While Karyn's on Green can be very expensive, if you cut out the alcohol your bill will probably be about $60-70 for two people. With alcohol and desserts, you are looking at about $125 (they do have organic liquor which is nice). It is the place to go for a vegan who wants to splurge, take someone out on a very nice date, or show an omnivore the classy side to plant-based dining.
The menu at Karyn's on Green changes here and there (I believe it is seasonally). The menu sort of combines the other Karyn's restaurants, Karyn's Cooked and Karyn's Raw, plus added options. Karyn's Cooked is more like home cooked food (ex: barbeque pork and the crispy mixed basket) and Karyn's Raw is quality raw dining. For starters, I always like to begin with the roasted foraged mushrooms. They've changed this dish in the past year, though. It used to come with a sauce which it now desperately needs. While it is still enjoyable, the polenta that the mushrooms sit on is quite dry. The taro sticks give the dish a nice crunch, though. Of course, you're going to have to love mushrooms for this dish and I am definitely an avid fungi fan. This causes a problem for me because I always order this dish (despite I think it needs that sauce)! I have heard the aged raw cheese plate is to die for, so one day I will order that instead. Crossing fingers.
My friend and I got soup and salad before our entree's. If you tell your waiter that you'll be splitting those, they will bring each out on two separate plates. For soup, we had the butternut squash. This was really good. In the past, I've had soups from this restaurant that have been way too salty. They have apparently fixed this problem. The oil drizzle adds a nice complimentary touch to the soup itself. Much like my problem with the appetizer round, I always get the Caesar salad at Karyn's. I really enjoyed Caesar salads prior to becoming vegan which I think is the root of my problem here. Again, I have found in the past that this dish can be salty, but the last couple times it has been perfect. The dressing is fantastic and you have to love those croutons. I have also had the chopped vegetable salad in the past. It was pretty good, but if you are looking for a special vegan salad, I would really recommend the Caesar salad (you don't see a vegan Caesar that often!).
Ah, the entree round. I've had a number of the options on their menu on previous dining outings. This time, we tried the pumpkin risotto and the marinated portobello steak (my staple here - told you I have a fungi addiction!). The risotto was prepared beautifully. Creamy and perfect for fall weather. Since I took these pictures, they have modified the marinated portobello steak on their menu. As you see in the picture, it came with fingerling potatoes and wilted spinach. Now it comes with horseradish mashed potatoes and creamed spinach with the same balsamic reduction. I've had both version since they changed the menu (they deliver to me!) and was surprised they changed it. The previous version with fingerling potatoes was much better. The new version is okay, but I was sad to see it modified. Perhaps I have to try it at the restaurant to give it a better chance. Other entree menu items I have had are the crab cakes and the fra diavolo. The crab cakes are a nice meal. Not too dry and the sauce gives the crab cakes a great flavor boost. I've only had the fra diavolo once a long time ago and from what I recall, it was great as well. I'll have to try it again, though, since it has been a while! I've also heard the chicken legs are a real treat. Never had them, but definitely willing to try them one day too.
Any place that I can get a dessert cocktail that is vegan is the place for me. Karyn's not only has a small dessert libation menu, but fantastic sweets too. They used to have a chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and some kind of ice cream that was to die for. For our dinner, we had the pumpkin cheesecake. This was really tasty. I loved the ice cream that went with the cheesecake. The crumble gave the dessert an added crunch which it really needed due to all the creamy elements. A couple was having the doughnuts and coffee ice cream near our table and that looked very cute and yummy too!
If you can't tell from my review, I really love Karyn's on Green. It is one of my top five vegan restaurants in the city. The service can be spotty, though. I've had some really great waiters and some really snooty ones. I give the place a 4.5/5 because of this.
For a complete review, please see my blog here: http://veganmiss.blogspot.com/2011/12/vegan-chicago-restaurant-review-of_05.html