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.