Fast food is bad for you. It's so bad it's two four-letter f-word bad for you. You should never, ever, ever eat fast food or you'll get fat and get sick and you'll be miserable and wonder why you can't make good choices.
Here's a good choice for you: Green Bean.
Green Bean is fast food, but it's unlike any fast food you've had before. It's healthy. It's local. It's gluten- and GMO- and nut-free. It's the brainchild of a Trotter-trained chef and a healthcare administrator.
Most importantly, it's delicious.
Partners Aaron Bush and Chef Mike Watson hosted one of our Chef's Table events and showed off their culinary chops. The event series is designed to showcase hidden gems that feature passionate chefs and restaurateurs, and Green Bean most definitely fits the bill.
Our evening began with a cup of roasted red pepper soup topped with microgreens. Many of their ingredients are sourced locally, including the greens. I heard exclamations from our guests, immediately surprised by the robust flavors and crisp greens. My husband, who doesn't like red peppers whether they're roasted or not, practically licked the bowl (as did I).
While Green Bean does not have a liquor license, they were able to serve alcohol because they closed the doors for this private event. Their pairings were spot-on and served to highlight their advanced palates. These gents know what they're doing when it comes to dining. The soup was paired with an Argentinian white wine enhanced with fresh basil and lime, providing a refreshing counterpart for the savory soup.
The second course was a salad with local mesclun mix, local strawberries, local blueberries, and local feta topped with a hot bacon dressing and paired with a strawberry cider from Cider Boys. Not a huge cider fan, this was another great pairing. The cider wasn't too sweet, which worked well with the candy-like sweetness of the fresh strawberry.
Next we tried one of their on-menu favorites, the sweet potato fries. There was no grease, just crispiness, and we all devoured them. They were paired with Omission Lager, a beer out of Portland brewed to remove gluten. I'm a big beer fan, so big that I just hosted my fifteenth AlphaBeer event, and I like my beer with gluten. This beer is one I would buy without feeling like I've sacrificed a wit. (Spelling intentional - beer fans will understand.)
Tne entree for the evening was a lemon chicken breast served over gluten-free pasta with zucchini noodles and a blistered tomato marinara. As with gluten-free beer I've avoided gluten-free pasta - I want the "real" thing. I'm now a convert - at least for their gluten-free pasta! They paired it with 19 Crimes, a red blend with a black pepper finish that elicited several exclamations of "wow!"
Our final course was a double-chocolate muffin stuffed with raspberry gelato served with a side of brownie bite. "I thought you said this was gluten-free?" you ask. "I did!" I proclaim, with just as much surprise. "So how's it taste?" you ask. "Mmshoogood," I say. Please excuse me for talking with my mouth full.
This was paired with their Sumatra Black Silk Café au Lait. I elected to have mine sans au Lait. Normally a sweetener fiend, I thought I should probably try it before adding the Stevia. No sweetener needed. Lucky you, they have this smooth yet robust blend available for purchase so you can make it at home.
Physically, Green Bean is about what you'd expect from a fast food restaurant. It's a small space with counter service only. But when you look a little deeper, you notice the utensils are made of bamboo and the cups and straws are recycled and recyclable. They're committed to the health not only of their patrons but also of the environment (which, by extension, is good for the health of their patrons).
Creating a menu and cuisine that is gluten-free and appeals to both ends of the spectrum, from celiac to wheat-lover, is not something that just anyone can create. Chef Mike commented that one of the aspects of running a gluten-free restaurant is how much science is involved in the cuisine, and it seems they've hit upon the right formula.
Located near DePaul University at 734 W Fullerton Ave, Green Bean is in a perfect location to reach both the active student body at the college as well as the residents of Lincoln Park. It's close enough to the park itself that you could pick up a picnic on your way to the zoo or to the lakefront path. Make good choices: stop into Green Bean for some fast, healthy food.