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Prasino (restaurant review): Sustainability Beyond an Organic Menu

May 20, 2011

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m into eco-friendliness and sustainability. Actually, even if you don’t know me well, you could have probably guessed (if you read this blog) that I fancy saving the earth from corrupting corporations and industrializing the food system.

So, to get me to like any restaurant or establishment, I have to be entirely convinced that the owners – hopefully family-oriented, sustainably-driven (as opposed to profit-driven) kinda people – have done their utmost to make sure their business is serving the public as much as it is generating revenue. There is nothing I devalue more than a restaurant that sells cheaply made – yet grossly marked up – food, or one that is unnecessarily wasteful in its practices. That’s why I can never justify paying $20+ on a plate of meat that is not grass-fed, pasture-raised and organic.

A friend from NY was coming to visit and we wanted to take her to a chic place with (at least) some of the specifications outlined above. We were really glad when our friend Iriny recommended this place Prasino that she had tried recently with her co-workers. The name, Prasino, which means ‘green’ in Greek, fits both the philosophy of the restaurant and its practices. I had browsed the website and was really impressed with all the steps taken by the owners to make sure the restaurant is as sustainable as possible.

Here are some of the things that totally won me over:

  • Organic, local food: Prasino partnered with Goodness Greeness, the premier source of organic foods in the Midwest. A lot of it seasonal, much of it local, and all of it organic. A restaurant with all organic food is almost unheard of – and very impressive.
  • All-natural meats and sustainably-sourced (wild-caught) seafood: Prasino partnered with Niman Ranch to provide sustainable and healthy meats that come from livestock that are humanely raised, locally sourced (as much as possible), never given antibiotics, never given hormones, and are fed completely vegetarian diets.
  •  Organic eggs: I’ll have to come here for brunch because all their eggs are certified organic.
  • Locally-brewed organic kombucha: My favorite new drink. Thrive Kombucha is a small-batch, locally-brewed tea beverage company that uses only wild-harvested and certified organic ingredients. There were also all kinds of tasty (and organic) smoothies on the menu.
  • Pure, filtered water: Water filtered by the Natura System – an environmentally-friendly system alternative to the waste associated with conventional bottled water.
  • Awesome ‘recycled’ light fixtures and hardwood floors: The ‘scrap lights’ as they’re called (pictured below) tell a story of a journey from being dull, discarded cardboard boxes to becoming stunning, unique light fixtures. Handmade in Seattle by a company called Gray Pants. Tabletops and floors incorporate reclaimed (locally-sourced) wood.
  • Beautiful ambiance: The decor is clean, bright, airy and fun. Neutral colors, earthy tones – just the way I like ’em. Oh, and there’s outside seating – sometimes I choose a restaurant exclusively based on that feature.
  • Well-priced!!! : You’d think that with all these cool sustainable practices and organic food, the prices would be through the roof. Not at all – it was cheaper or the same price as a regular restaurant with appetizers in the $7-$14 range and entrées in the $14-$30 range. And so many options!

I had a hard time picking drinks but went with a Kombucha-Mosa – Micro-brewed kombucha, fresh-squeezed orange juice – with muddled basil & agave nectar, which was delicious!

Sherif got an organic beer, of which I (naturally) took a few sips. Yum.

For appetizers, we all shared Crimini Mushroom Bruschetta (Sea salt crostini, tomato vierge, fresh basil, parmesan, truffle), PEI Mussels (White wine, garlic, sea salt, chili butter, cilantro, crostini), and Line Caught Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartar (Firecracker sauce, chive, tobiko, sesame cracker). They were all really delicious – my favorite was probably the mussels. Love quality seafood.

Crimini Mushroom Bruschetta

PEI Mussels

Line Caught Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartar

For the entrée, I ordered the Roasted Half Amish Chicken (Truffle honey, roasted beets, sauteed greens, onion jus) and Sherif got the Braised Lamb Shank (Pappardelle pasta, tomato, feta, herb bread crumbs, ancho lamb sauce). Our friend Chris-Mary got the  Roasted Beet Salad (Roasted beets, mixed greens, crumbled goat cheese, sweet & spicy pecans, orange segments, balsamic syrup, orange basil vinaigrette). The lamb was super tender and flavorful and the chicken was tangy and interesting – came with roasted beets too, and I love those!

Roasted Half Amish Chicken

Braised Lamb Shank

Roasted Beet Salad

We were all super stuffed, but we just had to taste their organic molten chocolate cake with fresh strawberries and organic vanilla ice cream. Heavenly.

Organic Molten Chocolate Cake

To say that we were impressed is an understatement. We will for sure be making it a habit to grab dinner or brunch at Prasino – quite possibly my favorite restaurant thus far (bold, true claim).

In case you’re wondering, this review was written of my own volition and without endorsement or compensation. Yes, I liked it that much that I spent close to two hours editing pics and writing this post to promote this fine and sustainable establishment.

One of my favorite pieces of decor – which I found really nifty and creative – are the ‘scrap lights’ … check out how intricately they’re made:

If you’re in or around Chicago (well, this one’s located it La Grange, a cute old Midwestern town), hit up Prasino!! And I can’t wait for the grand opening of the location downtown, hopefully later this summer.

Au Prasino: Eat Green, Live Well. :)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2011 2:23 PM

    Heba – this sounds scrumptious!!!! Maybe the hubby and I will check it out on our next date night. I hope you don’t mind, but I linked to this review from our soon-to-be-launched new WAPF Chicago website under restaurants. Your review and photos are spectacular!

    • May 23, 2011 9:48 PM

      Yes Mindi it was great – I highly recommend it! ;) I definitely don’t mind if you include it on the WAPF Chicago website – that’s an honor :) Thanks for your comment!

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