Review Revue: Sun-Times @ Alhambra, Soul Vegetarian East, And Little Desserts

Okay, so today’s ST is not at little desserts; that does not make grammatical sense. Instead, Jennifer Olvera outlines a new trend toward smaller portions in dessert menus around the city. Yes, and why not? People put off by a big dessert, especially at lunch time, have been increasingly won over by innovate concepts like “The World’s Smallest Dessert Menu,” offered during the day at Vong’s Thai Kitchen. Featuring ten items for $1 or $1.50 like passion fruit soufflé with passion fruit ice cream and warm valrhona chocolate cake with coconut sorbet, diners now have the option to indulge their sweet teeth just a tiny bit, without feeling overly guilty about calories or the bill. Managing partner Jeffrey Alexander reports that proportion of patrons ordering dessert during lunch has increased from 10% to 70% following the introduction of the special menu. That’s a lot! More restaurants should institute microportion dollar menus. Can you imagine the joy of ordering, say, twenty different items, each one around two bites large? Someone please do this, asap.

On to the reviews. Denise O’Neal heads dutifully to Alhambra Palace, which she’s already dubbed “a tourist attraction,” is treating her right with its Chicken ala Marakesh (ready for the description? “A beautiful marriage of soft, slowly cooked boneless chicken breast, regional herbs & seasonings and julienne of vegetables in our ‘signature’ fresh pomegranate & walnut sauce [dish served with couscous and prepared in authentic Moroccan Tagine cookware].”

All those words, and only $20) and good hummus. But even if you don’t love the food (or, according to the reviews on MenuPages, the service), O’Neal insists that we head over to check out the grandeur, which will “leave you feeling as though you have been transported to another world.” Of tackiness.

Lisa Donovan hits up Soul Vegetarian East (205 E 75th St, 773-224-0104; we don’t have the menu right now, but check back later today), whose vegan cuisine is inspired by owner Prince Asiel Ben-Israel’s religious beliefs. He and his wife Yohanna are African Hebrew Israelites, one of the purported “lost tribes” of Israel (for a gross oversimplification, think of it as a Jewish version of Rastafarianism), and among the Biblical passages they take seriously, one from Genesis stands out in informing their dietary choices: “God also said: ‘See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food.” There’s plenty of stuff in the Bible about eating animals, too, but whatever - Soul Veg’s offerings are a hell of a lot healthier than standard soul food fare, but similarly spiced and entirely enjoyable. Good for the Earth, good for the body, good for the soul, and all that jazz.

Downsizing desserts [Sun-Times]

Vong’s Thai Kitchen [MenuPages]
Vong’s Thai Kitchen [Official Site]

Award-winning chef creates royal digs, menu [Sun-Times]

Alhambra Palace [MenuPages]
Alhambra Palace [Official Site]

Religion, food choices go hand in hand at restaurant

[Photo: Carrot burger from Soul Vegetarian East, courtesy of PJ Chmiel’s Vegan in Chicago]


Review Revue: Sun-Times @ Alhambra, Soul Vegetarian East, And Little Desserts