It’s not Prasino’s fault that when you look up its address, you’re directed to the western suburb of La Grange: The original outpost of what’s now a three-restaurant enterprise is indeed located there. But it is someone’s fault that the new location—in Wicker Park—hasn’t been able to escape that suburban identity. The decor is hotel-bar chic, and though I believe Prasino’s “sustainable dining” mantra is in good faith, I saw nothing on the menu or in the space to confirm or deny that it was in practice.
Is lobster sustainable? It’s certainly rich, piled on an equally rich and creamy half of an avocado, dredged in an almost obscene “beurre fondue” (that’s butter). So, in case you were wondering whether sustainable intimated healthy, the answer is, uh, no. But you want indulgent? Get a load of the “Paris” eggs Benedict: ham, Brie, poached eggs and hollandaise on a croissant. Nuanced it is certainly not, but eggs Benedict has never been known for its subtlety. Likewise, to call the braised lamb shank (which one server recommended) hearty or comforting would simply be coy: This is survival food, caveman sustenance, meat on fat on starch, carnivorous gruel.
Tacos sound like a light, fresh break, and they would be if the grilled fish had even the slightest acidity—or even just a DIY lime wedge. Same with the sleepy Asian salad, a huge bowl of dull slaw occasionally awoken by a spiced cashew. So best to just roll with it, because the most delicious thing I ate at Prasino was also the most over the top: chocolate cake with candied peanuts.
Speaking of dessert, I feel I should mention the strawberry mousse, which comes with fresh strawberries and a couple of strawberry “chips” that add a pleasant textural contrast. I’m not, however, mentioning this dish to tell you about these strawberry chips: I’m bringing it up so you’re clear that when Prasino talks about sustainability, you’re best off not reading that as seasonality. (For real: It’s September!)
The dishes lacked balance, finesse and focus, yes, but nothing completely bombed: The food was, by and large, pleasant and crowd-pleasing, and a nice wine list with some cool biodynamic producers perked up the mundane meals. Well, nothing bombed except, on one visit, the service, which was a complete mess. Appetizers and entrées arrived before any drinks, and a general sense of confusion permeated the waitstaff. I don’t blame them; I don’t really get this place, either.