While in Chicago over the weekend, I decided to stop by a vegetarian restaurant called The Chicago Diner and try some of their food. There are many vegetarian restaurants in the Chicago area; however, I decided to stop by this particular one due to the overwhelmingly positive Google, Yelp, and Facebook reviews.
As my partner and I walked into the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly host and were seated. Overall, the space felt somewhat small, laid-back, and cozy, with a simple and modern decor. What caught my eye were the metallic ceiling tiles which I found elegant and unique.
Appetizer– tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa as well as sweet potato fries.
Entree 1– truffle mushroom lentil loaf with greens beans and potatoes.
Entree 2– thai basil stir fry.
Along with our water, I ordered tomato juice which had a tangy, fresh, delicious taste. The tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa, along with the sweet potato fries were mouthwatering! The texture and flavor of the guacamole were just to my liking. Chips and salsa tasted homemade and the sweet potato fries had just the right amount of crisp to it. The potatoes and greens beans that came with m entree was flavorful with just the right amount of seasonings. Yumm!
Another aspect of The Chicago Diner that I liked was the variety in music that played the whole time I was there. From “Head over Feet” by Alanis Morissette to “Big Poppa” by The Notorious B.I.G and everything in-between, I enjoyed the variation of indie, rap, and pop music, and other genres of music that were played.
Though my partner and I loved our appetizers, we unfortunately couldn’t say the same for our entrees. My ruffle mushroom lentil loaf had a heavy texture with tough small pieces of lentils in it which I found distasteful. The loaf also lacked flavor and so did the gravy that was put on top. My partner’s thai basil stir fry, which he requested to be spicy, was far from spicy and actually had a sweet, sugary flavor to it. We were confused as to why the stir fry tasted sweet instead of spicy, so we asked our waiter and he said it was prepared that way to accommodate everyone since they’d had incidences of people complain of too much peppery flavor at times. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish my ruffle mushroom lentil loaf while I watched my partner force himself to finish his thai basil stir fry.
Overall, I found the atmosphere (especially the music), our waiter, drinks, and appetizers very pleasant with the exception of the main entrees my partner and I ordered. Also, I saw on the menu that The Chicago Diner’s vegetarian substitute for steak/ beef and chicken is seatin, which I know from research is just purely gluten and can negatively affect the increasing number of people with gluten sensitivity and those suffering from celiac disease. Pre-made or restaurant seatin are also highly processed and very high in sodium making it a no no for those with high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems.
Fortunately, our orders did not contain seitan, but their “wings,” “burgers,” “steak/ beef,” and “chicken” items are all made with seitan. Unfortunately, due to myself and my partner’s disappointment with the taste of the entrees and the overwhelming use of seatin at The Chicago Diner, we will not return.