Breaking Out of the Veggie Buffet Comfort Zone – Scrumptious Tofu Burgers at Kale Eatery!

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For all the vegetarians, vegans, and veggie food enthusiasts in and around Toronto who have been to Kale, I pose a question to you: when you think of the magical land of Kale Eatery, what comes to mind?  The wonderfully delicious expanse of rice, steamed kale, hummus, curry, beans, tofu, stew, and salad in the self-serve buffet?  Grabbing a plate at the head of the line and heaping spoonfuls of food onto it?  The feeling of happiness and satisfaction you get bringing a mosaic of healthy food to your table?  All of the above?  I know, me too. 

However, amidst all of these heavenly thoughts of food, I have had major food tunnel vision.  Yes, that’s right, food tunnel vision.  And I feel rather awful about it.  I’ve been so fixated on Kale’s vegetarian and vegan buffet, I’ve overlooked their entire regular, made-to-order, magical menu!  The buffet has stolen my heart and my love has blinded me all this time.  Sigh. 

Every single time I make plans to go to Kale, all I can think of is, “I wonder how much food I can fit on my plate without making a mess out of everything?”.  I walk in, quickly claim a table (Kale gets busy!), throw my bag and outerwear (if I’m wearing any) on my chair, and make a beeline for the buffet.  I grab a plate, survey the selection, and start piecing together a nice a little food puzzle for myself.  I don’t know why I do what I do!  It’s not like the buffet is going anywhere or that I’ll die of starvation if I don’t get that portobello mushroom rice on my plate that very second.  The self-serve buffet is one of my favourite things in Toronto though and when you love something, you do nutty things.  There’s a first time for (almost) everything and during my last visit, I knew it was time I ate out of my comfort zone and that meant enjoying something off their menu.

Kale has an amazing menu of food and drinks that cater to both big and small appetites.  Their regular, made to order menu has a large selection of soups, wraps, veggie burgers, smoothies, and fresh squeezed juice along with coffee and tea drinks and some appetizers such as samosas and hummus and pita plates.  Soups include green lentil with spinach, barley mushroom, curry yellow split pea, butternet squash with millet (a type of grain that can resemble fluffy rice and couscous or creamy mashed potatoes and polenta), and mixed vegetables with pinto beans among others.  If you’re in the market for veggie wraps, Kale has a mouthwatering lineup of portobello quinoa, black bean avocado, tempeh, and spicy sundried tomato.  Finally, the all-mighty tofu burger rounds out the veggie menu, with an option to have it on either a bun or on a bed of greens.  Combined with the buffet, the dizzying array of choices becomes a veggie lover’s dream world!

What I really love about the menu at Kale is how well it complements the buffet options.  There are endless possibilities when it comes to mixing and matching to create that perfect vegetarian or vegan meal.  You can have a wrap and have some rice, tofu, stew, potatoes, or other veggies to go along with it.  You can have a soup and have some fresh, crunchy kale on the side.  There are so many ways to go about it and that’s what makes everything so versatile and easy to love. 

In addition, the menu prices are extremely reasonable ($6-$8 for mains and $3.25 and $4.25 for soups) and that is a huge relief for those who want to eat healthy, but hesitate to eat at vegetarian and vegan establishments because the food is often pricier.  This is a whole other important issue entirely though, one that I’ll address at another time.  For now though, just know that the buffet option may not be the best bet if you’re on a budget, but that the soups, wraps, and tofu burgers are right on par with all other non-vegetarian places.

I love tofu (as you all know) and this was my very first time having one so I was incredibly excited!  The burger ($6.95) was served on a soft, yet sturdy bun with sesame seeds with juicy tomatoes, onions, mounds of baby spinach, thick, creamy slices of avocado, and scrumptious hummus all over the tofu burger patty.  The tofu burger blew me away.  I couldn’t believe how delicious it was.  I wasn’t expecting anything awful, but I was truly taken aback by how good it was.  

For those of you who are meat-eaters and who’ve never had a tofu burger in your life but want to know what the taste and texture is like, the tofu patty was like a breaded chicken cutlet only, in my opinion, 100 times more fabulous.  It was juicy and savoury and it had this crisp goldeness to it on the outside that made it so much more burger and diner-like, and combined with the thick, creamy hummus, it was heaven in my mouth.  It was like eating savoury falafel balls dunked in hummus only with a mouthwatering tofu patty.  With the thick avocado and tomato slices and rings of raw onion, the burger was so tall I could barely fit it into my mouth and that’s saying a lot considering I have the ability to shove an entire cupcake with frosting in my mouth (my boyfriend can attest to that).

And the bun!  There was an option to go bunless and to instead have the burger on a bed of greens or spinach and when I realized that, I thought to myself, “oh geez, I should have gone the greens route!” since I’m a bigger fan of leafy greens than I am of most burger buns.  The burger bun showed me up though and I ended up loving it!  It isn’t dry or overly chewy or so crunchy it makes eating the burger uncomfortable.  It was soft on the inside with a wonderful toastiness to it from the sesame seeds on top.  I would probably hold the onion the next time around (I’m a wuss when it comes to the spiciness of raw onions), but otherwise, the tofu burger knocked it out of the park completely and I am that much more excited to have it again and to try other regular menu items! 

*****

Kale Eatery is located at 2366 Yonge St. (near the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton, just north of Eglinton).  Their website is up and running which you can check out here.

The Stuff Vegetarian & Vegan Dreams Are Made Of: The Long Overdue Kale Eatery Follow-up Post!

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As soon as Alex from Vivid Memories commented on my first blog post about Kale Eatery this morning, I thought to myself, “oh my goodness, has it honestly been SIX MONTHS since that first and only entry?!”  Guilty as charged.  Time has just passed by in a blur and here we are enjoying the last weekend of June and making plans on how we’re going to spend our Canada Day weekends.  I can’t believe it’s already been 7 months since I started Ate by Ate.  In some ways, it feels like old-hat, making blog posts every day about awesome things I’ve eaten and cookies I’ve baked, and getting into the routine of keeping up with as many food events as possible around the city. 

In other ways though, I still get that nervous, slightly anxious butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling every so often knowing I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve for the whole cyberworld to see.  It’s a weird feeling knowing that your passion is splashed across the internet available for the whole world to see and all you want is keep doing what you love to do and for others to love what you do too.  If you can believe it, I’ll be celebrating my 200th post in less than a week and all I can say is that there will be cupcakes to celebrate! 

Anyway, Alex’s comment was the sheer motivation I needed to kick my own butt in gear!  A follow-up blog post about Kale is long overdue and really, considering how much I adore Kale I should be blogging about this vegetarian and vegan heaven every week!  Now, for those who are familiar with Kale Eatery’s self-serve buffet, pay-by-weight arrangement ($2.40/100g), you might be thinking, “it’s self-serve buffet style, how many blog posts could you possibly do about this place?  Won’t you end up just posting photos of the same stuff and writing about the same food?”  Ah, au contraire my lovelies.  Of course there are stamples that are present on a daily basis including yummies like their fluffy, freshly steamed kale, brown rice, and garlic herb roasted potatoes.  However, there are newbies strutting their stuff on the buffet stage all the time on a rotating basis and I was delighted to make friends with these new eats!  Not to mention, Kale serves food outside of their pay-by-weight buffet including wraps, muffins and pastries, smoothies, and fresh juice.  I always gravitate to the buffet though because I love it that much. 

Thanks to FabFind and my friend Wini (who gave me the heads up about the deal on my Twitter), I snatched up 3 -count ’em THREE- $7 for $15 vouchers for Kale, one of which I used last week.  I’m not obsessed, I swear.  Just very…in love…with them.  *whistles*  Walking into Kale made my heart all sorts of happy.  I grabbed a dish and got to work!  Although I grabbed some of my usual stand-bys (steamed kale, portobello mushroom rice, and garlic roasted potatoes), I was so excited to plop a generous helping of never-before-seen-and-eaten eats onto my plate: curry vegetables (red and green bell peppers, zucchini, and carrots in a curry sauce), green lentil potato salad (with celery hearts and peas, YUM!), spicy hummus (which I generously slathered on my potatoes), and spinach quinoa salad with cranberries and mango.  

My heart still flatters at the thought of the green lentil potato salad and spinach quinoa salad, my two particular favourites and standouts from this meal.  The lentils and potatoes were so soft they melted in my mouth and the spinach salad was so bright and colourful and fruity.  It was just so full of personality and personality is exactly what the buffet has.  You can construct a colourful plate full of different textures and you truly get to take advantage of many grains, proteins, and vegetables that are either often overlooked or underused at other eateries.  We all know how boring it would be to see lettuce and tomatoes at a vegetarian buffet.  In fact, I think many of us would be downright infuriated with such bland, run-of-the-mill choices.  Being vegetarian forces you to be creative, especially with your proteins and Kale does a wonderful job of providing a huge selection of food that is actually nutritious and exciting to eat.

Bright green leaves of baby spinach with fluffed quinoa, real cranberries, and juicy diced mango made up the colourful spinach salad and chunks of creamy golden potatoes rubbed elbows with leafy celery hearts and delicious green lentils.  Lentils have become one of my favourite legumes (I thank my first year of grad school for introducing me to these morsels of yumminess) and I think they add great, crunchy texture to salads and rice, not to mention amazing flavour and thickness to soups.  I also adore real cranberries and don’t mind the natural sourness and tartness of them at all.  They were bright, fresh, KILLER salads and they made my meal that much more enjoyable.  Kale hit the nail on its head with these two salads because the combinations were creative and scrumptiously delcious.  This is truly what vegetarian and vegan dreams are made of. 

*****

Kale Eatery is located at 2366 Yonge St. (near the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton, just north of Eglinton).  Their website is up and running which you can check out

Vegetarian and Vegan Greatness – The Fluffy, Leafy, and Delicious Kale Eatery

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You know you love something when your heart does happy somersaults just by thinking about it.  My heart might as well be a bona fide gymnast then because this lovely eatery is everything a person could possibly want in vegetarian and vegan cuisine.  Kale Eatery, located at 2366 Yonge St. (near the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton, just north of Eglinton) is an amazing place that boasts a self-serve buffet with fresh and delicious veggies, beans, rice, potatoes, curry, hummus, tofu, stews, and salads among many other veggie eats.  Although the buffet plays the starring role at this establishment, Kale also serves wraps, tofu burgers, fair trade tea and coffee, over 10 different combinations of freshly squeezed organic juice, and vegan pastries and muffins.  Think desserts with apples, bananas, oats, and all that good stuff.

Just to put it out there, I am not vegan or vegetarian.  Given how much I drool post about sushi, you probably figured that out.  But!  That definitely doesn’t stop me from scoping out great vegetarian places in and around the city.  I may not follow a vegetarian diet or adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, but I truly appreciate places that go above and beyond when it comes to using a variety of fresh veggie ingredients for their dishes and offering lots of non-meat options.  And let me tell you, eating at Kale makes you feel SO GOOD.  When you eat here, you literally FEEL the warmth and wholesomeness of the food spread through your body.

There is so much choice here that it would make anybody skip around in circles!  What I have on my plate down below: celery, cherry tomato, and avocado salad; a heaping spoonful of creamy hummus; spinach pie; roasted potatoes; rice with portobello mushrooms; red lentil curry stew with parsley; and bright, fresh, leafy steamed kale.  I can’t even begin to describe how delicious the food is.  Everything was hearty and so full of flavour and truly one of the best meals I have ever had.  Each and every single portion of food had its own amazing qualities that contributed so much to the entire meal. 

The hummus, spinach pie, and tomato and avocado salad added so much rich creaminess and texture, the kale was deliciously crunchy and fresh, the portobello mushroom rice was so savoury, hearty, and satisfying, and the lentil stew was out of this world.  I love everything I ate, but if I had to choose a standout, it would have to be the red lentil curry stew with parsley ollowed by the portobello mushroom rice.  I could eat the lentil curry stew every day for the rest of my life because it was incredibly delicious.  It was like creamy mashed potatoes, polenta, and thick lentil soup all in one.  It was amazing and I inhaled my plate.  No, wait, I picked up my plate and SHOVELED the food into my mouth until it was sparkling.  So clean you could probably see my reflection in it.  And this isn’t even a tenth of what they serve at the buffet.  There’s sweet potatoes, red kidney beans and chickpeas, quinoa, eggplant, artichoke salad, potatoes and dill, orzo, noodles, vegetarian dumplings and so much more.

A meal from here is so fulfilling and whether you’re a vegetarian or not you never have to think, “hmm, I don’t know, there’s not much to choose from”.  It’s a genuine concern and it grates my nerves when 1) places claim they’re being veggie “friendly” by showcasing a measly lame veggie burger as their only option on the menu, and 2) when people think a vegetarian diet is comprised of starches.  No, you cannot seriously call yourself a vegetarian when all you eat is bread, pasta, and French fries (cue Phoebe-from-F.R.I.E.N.D.S.-like outburst).  You never have to feel like you’re sacrificing anything when you’re here and that’s the beauty of it.  Eating should make you feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally.  No matter what your diet is, food should never posit itself as punishment and when it does, it’s just not enjoyable anymore.

The buffet is available for both sit-down and take-out, and food is charged by weight at $2.40/100g.  Assuming you fill up your plate, you’re looking at a wholesome meal for around $10-$15.  I’ve eaten here twice and filled up my plate both times (as you can see from my photos!) and my meals have come between $10-$12.  Considering the amount you might pay at generic sit-down chain restaurants for a main dish, this is worth it to me.  If a chain restaurant charges anywhere from $10-$20 for a main, a delicious plate like this is not over the top.  What and where you eat is always dependent on personal taste and budget and every once in awhile at Kale is plenty good enough for me.

*****

Kale Eatery is located at 2366 Yonge St. (near the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton, just north of Eglinton).  They are open at 11am and the restaurant is both dine-in and take-out, providing biodegradable containers and boxes for take-out orders and for take-out buffet.  Their beautiful website is up and running which you can check out here.  A big thank you to my friend Nicole for recommending this wonderful eatery to me.  I owe you one! 🙂