Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Vegetarian in Toronto, Canada

Fresh restaurants in Toronto

Before I left on a business trip to Toronto recently, V did some research for me and saw rave reviews for "Fresh restaurants", a vegetarian chain in Toronto. Toronto has a lot of ethnic restaurants and finding vegetarian food would not have been a big problem, however, V and I love to ferret out the exclusive vegetarian restaurants whereever we go. There are three "Fresh" locations in Toronto, but if you are a tourist, you would want to take in the sights at the Harbor Front, gawk at the CN Tower, and then walk over to the Fresh on Spadina (at the intersection of Queen).

Taking a slight detour from my intended post, the revolving restaurant called 360 at the top floor of the CN Tower is worth it just for the view. They have a separate vegetarian menu. Agreed, it is rather uninspired, and the prices are very steep. However you get a free ride to the top (ticket price of $20) with the purchase of one entree (around $30). The restaurant makes a full rotation in about 70 mins offering gorgeous views of the bay, the small airstrip and the entire downtown.

Back to Fresh - the restaurant is rather low-key. Appetizers cost around $7 and entrees cost around $12. There is seating inside as well on the sidewalk. Fresh was started by Ruth Tal, primarily as a juice stand. It has since evolved in to a full-fledged restaurant serving an eclectic menu consisting of salads, wraps, burgers and fresh bowls. The burgers are supposed to be very good as per the reviews we read, and the sweet potato fries that come with the burgers are to die for, apparently. This time, though, I did not get the burger.

Curious to try what they call "dosas", I opted to get the "Avocado White Bean Dosa" from their starter menu. The dosa was not bad at all, it was filled with an avocado - white bean filling instead of the regular masala that is served at South Indian restaurants. It would have been great to have some chutneys on the side though.

My entree of choice was the Baby Buddha bowl - a mix of marinated tofu, sprouts, and fresh vegetables dressed with Thai peanut sauce, served over brown rice. A full Buddha bowl or any other variety (around $12) would make a very satisfying and filling meal all by itself, since the baby Buddha bowl itself was quite big.

I got the food "to-go" and it was ready in 10 minutes. While I was waiting I browsed the two cookbooks written by the founder, Ruth Tal and her partner Jennifer Houston. The cookbooks seemed interesting, and started from the basics of preparing vegetarian food. I need to check them out at the library. Service was very pleasant. The bill came to around $20 for the two items. I would like to try the burger if I go back to Fresh.

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