This Friday was the start of the 14th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, which will last until the 4th of April with over 250 participating restaurants throughout Chicago and nearby suburbs that offer special prix fixe menus. Multi-course meals are $25 for brunch or lunch, and $39 and/or $55 for dinner.
For the first time, some restaurants also offer home delivery and takeout options. In the previous years, the most popular places were booked very fast. It is a good opportunity to get acquainted with the restaurants without spending a fortune.
Today was my first time at ALTHEA. Honestly, I did not know what to expect, nor did I know that it serves only plant-based food. It would not have scared me away anyway, but after visiting I DO recommend it to everyone. We ordered from their prix fixe lunch menu, where they have two offerings in each category, so we had all of them.
The meal starts with a warm mini orange flavored scone and greenish homemade plant butter. It was free and the most delicious course for my daughter :)
Grilled oyster and maitake mushrooms, served with pepita cream and avocado puree and garnished with toasted pepitas.
The soup is very creamy and velvety, a little bland, but all the garnishing, like tamari caramel, toasted cashews, and micro-greens, add the missing flavors and textures.
TAHINI ITALIAN SALAD
My favorite dish. It looks very plain and simple but has so many different textures and lots of flavor. I was surprised by the smoked chickpea provolone which tasted like salami; salt and vinegar cashews gave a unique tartness and crunchiness to the salad.
CHICKPEA SALAD SANDWICH
Chickpea salad with horseradish and garlic on a toasted rye bread reminded me of tuna sandwich.
For the 3rd course, they have two cold and very different treats. The Prosecco sorbet with crumbles of orange shortbread is very refreshing and not sweet at all compared to the Tahini ice cream with sesame brittle, which despite its sweetness, was my second favorite dish of the meal. I liked the creaminess of ground sesame seeds and contrasting crunchiness of black sesame seeds.
While you wait for your food you can take a look inside of the chef's book
Going down on an escalator I have spotted a very interesting chandelier and would like to find out more about it...
There are few places where I would like to return, but ALTHEA is definitely one of them. The innovative, tasteful and beautiful plant cuisine that is often based on the different variations of classic dishes curated by the chef, plant-based pioneer, Matthew Kenney, really impressed me.
The restaurant is located at 700 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60611., on the 7th floor of Saks Fifth Ave Store.