Category: Toronto Vegan

Public Kitchen

Vegan, Organic, Gluten Free & Raw Options
October 25
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Any restaurant that serves savoury popcorn instead of your usual bread basket while you ponder the menu options is a-okay in my books – which is exactly how the Public Kitchen experience begins.

Doug McNish is a local Toronto vegan celeb, with his ‘Kale is the New Beef’ shirts spotted at most vegan pop-ups and festivals. Doug’s Public Kitchen is his new restaurant on Marlee Avenue, but it’s also a takeaway store and teaching kitchen. The shelves are lined with snacks, single hard-to-find organic ingredients, and copies of his three well-known cookbooks (in which you can find recipes for many of his menu items!).wpid-wp-1445807135686.jpg

Being Sunday morning, coffee was also a must. It arrived quickly with almond milk and coconut sugar.wpid-wp-1445807264707.jpg

To confirm our waitress’s statement that “Doug is something of a chemist”, we were encouraged to order the Negg McNish. Using water, nutritional yeast, tofu, and culinary chemistry, a poached ‘egg’ is presented on a cashew cheddar cheese slice and a sprouted grain English muffin. This is the closest alternative to an egg that I have ever tried, complete with that ooey-gooey runny goodness when cut open. The Negg McNish is served with a lightly dressed green salad and hashbrown patty.wpid-2015-10-19-03.55.53-1.jpg.jpg

The tostada appetizer followed; a colourful platter of cashew sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, and sunflower seed ‘refried beans’. The tostadas are a curiously fantastic corn and carrot concoction that is dehydrated until crisp. We loaded them with the fixings, and found the refried beans so hearty and irresistible that we enjoyed it on its own.wpid-2015-10-19-03.55.52-1.jpg.jpg

To compliment our two savoury dishes, we ordered smoothies and crepes. I immediately went for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Smoothie (made from almond milk, frozen banana, crunchy peanut butter, ground cinnamon, maca, and candied buckwheat) while my friend ordered the Chocolate Coconut Banana Cream Pie Smoothie (made from almond milk, frozen banana, fresh vanilla beans, virgin coconut oil, maple syrup, and a shredded coconut and cacao nib topping). From the first to the last sip, I could taste every dimension of the ingredient list, from the sweetness of the almond milk to the sharp bite of the cinnamon.wpid-wp-1445807264705.jpg

Having never tried raw crepes before, I was excited to tuck into these apple banana crepes loaded with berries, coconut cream, walnut date crumble, and a cacao fondue. The crepes and fondue weren’t as sweet as I was expecting, but I believe this was a great way to enjoy the sweet fruit and coconut cream without being too overpowering.wpid-wp-1445807264711.jpg

Despite the cold fall air, an ice cream sundae seemed like the only logical way to conclude the meal. A vanilla ice cream with cacao fondue and strawberries was devoured in minutes. Between mouthfuls, we marveled over how we’d completely forgotten that this was a vegan ice cream. It had a beautiful homemade flavour and firm texture, and we could subtly taste the coconut base.wpid-wp-1445807135685.jpg

You may view the full menu here: wpid-2015-10-19-03.55.59-1.jpg.jpg

Final Thoughts: 

Overall, this was a true artisan dining experience. Everything was plated beautifully and tasted incredible. It is truly a place where vegans and the most carnivorous of carnivores can appreciate the gastronomical genius of the recipes. As well, the menu contains a legend to clearly indicate items with gluten or non-gluten adjustments, as well as for soy. Dishes are about $10-17 which is completely reasonable when considering the ingredients and creativity being served. Doug McNish prides himself on using the finest organic ingredients and it’s apparent in every innovative bite.

Review written by TVJ write Joanna G. 

Cosmic Treats

Vegan Comfort Foods & Dessert Bar, Gluten Free Options
October 16
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I’m just going to start on a cliché note: A vegan dining experience changed my life. Really.

This experience went down at Kensington Market’s newest spot, Cosmic Treats. This restaurant and dessert bar is 100% vegan, with a sweet and savoury fare that is 100% not boring or your average “kale and chia” affair, says owner Elliot. He proudly looks around the place, explaining how he combined his 3 favourite things (“vegan food, the colour orange, and outer space”) to create a spot that is truly is his own. The menu is filled with familiar appetizers, main dishes, ice cream, desserts, and alcoholic drinks (including boozy milkshakes!).wpid-2015-10-16-04.43.51-1.jpg.jpg

We began with an ice cream float with sprite and birthday cake ice cream. The ice cream is cashew-based and had a nice firm consistency just like the dairy kind.
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The appetizer menu featured salads and gazpacho, but we felt sinful and settled on fried cheese sticks and the mixed root-vegetable fries with a spicy aioli. I was initially skeptical of ordering a cheese-based app since vegan cheeses can be hit or miss – thankfully this went beyond a hit and was a full home-run. The panko was crispy, the cheese was gooey, and the jalapeño havarti offered the perfect level of heat. The root vegetable fries had a nice rustic flavor, and we pretty much licked the aioli dish clean.

Next, we tucked into 3 main dishes.

First up, the barbecued tofu encrusted in Sweet Chili Heat Doritos: Yes, you read that correctly. Do yourself a favour and order this dish; you’ll never find tofu with this much personality again.

Second, the sausage and pepper sandwich: This sandwich featured Italian sausage (tofurky) and peppers, smothered in a delicious marinara sauce with sautéed onions. As a big sandwich aficionado, this really hit the spot and I was incredibly impressed with how savoury it was.wpid-20151010-899561208.jpg

Finally, a breakfast platter of blueberry pancakes, scrambled tofu, and hash browns: This platter was absolutely heaped with food, and would be the perfect hangover helper (or meal, in general) for any vegan or non-vegan alike. I’ve had my share of scrambled tofu and it’s not usually the greatest imitation of the real thing, but this was as good as it gets. (Pictured above)

It would be wrong to come here without trying the homemade ice cream and a baked good or two. We chose the Cupcake Sundae: Your choice of ice cream sandwiched between a chocolate cupcake with your choice of sauce, toppings, whipped cream, and maraschino cherry. We chose vanilla, chocolate sauce, sprinkles and marshmallows, and felt like happy little kids again. The pastry and ice cream were so rich, you truly couldn’t tell that you were eating something dairy or butter-free. The stigma of vegan desserts being either impossible or flavourless were completely shattered with our dessert course, and between mouthfuls we were already discussing which flavours we’d eat next.wpid-20151010-2087459619.jpg

Final Thoughts:

My taste buds were pampered, my expectations were exceeded, and my stomach was quite possibly stretched. I truly cannot wait to come back to Cosmic Treats and work my way through their impressive menu of comfort foods and sweet treats.

See the menu here:
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Written by TVJ writer Joanna G. 

Fresh

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, Juice Bar
June 28
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Let me start off this post by telling you that Fresh is one of my favorite restaurants. Ever. It’s my go-to restaurant for most occasions: birthdays, dinners, anniversaries, etc. It’s also a restaurant that most non-veg humans love and a great place to take your meat loving pals. There is literally something for everyone there! Almost every item on the menu is vegan, although they do offer very few dairy options. 

I have been to almost every Fresh location in Toronto, as they have 4 spots all over the city. I frequently return to the location on Eglinton Ave, because 1. they have a great outdoor patio and 2. I have friends that live in that area. It is also easily accessible by public metro. The location on Queen St West (Crawford) also has a great patio. 

Fresh is amazing. Their menu is exploding with options. The whole first side of the menu is beverages – a plethora of fresh smoothies, juices, coffees, teas and more. Literally drink heaven; they’ve got everything (including alcoholic beverages!). My recent favorite drink is the ‘Power Cookie’ power shake. It tastes like desert in a cup. I have also tried the ‘Tumeric Gold’, ‘Green Detox’ and ‘Gojiccino”, each one better than the last. 

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