First Look: The Balanced Kitchen*

There’s a healthy alternative to fast food found on a small stretch of McCormick Road in Sauganash, just north of Chicago. The Balanced Kitchen offers a unique dining experience: everything on the menu is vegan and gluten-free, and the restaurant itself is green and LEED certified. The Balanced Kitchen’s furniture is made from recycled materials, and meals-to-go are packaged in reusable dishware. The restaurant was created after pastry chef Elizabeth Alper learned she had Celiac disease, a debilitating reaction to gluten, which is a key ingredient in most baked goods. After joining forces with chef Zachary Bello, the two are on a mission to bring organic, vegan, and gluten-free foods into the mainstream of Chicago eating.

The small, ever-changing menu may include items like Curry Pie, squash stewed in coconut milk and curry powder, wrapped in a flaky crust and served with seasonal chutney, cilantro and tamarind dipping sauces, or Banana Bread French Toast, served with maple syrup. Fresh and flavorful sandwiches are served on vegan and gluten-free bread from Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery in Evanston. Baked goods and tempting treats (including pistachio lemon and “sour cream” grapefruit cookies) from The Bot Bakery, The Balanced Kitchen’s sweet sister, are available for dessert.

A small retail section of the store highlights vegan cookbooks, bread mixes and ingredients, perfect for creating your own vegan creations at home. A six-course brunch is served Sunday with a single seating at noon. The Balanced Kitchen also caters small events at their place or yours.

Hours: 11 am-7 am, Tuesday through Friday; 11 am-9 pm, Saturday, Sunday brunch by reservation only.

*Originally Published in Centerstage Chicago.

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