Vegan Tasting Menu at George Restaurant

George Restaurant is a fancy upscale restaurant in the Verity/Ivy Hotel building. It features booths and tables, and an open kitchen that  you can see as you pass by on Queen. Last month, JC and I went over there to celebrate the 3-year anniversary of the first day we met. I didn’t bring a particularly good camera, and I didn’t write any notes on any of these, but I do want to share how beautiful and delicious these items all were while I still have even a fleeting memory of the dishes. Sadly, my good camera is still out of commission, and the camera we picked up as stopgap handles low light even more poorly than a cellphone camera. JC called George in advance and asked whether they could do a completely vegan tasting menu, they said they could, so he planned our evening there. George does have a lacto-ovo-vegetarian menu on the website offered regularly, and also a note that various dietary restrictions can be accommodated since everything they make is made in the kitchen (including the breads.) As soon as I walked in the space felt really relaxing, friendly hostess, it was well lit, with warm golden lights…

Read more

Las Vegas – Throwback Tuesday – Vegan eating at Sinatra

Sinatra was our extra special night out for New Year’s Eve. It’s (of course) a Frank Sinatra themed restaurant in the Encore Tower in Las Vegas, and once you walk in you just might get the vibe you’ve travelled through time to years gone by. Frank Sinatra music plays en loop, you will get people demonstrate the wine with all the flourish of any other fine dining establishment, and while they have a vegan menu, they will be surprised that you want it (or at least they were in our case.) First of all, they bring a basket of bread – remember to ask for Earth Balance or say you’re vegan from the beginning. It does make it easier. We started with the Insalatina deli’ Imperatore, but I’d just call it a Caesar salad. Spears of fresh crisp lettuce, a sharp flavourful caesar dressing, and a few spears of thinly sliced toasted bread. I’m not generally a salad lover, but this was an excellent start to the meal (and just happened to be delicious.)

Read more

A First Taste of Grasslands Restaurant Toronto – Vegan Fine Dining is back

Read my updated review here. Once upon a time there was Fressen, and it was okay, but then it closed at the end of last year and we were all lamenting the end of all vegan fine dining in Toronto. But before we could get too sad, Fressen’s owner,  Stephan Gardener, promised that a new revived restaurant would replace it in a few months, and this week, Fressen was reborn, in a new incarnation. RIP Fressen,  and welcome Grasslands! We went on Day Two (03/28/2013) with a troupe of hungry vegans, and ready to try new and exciting things. On first glance it looked a lot like the old menu, but then there were several delightful differences. As promised there was a much more substantial cocktail menu, and a different dessert (though our server assured us more options were coming – as this was just the beginning.) “Bar Snax,”  has lots of fun and interesting treats like sliders, mezze plate (with kibbeh, tapenade, hummus, olives, etc), and even popcorn chicken (just to name a few.) It’s nice to know that they’re aiming to keep serving these items until 12 or 1 am. I love what they’ve done with the interior,…

Read more

Recipe for Change 2013 – An Evening in Pictures

There were so many lovely vegan options at last Thursday’s Recipe for Change, we left happy and satisfied. My favourite part is when things end up vegan at the event, that I was unsure about. As much as I like having a prepared list with me, it’s really nice to have the opportunity to talk about food with chefs around the city. It feels like there is this kinship with people passionate about food, even if our choices aren’t the same. Maybe it’s just because they’re all being extra nice at the event, but it’s just such a pleasure to meet and talk with people that share or exceed your love of presentation, ingredients, and flavour. It was already quite busy when I arrived at St. Lawrence Market, my attempt to be fashionably early was foiled  by the usual Toronto excuse – streetcars. Everyone was mingling and chatting, the room was full of the smell of food. Nothing in particular stood out right away, it was just that delicious sign that let’s you know: there are tasty things happening here. I made a b-line to the first station – Chef Bashir Munye’s – My Little Dumplings. Beautiful little dumplings with curried butternut…

Read more

Valentine’s Day 2013 – Taste Valentine – Vegan Style at Canoe

Taste Valentine Canoe

As I mentioned in my TILT last Thursday, I really love Valentine’s Day, and like last year JC set up a nice big thoughtful surprise. He didn’t tell me what he was up to until about 20 minutes before we arrived at the restaurant, just that we’d need to be ready by 5pm, and it was going to be a bit fancy. Surprise – we were off the Bay and Wellington – Canoe, one of the places I had been in contact to potentially host our wedding (but never eaten at.) JC had arranged a vegan tasting menu, because as usual, the standard Valentine’s Day menu was anything but. So there began Taste Valentine’s vegan Style.    

Read more

Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco Birthday Dinner – 5-course tasting menu, wine pairing, custom cakes, oh my.

On December 26th we flew over to San Francisco to celebrate my birthday in the most absurd and delightful surprise way I’ve ever had. After a remarkably straightforward, and easy trip through US Customs, a quick and painless security screening, and a window seat on the air plane on a direct flight, we left behind the storm warnings and cloudy days in Toronto and were basking in the sunshine in SFO. It seems we left right in time, because while I was looking forward to having a bit of snow, the storm front that was hitting Toronto wasn’t my idea of a good time. After checking in to our hotel (a mere block away from Millennium) we relaxed, enjoyed the complimentary wine hour at our hotel, and got ready for dinner. Entering the restaurant is always a bit weird because walking through the Tenderloin area of San Francisco with it’s display of overt poverty, addiction, and illness, in an area full of hotels, tourism, and theaters is quite the contrast. It’s also hard for me not to think about the last time I  ate at Millennium and saw a shooting after dinner. It’s an area permanently blended with weird reality of have and have not, and…

Read more

Philly – Vedge Restaurant – One word review: Amazing.

I wasn’t sure we’d manage to visit Vedge Restaurant on this trip. JC was busy doing gaming stuff, and it was not an experience I’d want to have without him.  But luckily, he finished with enough time to spare, and while we couldn’t make a reservation, we managed to snag Vedge’s walk-in table. From the restauranteurs that made (the now closed) Horizons possible, I was excited to try Vedge out as soon as I heard about it. Actually, I had been selling Horizons to JC ever since we decided to go to Philadelphia. “I went to this amazing restaurant” makes it a reasonably easy sell, so when I finally went over to the Horizons website… and saw the “closed” message… there was a moment where my stomach was heartbroken. But thankfully I noticed their new “Vegetable Restaurant” notice. Yes. Vedge. I liked the name, I liked their website design, and the food pictures started up the ol’ salivary glands. I was ready. JC pointed out that they also had a “Dirt List” which had a selection of seasonal vegetable dishes, from vegetables picked locally. Even more exciting! So, did it live up to all this hype and excitement?

Read more

Windsor Arms Vegan Food – In Pictures

We’ve gone to the Windsor Arms (18 Saint Thomas Street – Toronto, Ontario) twice so far, once for brunch a month or so ago, and once for dinner. Brunch was much easier to photograph, unfortunately dinner had a bit too much mood lighting to be conducive to pretty pictures. I think it’s worth going to the Windsor Arms at least once (or twice), if not for the food, then the general dining experience, especially since vegan fine dining experiences can be few and far between depending on where you live. The vegan options at the Windsor arms were developed by Doug McNish, (www.dougmcnish.com) Toronto’s vegan chef extraordinaire. He will soon be releasing a vegan, raw food cookbook called Eat Raw, Eat Well at EcoExistance (766 St. Clair Avenue West at Arlington, Toronto) on Saturday March 31st, go here for more info. I’m looking forward to it, since the title makes me reminisce about the first meal I had from Chef Doug, when he was still at Raw Aura (in Mississauga). Raw lasagna. Yes.

Read more

Vegan at L.A.B – Whatchya going to eat?

Last night we had the opportunity to visit L.A.B Restaurant (651 College St. Toronto) for one of JC’s sibling’s birthdays. It’s been on the To Eat list for a while (ever since Howard Dubrovsky won Vegan Iron Chef at the Vegetarian Food Fair in 2010, but I never got around to it). Looking at the menu at LAB, I have to say I had to wonder… why was this guy even at Vegan Iron Chef. There was lobster and lamb and octopus. And that’s probably why I “never got around to it”. (Though word on the street is he is a vegetarian.) There are a couple of vegetarian things on the menu, and at least one vegan thing. I sent a tweet the day before to @foodcult (the LAB account) asking if there was anything vegan, the response was that the terrine of harvest vegetables, and that the risotto could be veganized. Since I find it nearly impossible to get excited about risotto, the terrine was a predetermined inevitability as soon as I heard about it. I seriously appreciated the quick twitter response, especially since I sent it on a Saturday. The LAB website is also great in that it’s not annoying –…

Read more

Gastronomic Adventures – Fressen and BarChef

It’s been non-stop exciting eating lately. A combination of long workdays, family visiting from out of town, curiosity about new places, and over all, just general laziness has contributed to our recent culinary adventures. I’m aiming to try and work in some home cooking soon. I miss making meals, but once I get home, I’m just… tired. Excuses excuses. I’m lazy, the end. Anyway, we went to Fressen and BarChef last Friday, and collectively it was just wonderful. amazing. and a string of other various positive adjectives. Yesterday we wandered into Fressen (478 Queen Steet W, Toronto) at 6:30 and from what I could tell, were the last non-reservation to sit down. We sat near the door and watched them turn several people away. Lucky us. Like many people, I’ve sort of been meh-fressen lately (where lately = almost a year), but this visit turned that around (at least a little bit.) Our server was friendly. This isn’t exactly a common experience dining in Toronto, so it’s important. Yes. Friendly. We started with very awesome drinks (this may have aided the rest of the meal), vegan Ceasar. Absolutely delicious. Spicy, salty, with a good rim. JC, having had real ceasars before (unlike me)…

Read more