I honestly can’t tell you how I found out about Sage. For a girl who prides herself on having a good memory, this bothers me. I don’t remember if I happened to find it through a random Google search for vegetarian sandwiches in the city or if I happened to learn about the downtown cafe through another site. But I will tell you this: when I found out they served an abundance of vegetarian meals including a whole list of whole wheat pita wraps with vegetarian ingredients, I pumped my fist in the air and went, “YES! PAY DIRT!” 😀 Especially considering it’s located in an area that’s actually rather central in the downtown core but unknown to many of my friends.
Sage is located near the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) on McCaul St., just off of Elm St. For whatever reason, this area seems to be a black hole for many people I know, including myself prior to this year! The black hole seems to spread between Elm, Baldwin, or McCaul (or any combination of the three), and when I’m in these areas with friends, it’s very amusing to hear my them say, “I have no idea where we are!” Have no fear, I am your food compass 😀
Much like Futures Bakery in the Annex, Sage’s menu isn’t wholly vegetarian. They do, however, have MANY vegetarian options though, which makes it a great lunch spot for both vegetarians and carnivores. The vegetarian sandwiches come in the form of whole wheat pita wraps and they are BIG! I’m pretty sure you can have the option of having the wrap filling served on other types of grain/bread, just ask. Vegetarian wraps are priced at $6.50 and they are well worth it not just because of their size, but because of how much food they stuff in them. Their list of vegetarian tortilla wraps include:
- grilled eggplant, sundried tomato, and feta cheese
- dijon egg and avocado
- grilled vegetables
- grilled portobello mushrooms and brie
- avocado, feta cheese, and roast pepper sauce
- hummus and fresh vegetables
- falafel with tahini and fresh vegetables
- spicy tofy and peanut sauce
I had me a grilled eggplant, sundried tomato, and feta pita wrap and added some avocado for an extra charge (I can’t remember how much I added for the avocado, but it definitely wasn’t more than a dollar). Was I ever excited when I got my pita wrap! It was mondo big with SO MUCH VEGGIES stuffed inside! Along with the eggplant, sundried tomato, and feta, my pita wrap was stuffed with romaine, tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots, alfalfa sprouts, and red cabbage.
The wrap was crunchy, fresh, and savoury from both the sundried tomato and feta cheese, and the eggplant was sliced in large wedges with the blistered skin still on, YUM! And I know this sounds silly, but this point is worth making: the pita wrap stayed intact! I know some people shy away from pitas and tortillas and the like because stuff just crumbles and fulls out out of it and it becomes too messy to eat. The pita was wrapped in such a way that the stuff actually stayed inside for the most part. I mean, sure, some feta crumbles may have slipped out, but it definitely wasn’t a leaky wrap and it wasn’t messy.
Sage serves a number of other vegetarian dishes including pasta, salads, and a variety of quiches and soups. Daily specials change on a regular basis, but on any given day you might see things like roasted pepper penne pasta with spinach, mushrooms, and olives; quinoa and vegetable salad; chick pea and red onion salad; lentil salad with bulghar and orange; eggplant parmesan; spicy stuffed plantain with sauteed peppers; pesto linguine with artichokes and sundried tomato; roasted red pepper linguine with black olives; pad thai; and vegetarian lasagna among others.
Even though the cafe is on the smaller side, I really feel it’s a fabulous lunch spot because the prices are reasonable (there are a number of “under $10 meals”, tax included!), portions are big, the food is fresh and healthy, and the cooking is done right before your eyes; owner Wendy Hernick was cooking up salads and pasta in the visible kitchen area while I was enjoying my meal.
They also serve weekend brunch from 11am-3pm and although the prices for brunch and breakfast are a little on the pricier side, I caught a glimpse of someone else’s eggs benedict brunch dish as it was being brought to them and hot damn was the plate of food ever large. Portion size isn’t an issue here, so it’s really, it’s up to each individual person on how much they’re willing to spend on weekend brunch. Some won’t spend more than $10 and others feel fine spending $12 or $13. Either way, I recommend the cafe for lunch for those looking for healthy, vegetarian options and an all-around great meal. And hey, you just might make some foodie discoveries of your own around this “unchartered” territory 😉
Sage Cafe and Catering is located at 166 McCaul St., just off Elm St. It’s south of Baldwin St. and north of Dundas St. West. It is located just several blocks north of the AGO and is open 7 days a week from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday and for weekend brunch from 11am-3pm. For more info, click here. The Vegetarian Sandwich Series is a series on Ate by Ate dedicated to showcasing great vegeterian sandwiches in and around the city of Toronto.