Eating at my favourite vegetarian cafe never gets old, especially when I’m greeted by new vegetarian and vegan eats each and every time I go. Thus far, I’ve featured the lasagna, ravioli, curry risotto, stuffed peppers, watercress salad with green beans and chickpeas, breaded eggplant panini sandwich, quinoa salad with cabbage, tomatoes, and parsley, cous cous salad with zucchini and kale, and the ultra special vegan banana cream pie and vegan coconut lime cream tart! I have to admit, that’s a lot of food. Those dishes could form an entire menu all on their own!
Even though this post marks my 8th Mela Cafe post on the blog (and even though I’ve ate my weight in Italian vegetarian and vegan delights), I’ve barely scratched off a quarter of Mela’s Italian, comfort food menu. For starters, I’ve never had any of Roberto’s soup. For another, the vegan banana cream pie and coconut lime cream tart are the only desserts I’ve had and I know there is plenty of delicious vegan sugar just waiting to be unearthed for me. Finally, there are always two or three new mains and/or salads listed on the chalkboard menu that I’ve never seen before, which just fuels my fire to try every dish even more!
What’s on the menu this time around? A huge portion of vegan lentil pie bathed in stewed plum tomatoes, chickpeas, shredded red cabbage, and chopped swiss chard! Aside from the mouthwatering food and sweet company, one of the best things about Mela is its ability to make me stuff my face with specific vegetables I don’t even like! Cauliflower and cabbage are two of my least favourite vegetables and it’s only been recently (re: Luscious Dips’ edible cabbage and veggie hummus bowls at the Lunchtime Office Markets) that I’ve started warming up to the purplish veggie. While my mum and brother gorge on coleslaw, I usually opt for something else. And between cauliflower and broccoli, there’s never a contest. Cauliflower’s green cousin wins the coveted “I get to be eaten by Deb” title every time. But lo and behold, I’m scarfing down a stuffed pepper with cauliflower in it and around it (in soup form) and a giant wedge of lentil pie literally dressed in shredded cabbage.
And it was divine. The textures were all over the place with the raw, crunchy vegetables on top, the smooth and savoury lentil mash in the middle, and the saucy vegetable purees at the bottom. It was incredibly filling and hearty (I rolled out of the cafe afterward) and it was like eating extra special mashed potatoes, only they were even more special because they were mashed lentils! The cabbage and vegetable puree sauce kept the lentil pie from being too starchy and the fresh raw vegetables and chickpeas lightened the entire dish. It was beautiful to look at (how often do we eat purple food?!), beautiful to eat, and an absolute joy to eat in the company of a new friend I made on this particular day who just happened to order the same thing I did! Who knew lentil pie could form a friendship?
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.