Tuesday, 8 July 2014

bare burger [various locations, nyc]

My first and last nights in NYC saw me dining on food from Bare Burger. After being collected from La Guardia and depositing my belongings, I walked with my hosts to Bare Burger in Astoria, where the staff were friendly and delightful, offering advice, opinions and the ingredients list as required.

We started with two serves of fries: one sweet potato (or "yam", which is often not actually yam), and one of not sweet potato. This is served with a whole lot of sauces, which our waiter kindly replaced with some other options, more vegan, for me.

Bare Burger has a whole lot of options, but both times I've eaten there now I delighted in the Barest of Burgers, which is where you get to pick everything! I went with the wholemeal bun and filled it with this amazing black bean patty, smoke house sauce, avocado, tomato, spinach and mushrooms.

I'm not ashamed to say that tonight, my last night in NYC, we stayed in to do some work and ordered delivery from Bare Burger and I ordered something very, very similar. It was a good nom choice, as they also do gluten-free and were totally lovely. (Also there is vegan cake on the dessert menu)

Bare Burger
33-21 31st Avenue (also has other locations)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

grasslands [toronto]

I know it’s a big call, but breakfast at Grasslands was the best meal I had during my time in Canada, despite the amazing pie at The Wallflower. 

At first we were really only going because it was one of the few places that could cater for vegans and coeliacs and also took bookings. But it was so good. SO. GOOD. 

Having had a big night before (we got back to our accommodation at well after midnight, having consumed many alcohols, spent the day in the sun, and hung out in an indoor hotel pool for many hours), it was with a gentle stride that we navigated our way on public transport to Grasslands, located on Queen Street West. 

We arrived to find a beautiful puppy lying across the doorstep, and I fell upon a lovely coffee. 

I wanted to eat everything on the menu, but in the end went for the Hangover Helper, on the grounds that I was a bit delicate. The Hangover Helper is comprised of scrambled tofu (with mushrooms and daiya cheese), salsa, guacamole, spinach (which I asked to be withheld), toast, chips, salad and watermelon. The tofu was a lovely texture with the daiya adding a slightly cheesy creamyness. The salsa and guacamole added a nice little flavour, and then I added a big of sriracha sauce for a little spice and it was perrrrfect. The salad was bland but a nice addition to the friedness of the rest of it, and finishing it off with three slices of watermelon was just right. 

ALSO AMAZING: the bite of french toast I had; the bite of gluten-free waffle I had, so light and fluffy and, as Dr F said, you couldn't tell it was gf + vegan at all (unlike the pancakes at Fresh, so sad). 

I am disappointed that I didn't get a chance to return to Grasslands. If you get a chance, HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 

478 Queen St W

Stairs to enter and down to the toilets. Payment at the table. CC accepted. Lighting okay but it was daytime.  Get there on the streetcar. Service really helpful and lovely. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

fresh on bloor [toronto]

Being located close to my Toronto accommodation, and being a vegetarian restaurant with a weekend brunch option, we ended up at Fresh on Bloor. Fresh has four locations and makes some really interesting dishes and juices, with a menu I was super in to.

So, after a morning wandering the queer area of downtown Toronto and getting interviewed on Toronto TV re: Pride (during which I admired a unicorn costume as "like being bi, because we don't exist, we're either one or the other" and said "Canadia"), Tris and I wandered down to Fresh and met up with some of the other members of our girl gang. 

Several Australians insisted I order a “bowl” at Fresh, and despite Fi demanding I order the beach bowl, instead I was drawn to the green goddess bowl, with broccoli, tempeh, sunflower seeds and kale and bok choy in tahini and ginger tamari sauce. I ordered the baby size, with udon noodles. It was SO GOOD and the perfect size and I must make it as soon as I get home, I loved the sauce and the beautiful fresh raw broccoli and the sunflower seeds. With warm udon but raw veggies, it was perfect for a humid Toronto afternoon, before we adventured on to the Bata Shoe Museum (also an excellent use of my Toronto time). I also went with the gingersnap power shake, matcha, ginger, strawberry, blueberry, banana, maple syrup and almond milk. It was very unexpected and strong but I loved it.

We noticed a breakfast menu and returned when Fresh opened at 10:30 on Sunday in order to sample it. After the amazing lunch on Friday, followed by a stunning brunch at the vegan Grasslands on Saturday (more on that in another post), I had high hopes. Sadly, it was not able to reach the heights of the previous meals, with my banana nut pancake platter (2 pancakes, tofu scramble, tempeh bacon) a bit average. The pancakes were vegan and gluten free and, as much as it pains me to say it, you could tell; and my coffee was sickly sweet. 

So, Fresh. I would go back for lunch, to eat many of the things on the menu, and also for dinner; but I’d rethink the breakfast. 

326 Bloor Street West

(also other locations)

Toilets down a flight of stairs. Step to enter; tightly packed tables. Ordering and CC/payments at the table. Good lighting.