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NOVEMBER 24, 2007 1:14 PM

"Conscious Comfort Food" on North Wells in Chicago
This Thanksgiving holiday, we've been stringing together carbo-comas like Notre Dame losses to U.S. military academies. Our latest flirtation with food-induced flat-lining was at the celebrated Karyn's Cooked, a vegan "comfort food" restaurant in Chicago's North Loop.

Casual "Come-As-You-Are" Ambience
Karyn Calabrese, the owner of this warm and welcoming establishment, is famous in Chicago for her nutritional consultancy, yoga studio, and raw food restaurant, Karyn's Raw Gourmet (click here for a glowing review). Lucky for us, however, her husband is a reluctant health nut, and so she's still in the practice of producing stealthily healthful simulacra of all of his artery-clogging traditional favorites.

Whoever Said "Let Them Eat Cake" Sure Wasn't Kidding
Our table was adjacent to this tantalizing array of vegan desserts, a number of which were 100% raw. Before we had even ordered appetizers, Moles was already contemplating a slice of the chocolate silk pie.

Dessert, however, was an awfully long way off. We started with a trio of appetizers: a basket of tofu, broccoli, and mushrooms lightly dusted in cornmeal and coconut and then fried; grande taco salad with spicy tvp, guacamole and homemade soy cheese; and Thai satay skewers with peanut sauce.

Next came a soup course of cream of broccoli with cornbread.

Steak Sandwiches, Barbecued Ribs, and Flautas! Oh My!
The restaurant promotes this fare as "conscious comfort food," but we all agreed that the "comfort" far outweighs the "conscious." Pictured below are the thinly-sliced tofu/seitan steak sandwich with onions, peppers, romaine lettuce and chipotle sauce on a toasted demi multi-grain baguette, the BBQ ribs with corn on the cob and cole slaw, and a Flauta special featuring tofu-carrot filling, guacamole, and pico de gallo.

We love it when a plan comes together.
Remember that business about the chocolate silk pie? Moles got her wish, and I got mine: a piece of Coconut Cake that measured six inches across. We're already looking forward to our next trip to Chicago!