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Green Zebra Opening


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Um, I could very well be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time)... But maybe I'm misunderstanding the questions...
It was I, that was wrong (and it's not the first first time :wacko: ). Modified the previous post.
Yellow Truffle certainly seems like more a regular then me.....
VeryApe77, you are such the diplomat. :wink:
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i am so torn...i don't eat meat but i do eat fish...i've got one night in chicago in august - spring or green zebra? is spring's menu also a sampling menu?

the review makes GZ sound so good - but Tarka's description of Spring had me sold there. what about ambiance - how are they different?

thanks all! i wish i had more time in chicago - i'd drag some of you out!

i would recommend green zebra over spring at the moment....the atmosphere is similar but green zebra is a wee bit buzzier. the service is ever so slightly better at spring, but the small plates format edges it for me. we had a table of four and ordered 11 dishes, the kitchen sent out a couple of extras and we had a dessert and cheese. i came away feeling like i really, really know what the kitchen can do. not a single dud dish, but they are victims of there own sucess in that things that would be great anywhere else just keep getting bested by other dishes. like there was this aged gruyere souffle that was just perfect. cheesy light as air perfect. but then you try the carrots with truffles that they brought at the same time and you start plotting to stab the rest of your dining companions to death so you don't have to share it.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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We had a wonderful dinner at GZ a month or so ago. We were with two others, one of whom is a vegan. Many great choices for her. We ordered two dishes per person per course, so were were able to sample a lot of things. Wonderfully inventive, and we didn't miss not having meat at all!

Edited by gmi3804 (log)
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We had a fantastic dinner last night at GZ. Almost everything we ordered was spectacular. Here is a brief run-down of the items we tried...

First, we were served 4 amuses...spicy-roasted peanuts, edamame, Indian-Spiced popcorn and pickled wax beans. Very nice stuff, beautifully presented and our tastebuds were suitably awakened.

Avocado Panna Cotta, with tomato gelee, creme fraiche and sweet corn chips.

--This was among my favorite dishes of the night. It was so tasty and all the components worked together in perfect unison. Lot's of 'oohs and ahhs' as this got passed around. I was stunned and pleased by the bright green color of the panna cotta--how did they do that? :smile:

Chilled Cauliflower Soup, with baby mustard greens, creme fraiche and Osetra caviar.

--Another great dish; smooth, rich, tart and wonderful.

Fresh Hawaiian Heart of Palm, with kaffir lime, thai basil and chile.

--Very nice but my least favorite of all the dishes. Fresh heart of palm cut into julienne strips and positioned on the plate, beautifully, like a flower. This was very good but it was trumped by the other dishes on the table at the time.

Cave-Aged Gruyere Cheese Souffle, endive, verjus and Seedling Orchards apricots.

--Awesome, inspired and truly delicious. The salad served on the side provided a great contrast to the richness of the souffle.

Pleasant Hill Farm Baby Carrots, carrot cake, black truffles and aged balsamic vinegar.

--Amazing dish...as we were seated, we could smell the truffles in this dish, as it was being served at the table next to us. :shock: The perfect combination of flavors here was new ground for me.

Braised Chicken, with cannelini beans, haricot vert, roasted red peppers and sage.

--A great little stew/soup. This was the one 'meat' selection we tried and the fresh sage really made the dish. Again, a great combination of ingredients.

Prospera Farms Chicken Egg, spinach puree, lentils & country sourdough.

--Probably my favorite dish overall. The soft-cooked egg was served on bed of intensely flavorful spinach puree. Around that lay another ring, of lentil puree dotted with whole-cooked lentils. The generous plank of country sourdough was toasted, buttery and delicious and it had a hole cut into its center so that the egg could fit perfectly through it. Wow!

Grilled Wild Mushrooms, silky white corn polenta and herb emulsion.

--another great dish that really satisfied. Lovely combination of flavors and the herbed emulsion tied it all together.

Nonna Zanella's Potato Gnocchi, with garlic scrapes and shaved Reggiano parmesan.

--Fantastically light gnocchi. The garlic scrapes and shavings of Reggiano took this dish to unforeseen levels...deeply satisfying, delicious and comforting.

We had a few wines with our meal. The first, courtesy of guajolote, who brought this from home for us, was a 1990 Pol Roger Rose that was amazing. We also ordered a bottle '99 Gigondas, Montirius Rhone that was very good.

With desserts, which I will list below, we enjoyed glasses of '01 Knoll Riesling BA, Wahcau Austria and '01 Mission Hill Eiswein, BC, Canada.

Desserts were quite wonderful and I agree with the Chicago Tribune review by Phil Vettel (linked above) that the ice creams at Green Zebra are outstanding. We sampled the following...

Tastings of ice creams.

--4 flavors...carrot cake (my fave), tarragon, hot chocolate and black raspberry.

Spiced ginger Baba cake, roasted banana ice cream and fresh coconut.

--Fantastic ice cream, delicious cake, judiciously-applied coconut all combined to make this a great one.

Artisanal Cheeses.

--served with planks of toasted raisin (or was it date?) bread and roasted almonds. We tried one of each of the cheeses (all American-made) and we were told that we were the first party to try them all :shock: :

Velvet Rose, Jersey cow, Sweet Grass Dairy - GA

Canasta Pardo, sheep, Bass Lake Cheese Factory - WI

Sally Jackson Grape-leaf wrapped Goat, Organic, raw - Oroville, WA

Benedictine, cow, sheep & goat blend, Carr Valley Cheese - WI

Weston Tomme, raw sheep, Woodcock Farm - VT

Gabriel, goat, Bittersweet Plantation Dairy - LA

Golden Ridge Blue, organic cow, Golden Ridge Cheese Co-op - IA

Colorouge, cow, MouCo Cheese Company - Fort Collins, CO

I really loved Green Zebra. I'd go back there without hesitation. Not only was the food out of this world, but the service was excellent. The room itself is stylish and comfortable. I think this place is going to be a huge hit and it won't be too long before getting a table at Green Zebra will be a difficult thing to do.

Green Zebra

1460 W. Chicago Avenue

Chicago, IL

(312) 243-7100

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Also Shawn McClain will be at Field's Culinary Studio in Chicago on Wed Oct 6th from 6-8pm putting on a demonstration.

To quote from the Studio's mailer:

Celebrate fall's delicious flavors and late harvest vegetables with a tasting of small bites inspired by the chef's menu at his newest restaurant, The Green Zebra.

$65

call 800.265.2665 to reserve.

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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From Mr. Bittman's article, linked above...

But a new restaurant, Green Zebra, offers what amounts to four-star vegetarian food almost exclusively. In business since April, it is not in New York or San Francisco but in Chicago, a city best known for its steak houses and hot dogs (which are piled so high with pickles, lettuce and tomatoes that everyone jokes that they are the citizenry's primary source of vegetables).

Green Zebra is wowing vegans, vegetarians and even omnivores with dishes like avocado panna cotta with tomatoes, a silky-smooth concoction with the tomatoes' acidity providing a welcome punch. Then there's the poached egg on a bed of well-seasoned lentils and garlicky spinach purée, with a crisp piece of sourdough toast, a luxurious dish made with simple ingredients. Or maybe roast shiitakes rolled with cabbage and potatoes, pan-fried and topped with a butter emulsion — the ultimate egg roll.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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But that farmland doesn't produce much come November, and it remains to be seen how Green Zebra will stack up against the city's steakhouses when the wind starts to blow. Featuring "vegetables harvested at their peak" will not be easy.

Asked about his fall menu, Mr. McClain said: "I said I wanted a challenge. We're going to come up with some great stuff, and it's going to be real fun."

This brings up an interesting point. Possibly more imported ingredients. Sounds like it will be fun, indeed.

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  • 2 months later...

A story about current vegetarian trends, which appeared in today's on-line version of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, includes some very favorable comments about Green Zebra...

Green Zebra, a shiny new upscale restaurant in Chicago, specializes in what chef de cuisine Michael Bulkowski calls "modern vegetable-focused cuisine."

The idea is to celebrate local vegetables and produce and to use them to "modernize and update classic dishes," he said.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Has anybody been to Green Zebra since the weather has changed and the local produce has become less appealing? As has been noted above with the coming of fall, local vegetables will diminish.

I was thinking of goiing in late November, after Thanksgiving, when I will visit Chicago. My family has one veggie and one veggie fellow traveler and this might keep them happy. Any updated reports?

I could imagine lots of winter root vegetables, roasted, pureed, and sauted. There are only so many ways of making brussels sprouts appealing. What else will be appearing in the local larder?

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Has anybody been to Green Zebra since the weather has changed and the local produce has become less appealing?  As has been noted above with the coming of fall, local vegetables will diminish. 

I was thinking of goiing in late November, after Thanksgiving, when I will visit Chicago.  My family has one veggie and one veggie fellow traveler and this might keep them happy.  Any updated reports? 

I could imagine lots of winter root vegetables, roasted, pureed, and sauted.  There are only so many ways of making brussels sprouts appealing.  What else will be appearing in the local larder?

Great question and no, I haven't been back. But I agree that it's interesting to think about what kinds of things they'll be turning out at GZ as the seasons cycle. I hope to get back there sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year's and give it another try. There are some days I still think about the meal I had there. It was just that memorable.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a reservation at Green Zebra in a couple of weeks and I have a few questions for those who have been there. How are the portion sizes? For two people should we order 6 dishes? 8? More? Is there anything that's so incredibly tasty we should order two so that we don't have to share? How does wine pair with the food, should I try to pair different by-the-glass selections with different courses, or try to find a bottle that goes with everything? And my other big question - is on-street parking available nearby? Thanks, and I promise I'll give a full report after I've been.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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We're taking friends from NY to Green Zebra on Friday.  I'll be interested to see if they live up to the challenge of Fall Vegetables!  I have confidence they'll do just fine.  Report to follow.

I thought I'd check in and report that we didn't end up going to GZ last Friday - our friends ended up in the north suburbs, so it just wasn't convenient.

As for portion sizes, most small dishes are sized as smallish appetizers, while the larger dishes are smallish entree-sized. Three small/large dishes per person should be sufficient. I think four people at a table is ideal - you should be able to sample a good dozen (or more) things from the menu without things getting too complicated.

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4 of us went there and ordered 3 dishes each, plus dessert. 2 of us are big guys and we were pleasantly full at the end of the meal. I probably could have managed one more dish but that would have been pushing it.

Please let us know about your experience there. I'd love to hear about their current menu.

BTW, Green Zebra was named to Travel + Leisure Magazine's list of the "Best New American Restaurants 2004."

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

My husband and I went to Green Zebra last Friday, and had a wonderful experience. We were visiting his parents in the Chicago area, and when we're visiting we like to take advantage of the free babysitting to go to the kinds of restaurants to which one can't bring a 2-year old. I chose Green Zebra for this trip because my husband is a vegetarian and often has trouble finding enjoyable high-end restaurant meals. And of course because of all the wonderful things people said about it here and in the press. We were not disappointed.

We started dinner with a signature "Green Zebra" cocktail each - it was tasty, sweet and green, with rum, a blue raspberry liqueur, and pineapple juice. With the cocktails came a little tray with edamame, popcorn with garam masala, peanuts with five-spice powder, and one other thing that I don't remember (Dang it! I should've taken notes.) Then began the complex menu negotiations ("Well, I think this sounds good. But if you get this, then I'll have to get this.") We finally figured out what we were ordering, and also asked our server to recommend a white wine under $50. This was a great wine list, nearly everything was under $50 and lots of unusual bottles. Our request resulted in a bottle of '01 Roero Arneis, Bruno Giacosa, which was dry with a very unusual nutty flavor, almost like a Sherry. It paired great with the food.

For the first course, I chose beet salad with mascarpone, and my husband chose cabbage soup. The beets were good - I love beets - and the mascarpone and vinegar were good flavors. In the aforementioned menu negotiations, I had been dubious about cabbage soup, trying to nudge my husband to get the avocado panna cotta instead. The soup turned out to be the standout dish of the evening. A great flavor, rich and deep, sort of like a great French onion soup, but with no meat stock. I have to admit, it didn't really taste like cabbage to me, but to me that's a good thing.

My second course was a Gruyere souffle, and my husband's was a sweet corn ravioli. (Sweet corn showed up a couple of times on the menu, which kind of surprised me, with their emphasis on local produce. I don't think they're getting Illinois corn in November.) The souffle was excellent, light and airy. The combination of the souffle with the wine gave the flavor of cheese fondue. The ravioli didn't do much for me.

The third course was grilled wild mushrooms on polenta for me, and a duck egg for my husband. I didn't try the egg, because it was gooey and I was afraid of making a mess. My husband said it was good. It was presented poking through a hole cut in a piece of toast, with a green sauce underneath. The mushrooms were another terrific dish, lots of dark woodsy flavor and a great texture.

For dessert I went with a creme brulee tasting, which had three different creme brulees, lavender, jasmine tea, and Japanese yuzu. The lavender and jasmine tea had a very subtle flavoring (as in, if I hadn't been told what they were, I wouldn't have guessed) and the Japanese yuzu was a very bright acidic flavor. My husband had a layered chocolate mousse thing, and it was very good. I also had a glass of sparkling wine with dessert.

All in all, the experience was great. Our server was very nice and the service was good. I have only one tiny quibble with the restaurant - we were seated in a sort of large booth that contained two, two-person tables, one in each corner. This layout meant that it was very difficult not to overhear the couple next to us, who happened to be on a blind date. It's kind of a weird layout. But on the whole, I'd go back in a second - too bad I live hundreds of miles away. It's definitely on the list for the next time we're in Chicago.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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Thanks for the report, munchymom. I'm curious about the corn too, but just from your post, I can begin to see how the menu has morphed with the change of season. Thanks again :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a wonderful meal at Green Zebra last night with 2 friends.

Together we shared the following:

Seasonal Salads: moonglow pear & red onion; lemon & arugula; fennel, apple & olive 14

Avocado Panna Cotta, with tomato gelee, crème fraiche and sweet corn chips 9

Chilled Kinnikinnick Farms Beets, with mascarpone and port wine vinaigrette 9

Celery Root Soup, with truffle essence 9

Prospera Farms Baby Carrots, carrot cake, black truffles and aged balsamic vinegar 10

Okinawan Sweet Potato Dumplings, fresh water chestnuts and star anise broth 9

Greengold Farms Chicken Egg, spinach puree, lentils & country sourdough 8

Oregon Chanterelle Mushroom Gallette, Nichols Farms baby shallots and sweet corn 14

Lake Erie Walleye with smoked potatoes and saffron-tomato broth 13

dessert

Tasting of Creme Brulees, jasmine green tea, Japanese yuzu and lavender 7

Spiced Ginger Baba Cake, roasted banana ice cream and fresh coconut 7

Tastings of ice creams: carrot cake, tarragon, hot chocolate and cranberry-orange 6

Wine

02 Fiano di Avelino, Di Prisco, Campagnia, Italy 44

01 “Frederick”, Spring Valley Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, Washington 37

(half bottle)

Outstanding dishes:

pear and red onion salad--a sparkling seasonal dish

Avocado panna cotta--lived up to the hype! a smooth guacamole

baby carrots--i want to make these at home

Sweet potato dumplings--i'm still dreaming of these--a big portion

of them on a cold winter day would be a perfect meal. The star

anise broth provides an unexpected Asian (Japanese-like) flavor.

Chicken Egg--another dish I want to make at home

Slight misses:

Too much truffle oil in the soup, all you tasted was the oil

Walleye--to me, forgettable, tho friends liked it.

The desserts were good but not memorable.

The Fiano was a particularly good match for the food. Both wines were the waitress's recommendations--we were pretty puzzled with what to order and left it up to her--she turned out to be quite capable.

I didn't particularly like the atmosphere--I found it a bit casual and yet a bit cold, and not at all a special occasion vibe, like Spring is. The food way outdoes the setting, which is generally fine with me-- but I think jeans more so than skirts fit in here.

If I could make veg food like this, I'd eat like a veg all the time!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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  • 5 months later...

I was fortunate enough to dine at Green Zebra last weekend, and I must say I quite enjoyed myself. The occasion was a college graduation of a family friend whose family picked out the restaurant. as soon as I was informed that we'd be eating at Green Zebra I looked up the menu, decided what I'd order, and basically did all the research I could. But when we arrived at our friend's house pre-meal I learned that our group would be too large for the GZ kitchen to accommodate, and thus we would be dining in a private room upstairs from the main dining room, but our food would be prepared at Spring, Chef McClain's other restaurant. Anyway, the meal wasn't vegetable based as I had expected, but included dishes of Short Rib Tortellini (delish) and Roasted venison (cooked to perfection). Our server, also the sommelier I believe, was very kind and informative, though she had trouble getting the attention of our entire group before explaining dishes.

I would certainly love to go back and see what the GZ kitchen has to offer sometime, from what I've seen so far it will most likely be impressive.

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  • 1 year later...

On a recent trip to Chicago, we needed a place last minute to treat our hosts. The hosts are two college students who were nice enough to allow us to stay with them. Ok, so one of them is my wife's cousine but still, it was very nice of them :smile:. Frontera is what we were thinking but after being told that we had to wait for 2.5 hours for a table we decided to try something else.

Green Zebra came to mind because I remembered reading about it around here somewhere but had no idea what kind of place to expect. We checked the website and honestly both myself and the cousin were a bit turned off by the 'mostly vegetarian' description of the restaurant's style. He calims he is a big steak lover and me, well I love some good animal protein a few times a day.

With only a 45 minute wait and a menu that looked promising and my constant reminder to him 'trust me...this place will not just grill a mushroom and serve it on a bed of lettuce and call it dinner', we headed to Green Zebra. Figured at least it is something different.

We were all in for a very big and pleasnat surprise. Dinner at GZ was one of the most pleasurable dinner experiences I've had. The food was outstanding, finely tuned, beautiful to look at and utterly delicious. For the four of us we ended up eating about 15 different dishes and not a single dud on the list!

Service both at the bar while we waited and had some drinks and at the table was perfect. A little casual and very efficient.

on to some pics that are sadly lacking on this thread

gallery_5404_94_336934.jpg

-Buratta (sp?) cheese, Meyer Lemon gelee...

-Apple Thyme Soup...this was so popular we were almost thinking about ordering another one

gallery_5404_94_371699.jpg

Clockwise from the bottom:

- Sunchoke raviolis, hazelnuts, goat cheese sauce

- Eggplant dumplings

- Fried chickpea patie. This was very good but in the grand scheme of things, my least favorite. Probably because it tasted too much like a falafel patie that was not cooked enough.

- Sauteed rice noodles with bokchoy and fennel. Not sure how the Chef makes such a simple thing taste so good, but the noodles were the most perfect of their ilk that I've ever had. None of that too slimy texture, instead they were a bit chewy and a bit rough and held on to the sauce perfectly.

gallery_5404_94_117373.jpg

- Salmon with flageolets. The only non veggie item on the whole menu and like everything else it was cooked perfectly with crispy skin and moist sweet flesh. The beans had a very nice texture to them as well

- Turnip risotto cakes with hedgehog mushrooms.

gallery_5404_94_179771.jpg

We ordered this beauty after seeing a server drop it off at a neighboring table. It is Shiitake Muchrooms and Napa cabbage wrapped in potato and served with and herb foam (I think it was an herb foam). There were four of us and five pieces...so there was some arguing as to who deserves the last piece. Since it was my idea to come here and my idea to order this I got it :smile:.

On to desserts

gallery_5404_94_103259.jpg

The best of the four we ordered and mine...a Meyer Lemon parfait with a grapefruit sorbet and cream. Absolutly heavenly.

gallery_5404_94_173896.jpg

Honestly I am not sure what that was but it was good

gallery_5404_94_356033.jpg

Front: Chocolate Pave, with breaded fried bananas. the combo of hot and cold, choco and banana is classic and perfect.

Back: Apple Butter Beignets, riesling reduction, caramel thyme ice cream. Most everyone thought this was good but a bit too sweet...so I really had to polish it up. There is no such thing as too sweet!

Our hosts by the end of the night were very glad we 'found' this place for them so that they can head there whenever they want. As for my wife and I, well it totally proved that a vegeatrian meal can be an excellent fine dining option. I'll still avoid those joints that somehow stick tofu in everything and make a salad of everything else and call it vegetarian. If a place like Green Zebra ever opens up in my neck of the woods (Houston), I'd love to give it a shot.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Great stuff, Elie! Thanks for taking the time to upload the images. Your report makes one thing perfectly clear: it's been far too long since my last visit to Green Zebra. :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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