Saturday, November 03, 2007

Veggie Time

This is the promised post about my favourite vegetarian restaurants around town, requested by the clever Urban Pedestrian.

I'm glad to have an excuse to write about this. I tend to blather on about food all the time, but making it coherent is another issue all together.

I stopped eating chicken and red meat completely about eight or nine years ago. I never liked chicken, and my darling Vega test told me I was sensitive to red meat. That was enough reason for me, although I've continued eating fish as part of my diet. Some people call that vegetarian, and some people don't. I just call it what I eat. Besides, my diet is strange enough with or without meat. I eat very little wheat, processed sugar, milk products etc. It's a bit of a puzzle. A delicious puzzle.

But what do I eat around Ottawa? Maybe it's because I've lived here so long, but I never have problems eating in this city. If you know where to go, there are some really great restaurants that will give you a consistently amazing meal. Veggie and veggie-friendly restaurants are no different.

My most favourite veggie restaurant is a hidden treasure: Perfection, Satisfaction, Promise on Laurier. In the heart of the University of Ottawa, my Better Half and I came across this place by accident one evening. It's quite small, but the quality of the food is excellent, as are the prices. It's a very casual atmosphere, and it's run by those fascinating Sri Chinmoy people. You know... The ones who wear saris and seem to do nothing but jog and make veggie food? I'm not so sold on their religion/sect/cult, but I am sold on their eats. The mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy is to die for, as is the brown rice and avocado. And their basic lentil soup? Amazing. Always. If you haven't been here, do try to go.

Another one of my faves is the Green Door on Main St. Their food is also consistently good, and they have a huge selection for people with all sorts of food sensitivities. You can find vegan and wheat-free dishes here, and their dessert section is huge. My only complaint is the price. Because the food is sold by weight, it's easy to fill up your plate and have to pay through the nose for your food. Is it worth it? Yes. Just don't go every night.

I mentioned that I found a "gem" of a restaurant yesterday. This is where you go to treat yourself. It's called Fleur de Sel, at 59 Laval in downtown Hull. It's a hip little place, and you are treated like a Very Famous Person when you walk in. They serve fancy, French-style cuisine, and ohmygawd it's good. The best part? The price. Get ready for this. At lunch time, I paid $15 for a table d'hote. So, I got a fancy appetizer, and super fancy main course, and an amazing dessert. (The dessert was fresh strawberries drizzled with rose water and sugar, and fresh mint. Delicious.) This was another accidental find, but was it ever good. Treat yourself. I imagine the dinner menu is a tiny bit more expensive, but it's worth every bite.

For those of you who work downtown, I highly recommend Bread and Sons bakery. It's across from Compact Music on Bank, and you can get healthy quick meals at a good price. This is one place that makes sandwiches I love.... A rare feat. They also have soups and salads and vegan pizza, should you desire it. I buy all my bread here. Kamut sourdough? So good.

That is the bulk of my favourite veggie places, but I'll quickly throw out a couple of veggie-friendly spots too.

The Bangkok Thai Garden at 370 Dalhousie is hands down my favourite place to go. It's next to the Book Market, so you can catch up on your reading before and after your meal. It looks very plain on the outside, but don't be fooled. Their food is so good it will make you weak in the knees. They also have some great veggie and seafood dishes. Number 27, deep fried tofu and red curry, will make you grin from ear to ear.

Lastly, Ceylonta on Somerset is a great place to have Sri Lankan and South Indian food. Try their vegetable thali with some rice and naan. You'll get about ten tiny dishes with a variety of veggie curries. Dip and sample to your heart's content.

Does anyone else have some faves they'd like to recommend? There are lots of other places, but you know me and food. I can go on. These are my staples, and fuck they're good.


Tiana said...

I like the Sacred Garden on Bank by the river. Brent doesn't like it as much as I do so we normally go to Anna Thai and ask them to replace the meat with veggies but there's still oyster or fish sauce in the stuff.

Every time I try to go to PSP it's closed! And I work on campus! (I'd say it's more of the hat than the heart, since it's at the upper North end)

East Indian Company on Somerset has a good selection of veggie dishes all the time and even more on Tuesdays.

Memories in the market also has some good veggie dishes but they don't seem to change their menu very often and I'm starting to get tired of always having the same things.


Thanks, so much for this post. I've been to PSP and loved it and I've been to Sacred Garden more often and really love that place. I love Thai anyway and it's closer to home. I haven't been to Green Door or the bakery place, but they're next on my list now. And I'll have to try to get over to your new little gem some time for sure. Sounds fabulous. There's another veggie place we went once, but I can't remember the name of it right now -- it was a cafeteria style where you paid by weight?? I'm also very sad that Lick's disappeared -- they had a good selection of vegan/veggie things for those times I felt like something to go!

Andrea SK said...

Tiana: I also really like the Sacred Garden, but I'm sometimes amused by all the imitation duck and imitation pork... I mean hey, I never liked the stuff in the first place! Their soups are amazing though. Sad that PSP is always closed when you go... It's so tasty. Good call on the other suggestions too!

UP: Glad it was helpful! The Green Door is cafeteria style, as is The Table near Westboro. Maybe you went there? And whoah.... is Licks gone? The location on Bank? No way!


Ya, The Table, that's it. And yes, Lick's just up and left from one week to the next without warning. We like to do Saturday mornings along Bank Street and sometimes stop at Lick's for lunch. Then it was gone. Now where do we get a good plain veggie burger & fries?

What freaks me out at Sacred Garden is the fake shrimp. Blech. They're not good, but they sure look real. And the fake duck stuff, I guess they have to call it something and it maybe sounds more appetising than wheat gluten or whatever it is they make it from.