Green Exchange Building's Arbor offers sustainable food, environment

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A lot of chefs like to talk about how they use local gardens to supply their kitchens. But Hungry Hound Steve Dolinsky says a new restaurant inside of a renovated industrial building right off of the Kennedy Expressway is backing up that claim, and taking it a few steps further.

Like any forward-thinking cafe, the coffee program at Arbor - inside the Green Exchange Building near Logan Square and West Lakeview - is ambitious. But it's also a small part of the big picture here since the building, and everything inside of it, is sustainable.

"Absolutely coffee is the focus, heavily in the morning, and then throughout the day, more of a European style. We have folks who will come here and just sip espressos through the afternoon; it's really a workspace and collaboration space throughout the day," said Chef and Partner Leonard Hollander.

Besides coffee, wonderful scones, like chocolate-cherry bekon, as does a grain bowl with a perfectly-cooked egg. At lunch, it's soup and sandwiches, but clearly, a few steps up from the usual cafe fare, since they have their very own garden directly behind the building adjacent to the Metra line. Peppers, herbs and lettuces are abundant and organic. Most everything ends up on their plates, like their excellent chicken sandwich.

"We like to grill ours. We do a lemon-ramp aioli with some of the ramps that we pickled from earlier this season...feta, a little zucchini slaw," Hollander said.

At dinner, more composed dishes, often part of an omakase, or tasting menu, like homemade bacon cured with Aleppo peppers and orange and smoked for five hours, plus a seared scallop that's basted with brown butter and hit with fresh orange zest topped with a bright fennel salad picked from the garden.

"The goal is really to be hyper-relevant and focused at each part of the day," he said.

Now just because the building is LEED platinum-certified doesn't mean the restaurant has to abide by those rules, however, they are employing a lot of those sustainable practices here every day, and turns out, it's all delicious.

Even though breakfast and lunch are inexpensive, the night time "omakase," or tasting menu, is quite a bit more ambitious and pricier. Reservations are recommended as well.

2545 W. Diversey Ave.
(312) 866-0795

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.