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Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

Until recently, finding vegan-friendly restaurants outside of Vancouver has been a formidable task.  The only member of The Vegan Project who lives in the suburbs, I’ve had to cross many bridges and tunnels in the hunt for quality, vegan-friendly establishments.  Imagine my delight last week when I discovered ‘Organic Connections‘ on White Rock Beach!  Finally, a solution for veg-heads in the Fraser Valley.  The food is delicious, the ocean views are unbelievable, and their tasteful emphasis on raw, vegan and gluten-free cuisine will soon make them THE stop for vegans in the ‘burbs.

Among the many creations of raw chefs Chantel Roy and Catherine Posta are different types of smoothies, a delicious vegan borscht, raw sushi, and raw chocolate cheesecake with coconut crust.

Raw Veggie Wrap

Since my discovery, I have sampled their borscht (three times!), the collard wraps with chutney, raw blueberry cheesecake, and the yummy veggie wrap (shown).  All have been flavourful and satisfying.  The atmosphere is musical, artistic and casual, and this volunteer-run cafe also offers courses on raw food prep, has couches and comfy chairs, and features what may be the best ocean view in all of White Rock. Thank you, Organic Connections, for helping bring the vegan way to the far corners of the lower mainland!

Organic Connections, located at 15622 Marine Dr. in White Rock, is open Thursday to Saturday, and can be contacted at OrganicConnectionsCafe@gmail.com.

Check out this article for more information:

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/peacearchnews/community/102094238.html

~The Vegan Project

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The Vegan Project recently had the opportunity to try Provence restaurant’s new Meatless Mardi set menu, which we learned will be featured every Tuesday at the restaurant’s two locations – Provence Marinaside at the end of Davie Street in Yaletown, and Provence Mediterranean Grill at 4473 West 10th in Point Grey.  The menu will change from week to week, depending on availability of local ingredients.

Chef and Proprietor, Alessandra Quaglia, was intrigued by the challenge of creating a healthier menu that would also be more eco-friendly after realizing the effect of emissions from animal processing plants far outweighs that of cars, in addition to noticing a growing trend among peers and customers toward meatless dining options.

“Vegetarians have been saying it for so long and I think its time we really listen. I’m actually making it my own personal challenge to cut out meat starting two days a week, working up to five days. I’ll still need my meat fix on the other two days! Meatless Mardi is our way of providing those who want to go meatless with a tasty, interesting alternative,” Alessandra said.

The menu is three vegetarian courses, which can be modified slightly for vegan folks, and costs $25 per person.  Guests can also opt for the accompanying wine flight – two ounces each for the first two courses and a one ounce dessert wine – for an additional $15.

First Course

Fennel Carpaccio with Fennel Seed and Lemon Marinated Carrots and Chickpea Crouton

First Course - Fennel Carpaccio

This course was flavourful and fresh, with the fennel, lemon, and drizzle of balsamic mingling nicely in our mouths.  We were a little upset that there wasn’t more of the amazing chickpea crouton (pictured on top), because it was perhaps the most delicious rendition of hummus we’ve ever tasted (and we’re self-proclaimed experts).

Second Course

House Made Open Ravioli with Artichokes and Tomato Pesto Coulis

Second Course - House Made Ravioli

This course was as flavourful as the first, and featured a sprinkling of vegan Daiya cheese (the vegetarian version has goat cheese).  It’s always a treat to get vegan house made pasta and this one was excellent.  We could taste the spinach flavour, which is often lost in other spinach based pastas.

Third Course

Pear Tart with Chocolate Soy Gelato

Third Course - Pear Tart

This generous dessert left our bellies full after our meal.  Alessandra managed to make a wonderful vegan pastry, which is quite a challenge for anyone, let alone someone new to vegan dessert making.  The soy gelato was equally delightful.

It’s always a treat to find new vegan dining options in Vancouver, and to see some of the finer restaurants in the city embracing the growing demand for meatless dining options.  The service was excellent and we were impressed by Alessandra’s eagerness to dive in and explore the world of vegetarian and vegan cooking.  Aside from the Meatless Mardi menu, both Provence locations offer many meatless dining options, such as their popular antipasti selections.

We’re excited to try some of the other menus they come up with in the coming Meatless Mardis, and at only $25 for three courses, there’s no excuse not to go back for more!

Thanks Alessandra and the team at Provence!

Provence Chef/Proprietor Alessandra Quaglia and The Vegan Project

~The Vegan Project

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Let me start off by saying that while this review may not be glowing, it will not slam, nor be unkind.  I will describe my experience at Cafe Deux Soleils as unbiasedly as I can, and of course with a sense of humour.

After doing a 6am Bikram’s Yoga class this morning I strolled down The Drive, marveling at how little is open at 8 in the morning.  This didn’t matter, though, because I was headed to Cafe Deux Soleils (which I knew would be open) for their tasty tofu scramble I’d enjoyed several times before.

I arrived at their door at 8:19 to a sign that read “Not open till 8:30, Sorry”.  I peeked in and noticed a couple of employees behind the counter doing their thing, so I opened my book and waited.  At 8:27am I put my face up to the glass door and caught the eye of one of the staff.  She looked at her phone, then back at me, shrugged and mouthed, ‘Sorry’.  Yes, I rolled my eyes at this, but if they must be sticklers then they must.

Two minutes later, the same employee opened the door for me, without even making eye contact, while shoving the large stone door stop across the floor with her foot and slamming it into the door.  I went right up to the counter, ready to order with my money out.  The cook then had to alert the other staff member (that just let me in) of my presence.

Listen, I thought, I hate your job, too, and don’t work early mornings for this very reason!  You work in the SERVICE industry.  You are not allowed to be cranky!  Just because  you work on Commercial Drive, where there is a general complacency toward good service (other guilty establishments shall remain nameless for now) does not give you the right to be miserable in my presence.  I’m sorry if my eagerness to spend money at your business bothers you, but slap on a smile and do your job!

I then proceeded to ask if they put butter on the toast.  She informed me that no, it’s margarine.  I ask if it’s vegan, she doesn’t know, but thinks so.

Sigh.

I asked if she could check the container or ask the cook.  Perfect – it’s vegan.  I drop a lonely loonie into her tip jar and take a seat.  The meal comes rather quickly and is plunked down on my table.  I did not take a picture because it honestly wasn’t much to look at, but, as usual, it was tasty (aside from the short black hair in the hash browns, which I removed and turned a blind eye to, after deciding not to deal with that one).

I finished up, grabbed my things and departed with a faint ‘have a nice day” from the cook.

I’m not recommending that you don’t go to this restaurant. In fact, I’ll probably go back for their tofu scramble and the neat spoken word events they often hold.  Just take this as a warning to beware of the surly counter staff in the mornings 😉

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Hidden away at the northern tip of Commercial Drive on Powell, The Perch, aka ‘The Perch at the Arc Cafe’, is a cute little vegan-friendly restaurant that also caters to vegetarian, gluten-free and omnivorous diets. We recently discovered The Perch after connecting with some great vegan gals through our twitter page (check out their awesome vegan blog Vegan Mischief).

The Perch at The Arc Cafe

We arrived at The Perch on a windy evening for a dinner meeting with our graphic designer pal Jesse James and had one of the best pizza experiences of our lives, vegan or not.  I’m a huge fan of fresh, snappy greens on a pizza (try it, it’s amazing!), and The Perch’s yam, garlic, arugula and cashew pizza with Daiya cheese was no exception.  The hearty, thin crust was the perfect platform for the roasted yams, garlic, sprinkling of cashews, Daiya and generous amount of leafy arugula.  We tried our best to finish the 16 inch pizza, but stuffed ourselves to the point of leftovers (bonus).

The Perch's yam, garlic, arugula and cashew vegan pizza

We also tried the hummus and eggplant dip with pesto flatbread and the vegan caesar salad.  Jesse really enjoyed his white wine spritzer.  We topped it all off with some of their chocolate cake and a chocolate cookie.  YUM!

The Perch's Hummus and Pesto Flatbread

The decor is quaint with twinkling strings of lights strewn sparingly.  It seems almost as though the restaurant itself is shaped like a branch.  We had hoped to sit upstairs but it was already full and the bar was also full.  Good to see it was busy!

We definitely want to return to The Perch to try a sandwich and some other yummy looking things on the menu, including the tofu scramble (they serve all day breakfast!)

The Perch

9am-9pm Monday-Friday

1701 Powell Street

Vancouver

604-568-3877

Twitter: www.twitter.com/eatdrinkperch

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One of our favourite local, vegan-friendly Vancouver restaurants – The Refinery – has been running weekly events centered around pairing specific spirits with different world cuisines each month.  To our delight, the theme for the month of September just happens to be India vs. Bombay Sapphire Gin – and has a completely vegan option!  The event is held every Thursday, and involves three courses paired with three innovative cocktails.  At only $32 per person – it’s an amazing deal!  Especially for the caliber of food and drinks created by people who are truly passionate about what they do.  Each Thursday, a different superstar Vancouver bartender (from the likes of The Keefer, Shangri-La, West, and more) creates India-inspired cocktails to pair with the food and guests are invited to rate their experience.

The Refinery

As you may know, one of the most frustrating things about being a food lover and a vegan is that there is a serious lack of finer dining experiences to be had.  Not that there’s anything wrong with casual vegan dining, but it’s nice to have the option to get a bit fancier once in a while.  The Refinery recently added vegan items to their regular menu, inspired by bar manager Lauren Mote who has been experimenting with a vegan/raw lifestyle for several months, and The Vegan Project is delighted to add them to our repertoire as a finer vegan dining option.

The Menu

Chef:  Ben De Champlain

Mixologist:  Lauren Mote

First Course

Food: Onion and Lentil Fritters with Grilled Pineapple and Tamarind Chutney

Drink: A Split Pea Gin Cocktail

Onion and Lentil Fritters and The Split Pea Gin Cocktail

Yes, that’s right!  Split pea!  Lauren Mote is known for being rather adventurous with her cocktails and this was a perfect example.  It didn’t taste exactly like split peas, but had an earthy, creamy texture that had a bit of spark at the end.  It paired well with the fritters, which were like dense little pakoras with a falafel-like texture.  The chutney was perfectly done and added a nice fruity sweet counter balance to the fritter spices.

Second Course

Food:  Indian Spice Roasted Tomato Soup with Lentils, Black Chickpeas, Spinach and Fennel (the non-vegan option comes with gin-infused paneer)

Cocktail:  A Chantrelle Mushroom Infused Gin Cocktail

Indian Spice Roasted Tomato Soup and The Chantrelle Mushroom Gin Cocktail

Ben explained that the soup used a combination of around 17 ingredients and would be unapologetically spicy.  I’m a fan of spicy food but I’m certainly not a fan of the type of spice that overpowers flavour.  This soup was more like an Indian stew and the spice was perfectly balanced with the complex flavours.   The soup paired fabulously with the Chantrelle Mushroom Cocktail which also included one of my favourite ingredients – Punt E Mes sweet vermouth.  Again, this course paired spicy and sweet very well.  And again, the cocktail did not taste explicitly like mushrooms, but had a nice earthy flavour that went well with the sweet vermouth.

Third Course

Food:  Cashew Coconut Curry with Potatoes and Cauliflower with a Green Bean and Fresh Herb Salad

Cocktail:  Gin Cocktail with Mustard Seed, Tahini, Coconut Milk, Lemon Juice, Makers Mark and Lillet

Cashew Coconut Curry with The Mustard Seed Gin Cocktail

This last combination was my favourite – the curry was quite delicate and the herbs and toasted coconut on top were a perfectly crisp and refreshing accompaniment.  The cocktail was rich, foamy and aromatic.  Some thought the cocktail was too overpowering in this pairing and chose the second combination as their favourite, but I loved it.

Overall, The Refinery’s Cocktail Kitchen was a fun and delicious experience and I gave the fabulous Miss Lauren Mote 5’s across the board!  Bridget has yet to try The Cocktail Kitchen experience so we’ll be going back this month.  If you’re interested in trying it, we recommend booking now because spots are filling up fast.  Competitor details can be found here.  Book your reservation by calling 604.687.8001.

The Cocktail Kitchen Bartender Competition Series

The Refinery

1115 Granville Street, Vancouver

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Bandidas Taqueria has been a favourite of The Vegan Project for a while now, so we figured it was time to let you guys in on one of the best places in Vancouver to find a hearty vegan brunch.

Located near the corner of Commercial Drive and 12th in Vancouver, Bandidas is a quaint little Mexican restaurant that serves tacos (on yummy house made corn tortillas), burritos, tortilla soup, and delicious brunch items including bennies served on corn muffins.

One of the other rad things about Bandidas aside from their numerous vegan brunch, lunch, and dinner options (they have non-vegan stuff, too), is the fact that they’re licensed, so naturally we ordered mimosas with our brunches.

Bridget chose the Breakfast Burrito (the vegan option has butternut squash and tofu instead of eggs) for $7, adding guacamole for $1.  The burrito is HUGE (see pic) and stuffed with pinto beans, fresh salsa, Daiya cheese, and their house made vegan sour cream, so she opted not to add the side of hash and cabbage salad (they added the veggie bacon by mistake).

Bandidas Breakfast Burrito

Jessica ordered Alan’s Breakfast, $11, and added some veggie breakfast sausage for $2, and opted for the butternut squash/tofu combo instead of eggs on top.  It’s basically a Mexican salad served with two corn tortillas for stuffing at your leisure. It was delicious but quite a lot of food, so ordering that side of potatoes was not the best idea.

Bandidas Alan's Breakfast with Veggie Sausage

Aside from a few service hiccups (forgetting guacamole and adding extra veg bacon) we were extremely satisfied with our brunch at Bandidas and will continue to recommend it to our fellow vegan (and non-vegan) brunch connoisseurs.

Another thing we like about Bandidas is their commitment to sustainability.  They only offer local beer and wine, use compostable to-go packaging, and are completely car-free, meaning that they use bikes and a cargo trailer to transport supplies.  We also noticed a sign on their door saying that the staff would soon be taking a 90% bike powered trip together.  Neat!

Bandidas Taqueria

2781 Commercial Drive

Vancouver

Brunch daily til 3pm

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Tucked around the corner from the bustling corner of Robson and Granville is a darling Japanese restaurant that serves one of my favourite dishes in the city.  The place is Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro, self-described as celebrating ‘traditional Japanese dining created with a contemporary flare by Master Chef Masahiro Omori’.

Master Chef? I like the sound of that!  And what is this favourite dish created by Master Chef Omori?  A Big Salad!  I know, so Elaine*, right? But this Tofu and Avocado Salad is simply delicious and I must have it every time I go. For $8.50, it is generous and oh so scrumptious.  It is served on a large round platter with tofu, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and nori flakes piled in the centre of a ring of fresh mesclun greens, avocado slices and colourful diced peppers.  Their signature sesame dressing drizzled on top.  This salad looks and tastes divine and pairs so nicely with a flight of fruit-infused sakes.

A trio of 1 ounze portions for $12 selected from the following: You’s Time Ginjo, Moonstone Asian Pear Ginjo, Eikoh Plum Wine, Nigori Ume shu –Cloudy Plum Wine, or Choya Plum Wine.  I can’t remember what flavours I tried, but they were really tasty!

Really friendly staff and a heated patio right in the middle of the action make this a great place to go with friends or alone, like I did, and sip your sake and watch the world go by after a long day…

*A Seinfeld reference

Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro

833 Granville Street, Vancouver

Tel: 604-687-6622

Email: info@shuraku.net

~The Vegan Project

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