April 2009


Vegetarian Heaven

Ok, I want to get this out of the way up front: I am not a vegetarian.

There, I’ve said it, and in the next breath, for the second night in a row I found myself, and a book, at The Chicago Diner.

It’s been meat free since 1983, vegan friendly, and rather close to where I am staying—close enough that I opted to eat dinner there last night because the other options were expensive and were not appetizing at first glance.

Now I’ve been to Roots in Bloomington (Indiana) several times, and although I’ve had good times (thanks to the people I’ve dined with), I’ve never really left feeling completely satisfied with the meal. The only thing I’ve ever craved from the Roots menu is the Sweet Potato Fries—but that’s not something that would drive a dining decision—especially since they don’t always come out right.

The Chicago Diner, on the other hand, has something I crave—so much so that despite a plethora of choices in Chicagoland, I found myself returning there tonight for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Shake. Perhaps the word “shake” ought to be in quotes, because it’s vegan, which means no milk and no lactose, which means I can eat it without consequences, other than my expanding waistline.

Sure Kroger stocks Lactose Free Ice Cream but it comes in only one flavor, and I have to buy a gallon of it when I might only want a couple of scoops—and when you’re staying in a hotel after you’ve eaten the two scoops of lactose free ice cream, what on earth are you supposed to do with the leftovers?

It started last night, after being seated at the bar, I looked through the menu and studied the desserts, even before considering the mains. They had vegan shakes! An idea was firmly implanted in my mind—the dye cast, as it were.

That said, I went ahead and ordered my main course first—I might be willing to eat my meals in reverse at home, but in a proper diner, this would not do. My choice: the vegetarian lasagna, which—as vegetarian lasagnas go—was excellent. It comes with a side of vegetables and a bit of salad—so save for the lasagna noodles separating the layers of vegetables, everything was pretty much the same texture.

Although healthy and filling, its not a complete meal without dessert.

Aaron, my personal eyecandy waiter, played the part perfectly—although he didn’t know that it didn’t matter. He tempted me with the dessert menu, telling me about some of the other items on the dessert menu and left me to consider my options. It was all a charade on my part. I pretended to read the menu—when in reality the only decision I had was to choose between a small and large shake. I opted for small.

I was sitting at the bar so I got to watch my shake get shook by one of the diner’s other eyecandy staff members right in front of me—It tasted better than I could have imagined.

Which means that tonight when I returned to The Chicago Diner, I picked a smaller main course (going with Potstickers), and the larger shake.

The only question left concerns tomorrow’s dinner: will I make it three in a row?

6 comments to Vegetarian Heaven

  • Jul

    Mmmm… sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out the next time I’m in Chicago (whenever that may be).

    Munich, surprisingly, has several fabulous veggie restaurants. Unfortunately I bet none of them serves cookie dough shakes.

  • I grew up in (the burbs of) Chicago and I can guarantee you that no one has ever told me that the vegetarian food was what they loved about Chi-town!

    Where is the meat laden- pizza? The Italian beefs or better yet a combo? The gyro stands everywhere?

    I guess there is a first for everything! 🙂 Enjoy!

  • Hi Adam,
    Nice blog. I’m an American living in Ireland with a veggie food blog and website for my cookery book. I’ll put you on my links, do you want to do the same here? Slan, Mary

  • i do believe that things come in threes- so go for it. and eyecandy always helps to bring out the full flavour of the food.

    (i am vegetarian and found some really good spots in the neighbourhoods surrounding the city)

  • @Jul: I’m really only interested in vegetarian food as a part of my otherwise unwell balanced diet. Remember I love something that’s not really good for me considering sugar content…

    @Yelli: I’m strange. I haven’t really been more than three or four blocks from my hotel, save for meetings and the Art Institute. Most of my “free” time has been spent at the Caribou Coffee on Broadway.

    @Mary: I’ve subscribed to your blog in my Feed Reader–but adding you to my links takes longer. I will read a blog for awhile before I add it to my blog list.

    @dave.: I ended up going else where for dinner my last night, and although its a diner, they don’t do breakfast. Sadly.

  • koko

    I agree with your statement about roots. The company is much better than the food. I can’t wait to see you again 🙂 <3