Even though these photos were taken a few months ago, these photos tell the story of a meal that was very memorable and pretty special. I stumbled upon Mela Cafe in Yorkville last September and after raving on and on about it to my mum and brother, I finally took them with me this past May and it was a vegetarian Italian feast to remember! They met Roberto and a few of the other girls, and my friend and fellow Mela lover, Jennie. It was such a great meal full of amazing food and great company and I’m so glad my mum and brother were finally able to see (and taste!) what I loved so much.
Since it was my mum and brother’s first time here, I wanted a mix of new dishes and old-time favourite so we ordered four dishes to share among the three of us: the vegetarian lasagna with layers of broccoli, cabbage, basil, and ricotta, covered in piping hot tomato sauce; the crunchy eggplant and basil panini sandwich; the to-die for ravioli made with fresh ricotta and parsley, bathing in their signature tomato sauce; and a plate of bright and crunchy quinoa salad! I find that coming here with one or two others makes eating reeeeally fun because often times there are multiple things I want to try (and I can guarantee you that you’d feel the same way after coming here) and sharing a few dishes means everyone gets to try some of everything. To me, the ideal dining situation is for two people to order three dishes.
Ever since I had Mela’s watercress spring salad with its crunchy green beans, chickpeas, and fruity olive oil dressing, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the desire to eat each and every single salad Roberto dishes up each time I go. I know it’s a business and I know new menu items keep customers coming back, but I’m still amazed at how many different vegetarian and vegan dishes Mela Cafe doles out every day. They started baking and serving delicious vegan desserts on a regular basis earlier in the year (remember the amazing mini vegan banana cream pies?), and during my past few visits, I’ve noticed new dishes such as stuffed portobellos and giant stuffed bell peppers with brown rice and vegetables.
Obviously I’m not there every day (part of me wishes I was), but every time I do pay Mela a visit, there are always several dishes that are completely new to me and I find myself feeling like I’m on a perpetual hamster wheel, attempting to keep up. I don’t mind at all though because it means there will always going to be something new to look forward to along with reliable everyday favourites.
The salad for that day was the quinoa salad dressed in their delicious olive oil with fluffy quinoa, crunchy cabbage, juicy tomatoes, green beans, shredded kale, and lots of parsley! The salad was so crunchy and juicy from the chunks of cabbage and tomatoes and I can’t sing enough praises about the olive oil. You will never want to eat a salad any other way after eating a salad from here. Roberto always incorporates lots of vegtables, grains, and proteins with different textures and colours, really showing the breadth of vegetarian and vegan cooking. His salads are the perfect example of how they can function as a main dish and how salads don’t have to fall into that awful “lettuce and tomato” stereotype and rut.
A fresh batch of homemade vegan coconut lime cream tarts ($4) finished the meal off. These tarts were out of this world. Even though my best friend and I loooove their mini vegan banana cream pies to death, these coconut lime tarts were wonderful too. The cake was so moist and zingy and the coconut cream was light and airy with a generous sprinkling of toasted coconut on top. The tarts had this amazing lightness to them with subtle hints of ginger flavour. After you eat these creamy tarts, your mouth feels cool and fresh all over and its unlike any coconut dessert I’ve ever had. They’re not too sweet in the least but you get that decadence from the whipped coconut cream and soft cake. Roberto’s lovely lady vegan baker is responsible for Mela’s sweet eats and on any given day, you’ll see either tarts, pies, muffins, and other individual desserts.
I am craving Mela’s ravioli like nobody’s business right now and I’m really hoping I can make my way over to Yorkville sometime this week to get my fix! With my love for their salads and my desire to try so many other dishes of theirs, I can’t even promise myself that I won’t waver and change my mind when I’m there. I think it’s time for another visit 😉
Mela Café is located at 7 Yorkville Ave., north of Cumberland St. and just west of Yonge St. All dishes are either vegetarian or vegan and prices range from $4-$8.50. They are primarily a lunch cafe during the week, open until around 4:30pm-5pm from Monday to Friday, and with later closing hours on Saturday. They are closed on Sunday.
Scrapbooking materials used: to be added!