Wednesday, October 8

Food For LYFE

LYFE Kitchen Menu
I had been meaning to check out LYFE Kitchen in River North for quite some time so when a fellow Chicago food blogger Christina of Chritiques suggested we check it out, it was a no brainer. Christina and I stopped by on a Monday night post-yoga (food bloggers have to work out a lot people!) and the restaurant was bustling with patrons. We were introduced to the menu by manager Pamela Savell who walked us through the restaurant's concept. LYFE Kitchen offers a variety of menus, including a gluten-free menu, and vegan and vegetarian menus, and was started by two former McDonald's execs. The name LYFE in LYFE Kitchen stands for "Love Your Food Everyday," and every item on the menu is less than 600 calories. The restaurant started in California, and has locations in Colorado, Nevada, and Texas. The two Illinois outposts are in Chicago and Evanston.

The restaurant prides itself on offering quality food made from local, sustainable and organic ingredients whenever possible. They even grow their own herbs in the restaurant!

Fresh Herbs
Fresh Herbs
Christina and I took a seat at the counter overlooking the kitchen so we could catch all the action. While we waited for our food, we filled up on some sparkling water (they have a pretty cool water dispenser...it's the little things!)

Water Dispenser
We were able to sample some of the most popular dishes from each section of the menu.

Some of our food spread
First up were all four varieties of LYFE waters: orange ginger chia, cucumber mint, ginger mint chia, and hibiscus beet. My favorite was the orange ginger chia because it tasted like a better version of OJ and has soft bits of chia seeds throughout.

LYFE Waters
Next, we tried a few starters including the chunky guac 'n chips, and the edamame hummus and veggies. I didn't think the guac was anything special, but I did like how they served it with baked corn tortillas as chips. There also was a nice dusting of spices on the chips. The edamame hummus on the other hand was fantastic. It was served with fresh veggies, smoky paprika, and flax seed crisps. I thought the paprika added a nice kick.

Chunky Guac 'N Chips
Edamame Hummus & Veggies
We also tried some greens including a side marinated baby kale salad with carrots and fresh lemon juice, as well as the quinoa crunch bowl. The kale was simple and light, while the quinoa crunch bowl offered a healthy serving of fireman's hot sauce that I loved. It also included quinoa tabbouleh, crunchy veggies, avocado, arugula, edamame hummus, and chipotle vinaigrette.

Marinated Baby Carrot Salad
Quinoa Crunch Bowl
One of the other sides we tried were the sweet potato fries. They were baked instead of fried, and came with a side of agave ketchup. I appreciated the homemade ketchup but felt the fries were a tad soggy.

Sweet Potato Fries
Moving along to entrees, we tried an assortment of items including options suitable for meat lovers, vegetarians, and pescatarians. The one dish I heard I had to try at LYFE Kitchen was Art's Unfried Chicken, named after Chef Art Smith of Chicago's own Table Fifty-Two, and LYFE Kitchen's executive chef. The chicken was coated and baked, not fried, and served with the perfect seasonal veggie blend including roasted brussels sprouts, and butternut squash. Adding a flavor punch was the cashew cream and dijon vinaigrette. I LOVED this dish, especially the cashew cream. You felt like you were eating something way less healthy. I don't even like brussels sprouts and this dish made me love them.

Art's Unfried Chicken
We also tried the roasted salmon, tomato & fennel served with red onion, broccoli, and a tomato sauce. The dish was simply prepared but very flavorful.

Roasted Salmon, Tomato & Fennel
Lastly, we tried the Thai curry bowl with marinated tofu. This bowl featured broccoli, eggplant, peppers, peas, whole grain wheatberries, and Thai basil. I liked the curry flavors, but I probably wouldn't order this again.

Thai Curry Bowl
Our last two entrees (as if we weren't already bursting at the seams) were the BBQ chicken flatbread, and the fish tacos. The flatbread had a crispy and hearty crust and I liked the tangy bbq sauce. The fish tacos were one of Christina's favorites, but I felt the grilled mahi mahi had a pretty tough texture. I did think the portion of fish that came with the tacos was a great value.  The tacos were topped with chipotle slaw, avocado, cilantro, green onion, and chipotle aioli, with a side of salsa fresca. I appreciated the corn tortillas, but the single layer wasn't able to stand up to the taco's ingredients.

BBQ Chicken Flatbread
Fish Tacos
Lastly, I managed to save room for dessert and tried all three of LYFE Kitchen's dessert options, the chocolate budino, banana chia budino, and chocolate chip cookie. I was shocked to find out the cookie was only 150 calories because it tasted just as decadent as any other cookie. Also, the richness of the budino's were fantastic and they each clocked in between 210 and 240 calories.

Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Budino, Banana Chia Budino, Chocolate Chip Cookie
Overall, I was impressed with the sheer size of LYFE Kitchen's menu. There is absolutely something for everyone there, regardless of dietary restriction or preference. Christina is vegetarian and cannot eat soy, and they were able to accommodate her dietary preferences seamlessly. While some items are rather small in portion size (they have to be under 600 calories, after all), I felt the majority of menu items were filling, fresh, and flavorful. I will have to come back and try their breakfast menu!

Note: my meal at LYFE Kitchen was complimentary; however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

LYFE Kitchen
www.lyfekitchen.com
419 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
312.836.5933

1603 Orrington Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201
847.563.8242
Lyfe Kitchen on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

  1. Wonderful review of our meal, Amanda! Now I want to go back and do it all again!

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  2. I tried eating there but the salt content of everything is too high, that chicken you mention is at 840 mgs of salt, two-thirds of my daily limit and half what a regular person should be having in a day. I put it in the same category as Protein Bar, a place talking up health but ignoring the harm its high salt content can do to people's health.

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  3. I want to go back and try breakfast Christina! I'm hooked on those LYFE waters!

    John--right, you've mentioned that before. I will say, the chicken is a big enough entree that only half would be a suitable portion size, which helps. It seems sodium content definitely is less of a concern for many restaurants unfortunately, but you've definitely made me more conscious of sodium DVs in the food choices I make! LYFE does a great job of adjusting their food to match individuals' dietary preferences. You should give it a try, perhaps with grilled chicken and dressing and sauce on the side or without.

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