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A near sellout crowd gathered for Evanston’s first Green Restaurant Crawl Tuesday evening, Oct. 5. Sponsored by the Business Alliance for a Sustainable Evanston, or BASE, the event was split into three groups rotating between three separate sites. A total of 90 tickets were available for three groups of 30. According to BASE chair Paige Finnigan, 82 tickets sold.
The groups gathered independently at Quince at the Homestead restaurant on Hinman, Blind Faith Cafe on Dempster, and Vinic Wine Shop on Chicago. After spending about half an hour sampling sustainably produced food and wine, and hearing a brief description of sustainable practices employed at that site, the groups rotated until all three had visited all of the sites.
David Lipschutz, owner of Blind Faith, spoke of his business’s 30-year commitment to environmental causes. Blind Faith was practicing sustainability before it was cool, he said, as the crowd enjoyed stuffed grape leaves and kung pao gardein (a meat substitute made by combining soy, wheat and bean proteins). Attendees had no contact with crawlers outside their group of 30, but were able to network and share ideas within their particular group.
Benjamin Benbow, soux chef at Quince, introduced his dishes, an excellent halibut croquette served in a Japanese soup spoon and a surprising silver dollar-sized pancake served with an apple chip, a pear compote, and an infused cherry. Quince gets as much as it can from the Evanston Farmers’ market and supplements it with a rooftop garden and front yard garden, he said. The restaurant buys and grows locally as much as possible.
Vinic served white and red wine produced using sustainable practices. Owner Sandeep Ghaey said that he and the shop’s manager taste every wine in the shop before buying it. Included in the shop’s impressive organic and sustainable section are the two wines sampled. Both wines are produced by wineries that offset their entire carbon usage in producing wine, making their carbon footprint a net zero.
Happily, this reporter’s group finished at the wine shop, where the group lingered talking and drinking, well past the events scheduled conclusion. If only sustainability were always so tasty.