Purple Sprout Café Review – Wonderful, Accessible Vegan Food

Vegan restaurants always interest me.  While usual restaurants offer me relatively few choices as a gluten-free vegetarian, the world is my oyster, so to speak at a vegan restaurant.  But, is the food tasty?  That varies a lot so I was really delighted to discover that Purple Sprout Café in Wheeling is a hidden treasure.  The food was so delicious and I felt so good when I left, that I am thinking about trying this approach to food on a regular basis.



Owners, husband and wife, Karim Raimbekov and Irena Kuznetsova, left Kasakstan, their original home, for Chicago, later moving to Wheeling in 2005.  Irena has a corporate background, with a lot of administrative experience while Karim has a medical background.  What led the two of them to open this restaurant?


Irina Kuznetsova and Karim Raimekov

The story begins when, after delivering her first child, Irena found she was less healthy than she had thought.  In fact, she has many serious health problems that weren’t improving with traditional medical intervention. As a frequent listener to Russian radio 1430 A M, she heard that a Macrobiotic workshop- a Norbedov Course-which is very popular in Russia, was to be offered locally and she attended. 


She followed her training with classes at the Macrobiotic Center of Chicago. She learned about the value of plant-based foods, Ph balance, and much more.  Both Irena and Karim learned how to prepare healthful and delicious food, often adapting their Russian cooking style.  Their two children, Ruslan, 7 and Alen, 3 were at the restaurant and clearly benefit from this diet, looking the pictures of health.


Kate and a lovely board

Irena healed and Karim found many of his hospice patients also benefitted from this kind of food preparation and he felt healthy and energetic, in addition.  After working for five years to perfect their cooking skills and adapting and developing recipes, they were ready to share their “bounty” with “the world”.  As they set up their restaurant, which opened in November of 2015, their goal was to have a restaurant that was casual and accessible, where their food would be reasonable in price and where their patrons would become a community that appreciated the food and would possibly also find value in adopting a macrobiotic approach. At the restaurant, Armando, prepares the food.  His background in food preparation greatly enhances the variety, quality and flavor of the food at the Purple Sprout Café.


Delicious sweets


Stepping inside the restaurant, my husband and I found ourselves in a bright and clean, well organized place to eat.  The case with dessert was so tempting.  But we had to wait a bit to experience these goodies.



There was a case of hot dishes, carry out items, and frozen food plus other condiments, books, etc.  We ordered from the board and soup changes every day.  We sat at a table and the food was brought to the table.


Carry out, frozen and...

Shelley and Bob Phillipe were also enjoying the food at Purple Sprout Café.  They drove in from Elgin.  Why?  Shelley wants to see if she can lower her cholesterol and Bob is trying to lower his blood pressure.  They decided to try a vegetarian diet for six weeks.  Shelley’s Mom knew about this and when she picked up a Herald at the Senior Center in Bloomingdale, she noticed the ad for Purple Sprout and told Shelley.  Visitors have also come from Milwaukee and parts of Indiana.



HempBurger w/Sprouts and cilantro-Tahini Sauce-wonderful flavors and contrasting textures, Photo: Leon Keer


Talking with Shelley and Bob, it turned out that we enjoyed some of the same dishes: the soup of the day-lentil and sourkraut, topped with cilantro; crepe (GF) filled with a chickpea veggie scramble. (The soups change daily and include split pea and beet.) This kind of eating is new to Shelley and Bob and they just loved everything they tried.  Tofu was new.  Shelley and I agreed that the several textures in the scramble and the crunch in the filling was pleasant to eat and the flavors were wonderful.


Lentil with sourkraut-soup changes each day

In addition to the delicious soup and crepe, we explored the lentil dumplings with side salad, which my husband loved, the hempburger with gluten-free bun, sprouts, cilantro and tahini sauce.  We took just a little home and it was still so good when we ate it.


Chickpea Veggie Scramble- a delicious crunch, Photo: Leon Keer


And then there was dessert and “coffee”.  The Chickory root coffee was just delicious with and without almond milk.  One of the sweets was better than the next, and included: mint, chocolate, spinach pie, lemon cookie, raspberry filled macaroon, and carmel cookie, that are indescribably delicious.


So good- and sugar - free: mint, chocolate spinach pie,chocolate covered lemon truffle, coconut raspberry macaroons, chocolate covered caramel, Photo:Leon Keer


Interestingly, in the morning an article from Huffington Post  came my way.   The article says the world can be saved by veganism.  If Irina and Karim have their way, this will certainly be the case.


Watch for news, updates and additional offerings at on Purple Sprout's Facebook – cooking classes, weekly meal plans, expanded delivery and more.

Purple Sprout Café

341 E Dundee Rd, Wheeling, IL 60090

Phone:(224) 223-7133



Photos: B. Keer unless otherwise noted

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