it with coconut milk and lemongrass notes. The apple garnish also seemed to be pickled in some fashion and added a nice contrast to the creamy coconut and sweet squash.

They also offered an avocado toast option, as well as the "herbivore burger", which while the patty itself is vegan, the bun is not (come on, guys!). If the bun was vegan, I probably would have tried that - our neighbor ordered it and it looked delicious!

City Mouse at Ace Hotel Chicago
Brussel Sprout Grain Bowl.

City Mouse at Ace Hotel Chicago
Squash Soup.

WASABI



Wasabi gained popularity from it's signature ramen bowls, but has recently opened a second outpost that offers sushi (so recently that their menu doesn't exactly reflect two neighboring locations in Logan Square, but it's true!). Of course, the large majority of the menu includes seafood, however there are quite a few veggie dishes, skweres, bowls, sushi etc. I started my meal with miso soup and ginger salad, which while basic in nature, were both very delicious. For my entree, I went for their "Hot Yogi Vegan" signature roll. I can't recommend this enough - it was SO delicious, filling and best of all, interesting! So often veggie sushi is a snoozefest, but this roll was complex in flavor and kept me coming back for more.

Wasabi Chicaog

Wasabi Chicago - Hot Yogi Vegan roll
Hot Yogi Vegan roll.

Ground Control



Ground Control is a completely vegetarian restaurant in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Bonus, nearly everything on their diverse menu can be made vegan! The most rare (but best) problem for a vegan to have, too many options to choose from!

Our table shared the tofu buffalo wings, which were shockingly convincing and super yummy. I had the tofu banh mi as my meal, it was really delicious and filling.

Ground Control Chicago
Tofu Buffalo Wings.

Ground Control Chicago
Tofu Banh Mi. 
Nothing will stop me from eating this banh mi!



Not even cameras!

Dusek's

Dusek's Chicago

Dusek's is an upscale gastropub (hello Michelin star) in Pilsen, a gentrifying neighborhood on Chicago's lower west side. While offering a high end dining experience, Dusek's is nothing if not approachable. The vibe is decidedly low key, and the service is down to earth without losing attention to detail.

I'm #blessed that my long time, super talented friend, Matt, is part of their exceptional kitchen team, and on Saturday he invited us out to join him for dinner. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous as Dusek's/gastropub cuisine isn't typically known to be accomodating of a vegan diet, but I'm so glad I didn't let that stop me. The entire team at Dusek's, from our waiter Amanda, chef Mike, and even the food runners, were extremely understanding, attentive, and most importantly, inclusive. I was never once made to feel like a burden or a nuisance, and Amanda was sure to explain each dish clearly so I could understand what was on/off limits.

Now I fully understand having a friend in the back of house helps my cause, but I was assured that the team at Dusek's would offer the same service to any patron, and based on the genuineness of their staff and my experience, I don't doubt it to be true.

To start our meal, the table shared the Werp Farms Greens salad, with watermelon radish, fennel, orange, crispy quinoa, tahini vinaigrette (minus feta to make vegan), and the roasted beet with bulgar wheat salad, crispy onion, orange, fennel, and pistachio (minus horseradish cream to make vegan). While echoing each other ingredient wise, these two dishes couldn't have been more unique. The green salad was fresh and bright, while the beets were smokey and hearty feeling. No one even missed the dairy component.  Highly recommend both!

For my entree, Chef Mike was kind enough to prepare a special off-menu dish of curried roasted cauliflower, english pea falafel and a decadent tahini sauce. It was truly exceptional, and all of my dining companions agreed that it should be added to the menu (hint, hint - Bruce and Craig). I felt (read: was) exceptionally spoiled, and honestly, I didn't hate it.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was dessert. Chef prepared 4 flavors of dairy-free sorbet, and while they were all delicious, I would probably sell off my first born for a supply of the 'coconut ash' flavor. I'm not asking how or why, I just want it forever and ever. It's probably not worth trying to put into words but, imagine a smooth, creamy sorbet made exclusively from perfectly roasted, golden brown marshmallows. Perhaps it was the experience of being transported back to childhood for a moment, maybe it was just that damn good, all I know is that we had a major spoon war going on at the table.

A big thanks to everyone there, especially my boy Matt, for making the meal so special!


Dusek's Chicago
Roasted Beets.

Dusek's Chicago
Werp Farms Green Salad.

Dusek's Chicago
English Pea Falafel and Roasted Cauliflower.

Dusek's Chicago
Sorbet - (clockwise) Coconut Ash, Tutti Frutti, Kiwi and Mango.
Our happy and food comatose group.



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