When I hear the term flower child, I picture a young hippie girl with torn jeans, sandals on her feet, and her thumb out hitching a ride. Her destination would probably be the restaurant of the same name.
An offshoot of a healthy food concept that started in Phoenix in 2014, the local Flower Child landed in South End in midsummer of this year. I normally wouldn’t be writing about a chain, but this doesn’t feel like one. It seems like it popped up out of the ground … like a flower.
With an open, bright design and a funky atmosphere, Flower Child looks like it would fit right into the late ’60s Haight-Asbury district of San Francisco. The words “Happiness around every corner” are painted on one of the walls, with the obligatory peace sign painted on the facade of the building.
Upon entrance, customers are greeted by a welcoming face who will answer any questions they may have about the menu — and you probably will have some as there are a lot of choices. Selections include salads, bowls, entrees and wraps, along with plenty of sides.
The restaurant called out to me after all the unhealthy food I consumed before leaving Chicago, but I wasn’t expecting to be overwhelmed with flavor from a health-food restaurant. I was wrong on that point.
On my first visit, I ordered the spicy coconut curry. After just a few bites, I wrote, “Heaven in a bowl.” The curry was addicting and the thai herbs added some nice heat. There was also perfectly cooked eggplant, zucchini, grilled pineapple, yellow onion and organic brown rice. A splash of lime added some tartness. Protein options include tofu, chicken, steak, shrimp and salmon at an additional charge from $2.95 to $6.50.
My wife ordered the turkey avocado salad. It was crunchy and flavorful with the creamy avocado ranch as the perfect accompaniment. It was filled to the brim with romaine, arugula, cucumber, tomato, corn, white cheddar and pistachio. She enjoyed it and brought home leftovers.
On our next visit, I opted for the Vietnamese Crunch, which included savoy cabbage, quinoa, tomato, peppadew, pineapple, avocado, cashews, thai basil, cilantro and mint in a spicy lemongrass vinaigrette. My first thoughts were good fresh flavors, though the vinaigrette was more sweet than spicy. My wife went with the Flying avocado that included smoked turkey, gouda, romaine, tomato, avocado and hummus. She enjoyed it and the avocado hummus brought a surprising amount of flavor.
On my most recent visit, I decided to pick an entree with two sides. Protein choices are the same as listed above, beginning with tofu at $11.95, going up in price from chicken to steak to shrimp, with salmon being the priciest item on the menu at $15.50. I chose the shrimp, sauteed with teriyaki. There were seven on the plate along with my sides of brussel sprouts and sugar snaps with spicy eggplant.
The shrimp were not the biggest I’ve ever had and the flavor was just okay. On the other hand, the brussel sprouts were great. They may have been too charred for some, but if your mom fed you these as a kid, you would always have eaten your vegetables. The second side gave a nice complement of sweet with the snaps and spicy with the eggplant. My dish set me back $14.95.
My wife ordered the turkey and avocado cobb salad for $12.50. She liked her salad and mentioned how the almonds enhanced the taste. Her only complaint was she would have liked more avocado.
There is wine, beer, sangria, lemonade, cold brew, hot and iced tea along with a daily fresh juice to wash down the food.
My one issue with Flower Child is with the portions. I left hungry on each of my visits. A solution would be to offer bread. It seems like it would be the perfect spot to bake a daily loaf and include a few slices with each meal.
Flower Child is a beacon for vegetarians, vegans and those with gluten-free diets, but it’s good for anyone that likes good food. I wish there had been one in Chicago before I left, as I often got stuck settling for less than tasty fare at places that could accommodate my vegan buddy on our Tuesday lunches.
I rate Flower Child 3 bites out of 4. Good food and nice people, I just wish the portions were bigger.