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[Photograph: Tessa McLean]

When you're headed to a restaurant that boasts everything will be under 600 calories, it's easy to get wary about what you're getting into. I'm all for healthy food, but there's something about an all-health-food establishment that makes me nervous. I opted for the Crispy Gardein Chicken Sandwich ($8.99) at Lyfe Kitchen during a recent lunch excursion, hoping to see what this new Art Smith helmed place was all about.

My "crispy chicken" sandwich, topped with shishito pepper relish, organic romaine, tomato, and red onion, didn't contain any actual chicken. Lyfe is using gardein, a meat-free substitute full of plant-based protein, which looks like and resembles chicken texturally. You could easily be fooled into thinking you're eating chicken, though it's one under-seasoned piece of "chicken." The nine-grain bun it sits on also didn't seem very fresh—I'm guessing it was a day or two old by its tough exterior.

The chipotle aioli is the savior of this sandwich, adding spice and richness to an otherwise bland creation. The shishito pepper relish is also rather tasty—it's sweet and vinegary with some salty capers that add a hint of sourness. At 563 calories, my sandwich almost hit the threshold, but next time I'd ask for some real chicken, or perhaps a black bean patty. If you don't stay for the protein, stick around for the condiments.

LYFE Kitchen

LYFE Kitchen

  • River North

413 N Clark St Chicago IL 60654 3128365933

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