Cost: $9 per person
So this summer I'm planning on going to India to visit my friend Supreet. The first thing I had to do was get a travel visa, and one of the requirements is having a birth certificate. Good thing my parents couldn't find it, and I had to go to the Daley center to get a new one. Through a whole series of events I ended up with an excessive amount of time to kill in the middle of the day in between getting my birth certificate and visa. Luckily when I called the Professor he was available to meet for lunch. We walked a few blocks from his office to e. leaven.
e. leaven is a simple order at the counter operation where they give you a number and deliver your food. It seems like a pretty efficient business lunch locale in the middle of River North. They've got plenty of seating, fountain machines, and a setup that puts you right in line when you walk through the front door (hope I'm painting a typical picture here). On top of lunch it seems like there's a pretty decent breakfast menu which the Prof took advantage of.
The cost is on par with most other places where you might get a soup and salad combo ($9). Portion wise it was average as well. Ultimately that might be a good thing since I often doze off in afternoon classes as a result of overeating at lunch. The Professor's omelette was around $8, and it came standard with a bagel and potatoes. Comparing to other neighborhood breakfast spots that seems like a solid price to me.
I ordered the lunch combo with half of a Roast Beef Sandwich and Butternut Squash Soup. The soup was a little runnier than I'd expected and a little heavy on the cinnamon, but overall I really liked it (I might just be too used to the butternut squash soup you get in a box at Trader Joe's). The sandwich was interesting. The multigrain bread had a firm crust, soft interior, and lots of grains throughout. The meat was dry and outweighed how good the bread was. The Professor got an Omelette with an Everything Bagel. The omelette had plenty of cheese and seemed rather fluffy. The bagel was pretty lacking for the term "everything." Predominantly it was covered in salt, but the texture was how I think it should be (firmer on the outside than what you usually get). The potatoes were nothing to write home about and lacked much resemblance of crisp.
The Roast Beef Sandwich and Butternut Squash Soup
The Omelette with an Everything Bagel and Potatoes
I think the key strength to e. leaven is their bread products. If I went back I'd probably get breakfast food. I'd also suggest this as a place to pick up a dozen bagels. For a lunch spot though I'd say it was just kind of average. I'm giving e. leaven 2.5 out of 5 Pearls.