GG and I went into Chicago Saturday night for dinner. It was a special occasion for us to go into Chicago just for dinner, my birthday dinner. We had looked at several places for dinner, we were going to go to Topolobampo as I have said that I wanted to try one of the Rick Bayless restaurants and GG thought that Topo sounded really good. I agreed and was really excited about it until the two of us started to look into the restaurant more. We decided for the money it was going to cost us, it might not be worth it. We had read several reviews that said the portion sizes were really small and that although the food was amazing people left the restaurant hungry still. We decided we wanted to go somewhere different where we would not still be hungry even after eating especially if we were spending a small fortune. GG did some research and found Green Zebra.
Green Zebra is an upscale vegetarian restaurant that had gotten some really good reviews that we had seen online and after making the reservation, GG had talked to a friend who had loved the food at Green Zebra. The menu is not huge, but there are many different types of food, but all vegetarian. We had thought about before we had gone that we would get the tasting menu at Green Zebra and even after looking at the menu, we thought the tasting menu sounded like a really good idea. Everything sounded so good we were not sure how to pick what we wanted and the tasting menu had five courses, four savory courses and one desert course. I also ordered a beer, Laguinta's Copper Ale. First, the beer was really good. Anyway, back to the meal, so when we ordered the tasting menu, the waiter mentioned that everything that comes with the tasting menu is not on the regular menu, but is fresh and organic foods. We waited with anticipation for our food. They do have bread available with a member of the wait staff walking around with the bread basket offering you a slice of white or wheat bread and some butter. The butter was a European butter, so it was rich and creamy. It was a bit odd to not have the bread basket on the table for us to peruse when we wanted but this also kept us from filling up on bread, which was great as we had plenty of food coming. They brought out a double shot glass of a leek and sweet potato soup which was amazing and drinking soup out of a double shot glass was really interesting and fun. We started with a salad of frisee, puffed wild rice, and an onion that was filled with more wild rice (this was amazing and I think GG's favorite course). We then had a smoked tomato soup that had chili oil and a buttermilk foam on top. Both GG and I liked this soup, it was a bit different and interesting. We both immediately noted the smoked smell, with me thinking of smoked salmon and her of bacon. Next was an abalone mushroom that had been poached in butter accompanied by a corn madeline, concord grape reduction and pistachios. GG was not fond of the madeline, but she does not like cornbread anyway so this is not a surprise. This was my favorite of the savory dishes, I love mushrooms and had never heard of let alone tasted an abalone mushroom, which was amazing. Our waiter said the mushrooms were grown in Oregon state. Our final savory dish was a squash mousse with what we guessed was a pumpernickel bread crust with an apple cider gastric accompanied by brussel sprouts and chanterelle mushrooms on the side. This was amazing and GG decided she is going to figure out how they made this as it would make a great breakfast food or something with Thanksgiving dinner as their was a taste of maple syrup in with the squash mousse. The final course was desert, which was homemade pumpkin ice cream and three blinis with maple syrup to pour over the blinis or the ice cream as GG chose to do.
The meal was simply amazing. It was filling without being too filling. We did not leave hungry, but we were not overstuffed either. The chef was able to show us a variety of different food items, all of them a bit different than the usual take on vegetables and vegetarian cuisine. There was no tofu in any of our dishes although they do have dishes with tofu on their menu. As we were eating, we saw one of their mushroom popovers come to the table beside us and it also looked delicious. The food was simply delectable and the service was very good as well. The only complaint I had, and this is pretty minor, is that the booth that GG and I were seated at was a bit close to the table next to us. It was a raised booth with two tables very close to each other. I seemed like a better fit for a table of four or maybe it was because neither GG nor I are small people, but I was a bit cramped behind the table the entire meal. This was OK for part of the meal as pretty soon after we arrived the couple beside us left and for most of the course there was no one beside us before two more people came into the booth next to us. But when I did have to enter or exit the booth I did feel as though I had to place my butt right in the other diners faces or right on their table to get out. This is pretty minor as the food and service overcame this and we learned to ask for a table next time and there will be a next time, GG is talking about going to the Green Zebra for her birthday. If you are ever in the Chicago area and want a really good, fancier, vegetarian or just really good food restaurant, the Green Zebra would be my suggestion.