Tag Archives: Review

PB Eats… Vegan Toronto

So apparently the week I was in Toronto was a great week – weather wise.  I agree, all I could see were blue, cloudless skies from the meeting room where I spent 11 hours a day for the week.  Yep, Toronto for work, but I did have about 12 hours free before flying back where I did take full advantage of the sunshine, and to check out the plentiful vegan scene.  Lunches were all at work, and I had told my colleagues about my food needs – and I was pleasantly surprised.  Roasted veggie wraps, cous cous with curry, pasta, salads – all good.  As for my other meals, during the week they had to be near the hotel and quick.  A combination of a cold and jet lag meant that once we finished, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep.

There was a mall about 5 minutes from the office, and amongst all the places, I found 2 – Urban Herbivore and Thai Express.  Having had cold sandwiches for lunch, I didn’t want the same for dinner – and that is exactly what Urban Herbivore did, however good they looked, I didn’t try them out.  Thai Express had an option for a vegan pad thai – which I had a couple of times in the week. Spicy, delicious and comforting – exactly what I needed.  Where else did I eat?

Planta Burger

I found out (thank you Happy Cow) about a vegan burger joint that had opened up a few months ago, literally across from the hotel.  I was so excited!  So Day 1, I went to Planta Burger to order my takeaway.  They had 4 options, and if I see buffalo cauliflower on any menu, I’m ordering it.  I will not lie, I had visions of the burger I had in New York at Blossom Du Jour.  At Planta Burger, I ordered the spicy buffalo cauliflower burger with ranch, pickles, red onion, iceberg and tomato.  I also got a side of the caesar salad.  YES. vegan caesar salad.  Whoo!  I was very excited and so looking forward to eating this.  The salad – very excellent. Creamy and crunchy with meaty mushrooms and killer pickled onions, this was good.  As for the burger – a sheer disappointment.  The bread was hard, the patty almost burnt and too small for the bun, with NO flavour.  It was just very dull.

I’m all for second chances, so the next night I went back to try another burger.  I picked the crab cake, with heart of palm and tartar sauce, and a side of the BBQ fries.  The fries = tick.  Very nice, very moreish and crunchy.  But the burger? Yes. Again. Horrible.  It looked like the burger from the night before.  Tiny almost burnt patty, tasteless and grim.  The only redeeming factor, the tartar sauce which tasted like the real thing.

2/2 terrible burgers is not good in my book, I wouldn’t go back for the burgers – maybe if you forced me, I’d get the casear salad, but that is it.  Nothing else.  There is a Planta restaurant too, but I didn’t want to risk trying it if it turned out to be just as grim as the burger joint.

Mill Street Brewery

For our team dinner, we went to the Distillery District, to the Mill Street Brewery.  I really like this area, the last time I was here it was in the middle of winter, and it was just as magical in the summer.  There were a few veganisable options on the menu – and they were very accommodating too.  This being a brewery and my interest in beer increasing over the years, P and I decided to split a beer flight – 4 tiny beers, 2 for him, 2 for me.  I went for the organic original lager and an organic amber lager.  Very impressed and very smooth.  The also went down a bit too quickly 🙂  For my main, I went for a falafel salad – without the falafel as it was made with eggs.  But the creamy dressing was vegan, and when in doubt, always ask for avocado, which is what I did.  I got a giant portion full of beans, chickpeas, rocket, sunflower seeds, clementine segments, avocado.  So tasty and filling, I could only get through half of it.  I did finish all the avocado though!

Fresh on Bloor

I’m a firm believer in balance – every grim meal means that there is a superb meal waiting for me to enjoy.  And enjoy I did at Fresh. This is a chain of restaurants scattered around downtown.  It was heaving when I got there around 7pm, and I only had to wait for 10 minutes for a table.  Everyone there was SO friendly and chilled, I really liked the atmosphere.  You get a big bottle of water when you sit down, and a MASSIVE vegan menu.  I’m not used to this much choice!! I wanted a burger mainly because of the crap ones I’d had earlier in the week.  I went for the chipotle bacon burger – chipotle, tempeh, jicama – yum yum.  And then I saw ‘dragon fries’ on the menu as a ‘side’ option.  It read “french fries, miso gravy, hot banana chilies, green onions, sesame seeds and chili oil” How could I say no!

The burger was great – a giant of a burger, with generous fixings and a nice chunky patty.  Most enjoyable.  BUT THOSE DRAGON FRIES.  If you live in Toronto, go here NOW.  I will say it – hands down the best vegan thing i have tried.  Hot, crispy fries, umami popping miso gravy, a punch from the spring onions, a super punch from the chillies – OMG.  Stunningly, amazingly, perfectly delicious, perfectly LUSCIOUS.  I went here on my last night. It will be my death row meal – I loved them that much!!  But for now, if I do go back to Toronto, this is the first place I will go to.   Straight off the plane.  YUM!!!

King’s Cafe

I had the morning off to wander around the streets of Toronto, and what a time to be there.  The Invictus Games were starting that evening, so the place was buzzing.  I walked around Kensington Market, or what I call the Camden Market of Toronto.  I loved this place, full of quirky shops, delis, restaurants and cafes.

I came across Bunner’s – an all vegan bakery full of yummy looking stuff.  Since I was flying later I didn’t have the liberty of buying the selection I wanted to (one of each), so I settled for the apple butterscotch crumble tart and I bought a brownie for later.   The tart was sweet, apple-y, full of texture and super good.  I loved it. I didn’t take a pic of the brownie which I had on the place with a cup of tea on the plane – JUST AS GOOD.

Washed down with an almost perfect iced coffee with almond milk (whooo!) from Jimmy’s, it was the perfect mid morning treat.

So onto Kings Cafe – which made me very happy.  Another all vegetarian/vegan place, I just wanted a few dim sums to keep me going.  Once again, this was a Happy Cow find.  What did I order? Curry puffs, veggie dumplings and my favourite – sticky rice.

I am pleased to say this meal hit the spot.  The curry puffs were crispy and stuffed with this fragrant potato mixture – yum.  The dumplings were stuffed with veggies and herbs – excellent. And that rice. With that chilli sauce – oh man. Super good.  I would definitely come back here to try more dishes.  Suitably stuffed, I headed to the airport. The plan was to have dinner in the lounge and knock out on the plane.  There were very few vegan options – everything had cheese or a yoghurt dressing. I helped myself to a cucumber salad and got them to pimp a fajita for me – roasted veggies and salsa.  It was enough to fill my belly.

All in all, I would have loved to spend more time in Toronto, so hopefully I’ll get to go out there soon – lots of things to do and lots and lots of vegan food to eat!

PB Eats… Yauatcha

I am enjoying being back home, making the most of the free time I have, and eating obviously.  I met up with L for dinner at what has become my favourite place for dim sum – Yauatcha – I prefer going to the branch in the city.  Over the years, I have experimented with what I can eat, what I want to eat, what I should be eating, and Yauatcha has always graciously supported my preferences.  L managed to wrangle the current bookatable £29 deal – 9 courses (including dessert) and a cocktail.   Yay! The table was already set with the usual fare – vinegary cucumber (yummo), and two chilli sauces, top right con fish, bottom right sin fish.

Our cocktail arrived – a cherry chaser with brandy, cherries, orange and a few..erm.. other things – yep, I can’t remember.  Surprisingly refreshing and not very alcoholic given all that ice.

So the set menu has the following yummy nibbles – Har Gau, Crystal Dumpling Wrap (ve), Baked Venison Puff, Mushroom Spring Roll (ve), Shui Mai, Black Pepper dumpling, Prawn Cheung Fun and a lotus leaf sticky rice.  Phew.  Obviously most of the stuff was off limits for me, but they had alternatives, as expected.  I got more taro (2 to be exact) and veggie dumplings (1 fried and 1 steamed) and a mushroom cheung fun.  The fried dim sum were very tasty – as were the steamed.

We also got a cheung fun each – soft, yielding and very delicious.  At first glance, you may think this is not a lot of food, but it was just the right amount.  Every dim sum was well made and flavourful, I can’t choose a favourite.  Ok. I can – the orange dumpling, it’s always been you.  It contains pine nuts – not an expected ingredient but what an ingenious addition! The mushroom spring roll with a hint of truffle comes a close second.  My dishes on the top, L’s in the middle.

PB Travels… Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is a tiny island off the coast of Belize – and my destination for the next three days.  I knew from the minute I stepped on the island, I would be completely chilled. The island vibe is so palpable, you can’t help yourself – you just want to chill..

Where am I staying? 

Caye Caulker Plaza hotel is in a great location – 5 minutes from the water taxi, and well, 5 minutes from anywhere you need to be. But then again, who is counting minutes? Not I!

The rooms were ginormous – I had two double beds in mine, and a balcony too! The bathroom however was a different story. Rusty taps, a bit mouldy – not nice

Ratings?

  • Grubbiness factor = medium, primarily because of the shower. Also, their cleaning products were cloying and over scented – did not appreciate that!
  • Bed = 6/10. Comfy, but when you have a bed with wheels that moves every time you turn, there is a problem!
  • Shower = 2/10, and that is only because the water was hot.

What did I eat?

What I loved about eating here was that all restaurants were either open air or had outdoor seating – and why not! The weather was perfect for it! Dinner on the first night was at Maggie’s Sunset Kitchen. I chose a Rum Punch – yah man! This is definitely an island drink!!

There was one dish that stood out for me – the veggie coconut curry with coconut rice. There was also plantain, which doubled up as dessert as it was hot, sweet and nicely caramelised.  It was super tasty – well cooked veggies, flavourful sauce, and I’ll tell you one thing – these guys know how to make killer coconut rice! DELISH!  Other options – jerk chicken, which went down just as well.

Other dinners were at Rose’s Grill and Bar, down the road from the hotel.  This place specialised, like so many other restaurants, in seafood.  The girls I was with could actually pick and chose the poor lobster that would become their meal!

I went for a veggie kebab, with cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes and pineapple. It came with roast potatoes (yum), salad (yum), watermelon and pineapple purée (hmmm). Veggies were still beautifully crunchy but a bit bland.   Obviously had to pimp them with some habanero sauce.  Everyone oooh-ed and aaah-ed over their lobster.

Last night was at Enjoy Restaurant, I went for the jerk vegetables with rice.  This meal was hot, tasty, chilli, flavourful and so so delicious, I ate the whole thing and I could have done it again! And again.

Lunches were either sandwiches from ‘sub-away’ (same concept) or when we went out snorkelling for the day – a fruit platter and rice and beans.  Not just rice and beans, but with a selection of chilli sauces! No guessing my reaction and subsequent mood!!

Ending with breakfast – we had them in the same place – Amor Y cafe. Yummy and delicious – they hit the spot!

The coffee was lovely here – and I loved the fact that they used coffee ice cubes so the flavour of coffee wasn’t diluted!

What did I do?

NOTHING! Haha. Chilled, relaxed, walked around the island – it isn’t that big – and took in the scenery and enjoyed

We did go snorkelling with Amado (USD95, including lunch, drinks, all equipment) – I strongly recommend looking him up. We went out on a sailboat, unlike other companies that use power boats. He was also very eco friendly – considering the sea (not feeding sharks like other tour operators), environment (using reusable crockery/cutlery).

Obviously no underwater shots, but we saw nurse sharks, barracuda, snapper, grouper, names of fish I don’t know, turtles, and coral. Loved loved loved loved the whole experience.  I loved loved loved the island too – hotel could have been better but in hindsight I spent no time in the room.  Next stop = Mexico! Arriba Arriba! Back to the Spanish – I’ve taken a break since everyone in Belize speaks English or Creole with the coolest accent!!