Live Organic Food Bar (long)
Last night a group of us decided to eat healthy and try Live Organic Food Bar (264 Dupont St, just east of Spadina Rd.)
Please keep in mind that I am a fallen vegetarian, while I do eat meat when I know it will be a religious experience (or bacon is involved), I try to keep myself on the right track and a new vegetarian restaurant in Toronto is a welcome sight...
We got there relatively early and the place had a few diners in the back by the juice bar. It was noted by myself and others that their liquor license is still pending, however this did not spoil the enjoyment of the evening for most of our group. Although a nice glass of wine with our meals would have been nice.
The menu consists of vegan dishes, with a good portion of it dedicated to raw food.
The setting is bright clean and modern with a nice faux-grass laminate floor. When you enter in the restaurant, you see the dessert counter and take home goods. Tables and chairs are hard metal but the booth along the right hand side is comfortable.
I started with a 1oz shot of their T3 Live juice (a kind of green algae which provides a burst of energy and vitamins - those who drink wheatgrass juice may recognize this). The T3 is smoother than wheatgrass but could still be called an acquired taste...
After the initial hesitation over what to order (most of our group is carniverous), we all got down into the veggie swing of things, ordering juices, smoothies and our meals.
All juices are available in 7oz ($3.50) and 14ox ($5.50) versions, vitamin and protein boosts are available as well. Smoothies come in 14oz size only, are made with either soy, rice, almond or hemp milk and range from $5.50 to $6.00.
The hits of the evening were the "Love" juice (a mixture of fruits, including the allegedly aphrodisiac strawberry) and the "Chocolate Seduction" smoothie (Cacao and almond milk, sweetened with dates and figs).
As everything is made fresh to order, it took some time for the juice and smoothy orders to come, but there were jugs of lemon water and glasses on the tables to wet our whistles while we pondered the meatless fare.
Keep in mind that the menu is changed every two weeks depending on what ingredients are available and fresh.
Dishes from the "hot" (cooked) menu included a potato and bean soup, a moroccan-type stew with beans, tomatoes and brown rice, as well as a miso-soup.
Dishes from the raw menu included "Elvis Lives Here" - a walnut butter and banana "sandwich" on a sprout bagel, "Squaghetti Alfredo" - squash spaghetti with an "alfredo" sauce made with nuts, Pizza puttanesca and a nut hummus with cracker. The true hit of the night was the raw sampler platter - a serving of all four entrees with a fresh salad for $13.50.
I opted for the raw sampler combo and was nicely surprised by the serving size.
The ample mixed organic green salad was topped with a nice ginger dressing and surrounded by the four entree items. The mixed greens included the standard "organic baby green" mix topped with a number of sprouts. The dressing was not oily and subtly flavoured the salad. It was a bit bland in taste but was quickly remedied with a nice sprinkling of sea salt (provided in shakers on the tables).
I started with the "Elvis Lives Here" a half a sprout "bagel" topped with walnut butter and banana preserve and sprouts. A rather alarming shade of brown but definitly tasted like a good walnut butter, banana sandwich. Definitely not your standard nut and fruit combination.
Next on my hit list was the hummus, which was made of various nuts including cashews and served with a crisp wafer (I forget what it was). Surprisingly, this hummus tasted like a really good tuna salad made with fresh cooked tuna and homemade aioli. A truly welcomed delight and it was one of the surprising highlights of the meal.
This was followed by the squaghetti Alfredo. An ice cream scoop sized ball of shredded squash mated with a garlicky nut paste. Topped with a sundried tomato sliver. Ho hum, but nice.
The final item of the platter was the pizza puttanesca. Another sprout crisp (again not baked), topped with sundried tomatoes, "roasted" red peppers, crimini mushrooms and olives. A nice strongly flavoured and briny end to the main course.
The other item that was popular was the Ayurdevedic Stew, which was a Moroccan-Spiced stew of chickpeas and tomatoes, served with brown rice. The stew was nicely spiced and tasty, however the rice seemed over-cooked and really sticky and glutinous... However everyone raved about the flavours.
Dessert had a choice of Chocolate Torte, Walnut Apricot Tart and Carrot Cake. Live also has a selection of organic free trade coffees and teas as well.
The chocolate torte was a dense, rich chocolate ganache (almost like eating the filling of a truffle). Not too sweet but rich and filling. Many who ordered this took some of the leftovers home for happy noshing later that evening.
The Carrot Cake was very carroty and had a nice "cream cheese" icing.
After everybody resigned themselves to a meat-free meal, it was an enjoyable night. Dinner came to approximately $34.00 a person, including drinks, tax and tip.
I was wondering what the talk about of "new" restaurant was when I started reading that. Only to realize it was from 2005! I have been probably a dozen times since it opened for brunch, lunch, dinner, etc... I have enjoyed my meals there but it isn't a place that I would go very often just because it is a little on the pricey side of things. In the winter, I prefer a nice cooked meal as well (I have never had their slightly cooked meals at Live). Of the raw places in Toronto I would say Live is still the best. I am not a vegetarian but I like variety of different tastes/flavours. I would have thought there would be other reviews on here of this place that were more recent.
They have a really nice patio in the summer as well.
Worth checking out for sure.