I recently went to Karyn's Raw in Chicago for lunch with my husband and 4 year old son.... I wanted to write a little about the experience. I was going to separate the good and bad, but i found that very hard to do, so i'm just lumping it all together for you.
GOOD -- Karyn's had it's own parking lot, which was nice. It was also nice that the restaurant had a store front attached to it where you could by pre-packaged raw meals to go along with tons of other raw goodies - including their yummy blueberry ice cream. So, I walked in the front door of the restaurant. Right away, they had 3 nice dinners/lunches laid out on the counter for you to view. Very nice presentation and everything looked very nice. The restaurant itself was very small but not cozy at all. The very, very, very, very unfriendly (moreso, outright rude!) waiter seated us and gave us such horrible looks as if we did not belong in "his" establishment. I didn't realize there was an age limit on raw foods, but if my 4 year old will eat it, i'm going to indulge him in the experience. I did not appreciate the rude glares from him or the snide remarks about me not realize this was all raw! Ugh. Anyway, we were then given some really, really disgusting water. I'm not sure if this was public water or if they do something to it themselves but it tasted like fish and really did ruin our meals. We weren't even offered an alternative to tap water. He just came and plunked it down in front of us and walked away. About 20 minutes later, our orders were taken. We started off with the Nacho's. They were very, very good and I wished i had had them for my actual meal. My husband really liked the Nacho's too - but, gave me all of his olives :) I thought it was a great dish and a lovely presentation. My husband and son both had the Pizza and I had the Pad Thai. I had debated between the Pad Thai and the Falafel, but my love for Thai food won out. The Pizza was very interesting. I can't say the presentation on this was nice, but it wasn't horrible. The Pizza was a shell of some sort (seemed similar to their bread) and then was topped with red sauce and a mascarpone cheese sauce (which had an asterik next to it,but didn't say what it meant... i'm not sure if that part was raw or not) and then topped with some sort of garlic marinated spinach. I thought it was a very nice flavor combination and my son actually liked it - after initially protesting that he wasn't going to eat it. My Pad Thai looked very nice. The jungle peanut sauce was very nice. The pad thai was a little spicier than i would've liked, but the flavors were very good. The portions were not large. We were not given the choice of dessert, even though others around us were. Very rude. About 20 minutes later, were finally given our check. 20 minutes later, he took my credit card up and rang us out. The dining experience took over 2 hours of our time. This should've been a max. of 1 hour from start to finish... in my opinion. The extremely rude and obnoxious waiter and the fishy water ruined the experience for us. I'm glad the food was good....
Then, i headed next door to their store. I browsed quickly since we were already a 1/2 hour late now.... I didn't get all that i need and was very rushed. I had questions and the equally rude staff in the store was of absolutely no use to me. I honestly could not believe that the staff here was this rude. I mean, i've never met a raw vegan who was rude or obnoxious. I grew up right near NYC and everyone talks about New Yorkers being rude, but compared to this, New Yorkers are sweet as pie! Ugh! Anyway, I ended up getting a BLT to go and an Egg Salad Sandwich to go. I got a scoop of ice cream and a lemon tarte bar. The BLT was ok. I wouldn't get it again, but it was worth it just to try a BLT. The Egg Salad was wonderful! I wish i had gotten a tub of it to go instead of just a sandwich. The store was great b/c everything was raw and i felt right at home. It's hard going into a regular health food store and trying to locate the raw items... not many near me anyway! But, this was great because everything was raw and I knew i could eat it all :) There were so many things i wanted to get here and the staff really put me off and made me just want to get out of there. I forgot to get their Blueberry Muffins and Breadsticks. They looked really good.
My husband keeps pushing me to get certified and open my own raw restaurant/store and after this, i can see why he would want me to. Overall, i thought the experience was worth it just to go and do it. Oh, on a side note, they only use organic when they can.... kinda pricey for in-organic produce!
I wanted to email Karyn herself to let her know this, but her staff answers the email, not her (if there even is a "her"). Anyway, I hope this helps out someone else who is hoping to try raw foods in Chicago. My suggestion is go to the Chicago Diner or Borrowed Earth Cafe and have lunch/dinner there and then shop at Karyn's. The Chicago Diner serves raw specials everyday and also has cooked vegan food. I should've gone there instead... oh well... next trip :)
Soooo disappointing to hear. I work in the service industry and understand that sometimes if you haven't worked in a restaurant before you can misread a servers intentions. But if you you truly have had a terrible experience than put this up on yelp and I guarantee you that the management will read it and consider your critique.
When I when there the service was good but I felt nautious for a full 24 hours afterwards.
Sypita - I worked in the food industry as well... i had my share of "i'm too good for you" waiters.... but, this was just downright rude. Very disappointing! Thank goodness the food was good!
Zinfandel - did you drink the water?? I'm glad the service was good for you! I'm not sure if anyone ever watched Felicity, but the waiter that I had reminded me (in looks ONLY) of Javier - the eccentric coffee guy...
Again, i'm just glad the food was good. If it weren't for the Egg Salad, i wouldn't have enjoyed it at all :)
oh, and this probably sounds dumb, but what is Yelp? I think i heard it mentioned once or twice before, but i'm not familiar with it....
Oh yelp.com. check it out. it is pretty self explanatory just reviews and whatnot for different cities.
I think the crazy combos of nuts and sauces made me unsettled. It was definitely too rich for me.
I ate there in May and had a wonderful experience. I actually found the staff in the store to be very helpful to us. No problems at all in the fine dining either. I attended a lecture there and actually met Karyn. She is a beautiful person and made a point to meet and talk to every person at the lecture. To be honest, I wished I travelled to Chicago more often just to go there. That is just my experience.
Kleine - That is wonderful that you had a great experience there! I'm not sure if the waiter didn't like children or what... my son was exceptionally good in there! He gave the same rude routine to the guy sitting next to us - he was alone and in jeans and a t-shirt. I don't know if the guy thought that was too casual or what... but, everyone seemed to be dressed down! Sounds like you had a great time - I wish i had too! If i'm in Chicago again, I'd try it again just to see...
I could see where your coming from with the richness.... i've been raw for over 2 years and yeah, it was really heavy.
I'm from the Chicagoland area, and I have to say, something must be wrong with Karyn's water. Chicago water is pretty good. In no way should there be a fish smell. I haven't eaten there yet, but I'm not sure I want to now :)
Downtown waitstaff can get pretty rude. We try to avoid the city at all costs. What do they care if you have brought a child? They are soooo rude. I hate when people think they are better than you!
Just wanted to comment on Karyns. Ive eaten there on several occasions and have nothing but nice positive tings to say. I have on several occasions taken my 7 yr old nephew and have never had a problem. I too try and expose him to as much vegan/raw foods as possible since he doesn't get that at home. He loves it, especially the lasagna!!! I find the staff in general to be very nice & helpful. The store is great because of the wide selection of foods, breads, desserts, supplements, salad bar, juices you name it. Everything's Raw and delicious!!!! If Im not mistaken they infuse the water with cucumber which I happen to love....Im sorry to hear you had such a terrible 1st time but Id give them a second try, definitely worth it....Especially for Sunday Brunch, its a Prix Fix all you can eat but its a great way to sample almost everything on the menu...