|« Turkish Festival through Saturday at Daley Plaza||Wanted: Your Cookie Genius »|
Restaurant Fri May 29 2009
There's a new place on Franklin Street across from the Sears Tower. Protein Bar lies just a few steps down from the sidewalk, in a storefront that's been carved from the face of a parking structure. It's very hard to tell that cars were, perhaps, parking in this location not long ago. The space looks bright and cheery, and with a nod perhaps to the office tower across the street, a ticker ran along the bottom of a large flat screen on the wall when I visited.
Protein Bar's offerings break down into three categories: blended drinks, savories like wraps, chili and bagels, and third, elaborate bowls of grains like oatmeal, quinoa with fresh peaches, and granola. They offer almond milk, rice milk, skim milk, soy milk and purified water as the base to their drinks. I chose soy in my Wrigley Peeled, which is a blend of chocolate, natural peanut butter, banana and ice. I asked why they don't use frozen bananas. They tried it, but didn't like the flavor as much, they told me. Perhaps it's a trade off between flavor and thickness. Although at home I'm a big fan of enough frozen bananas to make my drink achieve shake-like consistency, my drink at Protein Bar was nicely smooth, with a light chocolately flavor. They told me that many of their other drinks are thicker, however, because they use frozen fruit.
I couldn't help but try the vegetarian chili - vegan they told me. It gives a certain meatiness that comes from using TVP. It's like the chili I remember growing up with - soft bits of fleshy tomato and plenty of red beans. Except there may have been meat in my chili back in those days. There's corn, too, and the looks of celery.