A Veggie Gem in the Foodie Treasure Chest – Quinoa, Kale & Vegetarian, Vegan Delights at Lola’s Kitchen on Church Street!

Leave a comment

DSCN9551

As someone who isn’t vegetarian or vegan, I sure do love my veggie meals and veggie food spots!  I adore my beloved Mela Cafe, Fresh, King’s Cafe, Earth & City and Sadie’s Diner and could feasibly eat my way through these places and others on my list) for an entire year and be just peachy (okay, not eating sushi would be crazy talk in my world but let’s just hypothetically envision it for this post).  But just when I thought I was content and satisfied with the yummy vegetarian and vegan options in the city, I am knocked off my feet by an amazing, wonderful, DELICIOUS accidental discovery!

After all this time, I had no idea Lola’s Kitchen existed.  LOLA’S KITCHEN.  By Bloor and Church St.  Smack dab in the centre of the downtown hub.  And right under my nose this whole time!  I don’t know whether to be disappointed in myself for having this allude me for so long or to be joyful that this dining destination is now lovingly in my life.  I think I’ll go for the latter, it’s happier.

DSCN9566 - Copy

And it truly was an accidental discovery.  Long story short, I was googling red velvet whoopie pies in TO and found Lola’s Kitchen on the 2nd page of search results through a random yelp review with a red velvet whoopie photo!  Lola’s changes up their desserts on a regular basis though so the whoopie pies aren’t a regular fixture, but I don’t even care because that search led me to them!  And if you’re wondering why I was searching for red velvet whoopie pies…well, I can’t tell you.  It’s a secret, sorry guys!Anyway,  now that you’ve heard my preliminary gushing, write it down on a sticky note in red marker with exclamation points and circle it!  Oh and post it on your mirror.  Because you’ll want a reminder every day, trust me on this one.

lolaskitchen.collage

Lola’s Kitchen, located at 634 Church Street, just south of Bloor, is a fantastic eatery with more vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options than I can count on my fingers and toes!  Housed in a pretty Victorian-style house with a front patio to boot, Lola’s Kitchen dishes out lunch, dinner and weekend brunch to the masses (I know, I might as well float up to heaven right now) with plenty of salads, grain bowls, tacos, burgers, sandwiches and sides to choose from with prices ranging from $11-$14 for most mains, $3 to $7 for small plates, salads and sides.

It is such an interesting space to me, not just because of all the mouthwatering food they offer on their menu but because they are just so damn good at catering to all different types of appetites and people.  I love how they’re not one-dimensional.  Their menu offers a scrumptious array of bistro-style vegetarian and vegan dishes (with some meat dishes available as well!) that are simultaneously trendy and chic yet casual and comforting, surrounded by a halo of health and wellness.  It’s Fresh meets food truck meets bistro meets pub meets fine dining.  We’re talking quinoa and brown rice bowls with fresh vegetables on the one hand and vegan tacos, pulled pork, corn fritters and kale caesar salad on the other.

lolaskitchen.collage2

lolaskitchen.collage3

Not only is there is there a juxtaposition in foods, there’s also a noticeable difference between clientele!  While I was here stuffing my face I noticed suit-clad business folks at one table and a student couple right next to them at the table to their right.  And then there was me noshing by myself.  I gotta say, it’s not something you see very often.  Let’s face it, we know some spots are very niche.  But Lola’s Kitchen just attracts everyone and that’s the beauty of it.  It’s incredible how they have the atmosphere and food to make a business meeting, friendly get-together, university student hangout and romantic date work in the same space.

While I had a reeeally difficult time choosing between all the awesome food (what else is new?), I opted for their California bowl ($14) because I LOVE grain bowls and rice bowls and the sheer abundance of kale in it made me salivate before my dish even hit the table!  So many of their dishes have veggies like sprouts, kale, beets, cabbage, spinach, peppers, sundried tomatoes and avocado and grains like quinoa, couscous, and brown rice.  The California bowl was a glorious mountain of shredded purple kale, a bed of quinoa, sliced avocado, sundried tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, sliced almonds and sunflower seeds and 3 wedges of grilled tofu, all drizzled with a yummy cider vinaigrette.  This is a pure bottomless pit of deliciousness!

DSCN9554

DSCN9552

DSCN9563

There was so much texture and colour and flavour and the vinaigrette, if you can believe it, made this dish!  It’s crazy how something so simple can make or break a dish.  I know I love quinoa and kale and avocado and everything else on this plate, so how does one elevate foods that are already so great on their own when they’re put together?  There’s the texture and crunch from nuts and sprouts, and then there’s the vinaigrette that gives the dish so much of its flavour and keeps everything moist.  And it was incredible just how much of it there was on the plate.  You don’t realize it until you start digging in but holy mother of pearl it’s the gift that keeps on giving and it’s exactly the type of meal that will fill you up and make you feel so good afterward.

If I could, I’d come here every single week.  There are that many wonderful options to choose from.  I want to attack their weekend brunch, I want to try their kale caesar salad (polenta croutons oh my god!), their vegan tacos, their black bean, mushroom and walnut burger, portobello and brie sandwich and SO MUCH MORE.  I’m so super excited to finally share this with you guys because I’ve been holding onto this for a month!  I love sharing different dishes from my fave places, but I know there’s nothing like brand new content and material to keep things fresh and exciting so I hope you’ll all try them out and enjoy the food as much as I did!

*****

Lola’s Kitchen is located at 634 Church Street, just south of Bloor St. East.  They are open from Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner from 11am-10pm and Saturday and Sunday for weekend brunch and dinner from 10am-10pm.  Visit their website HERE.

Advertisements

Summer Can’t Come Soon Enough – A Work-in-Progress Look at the *NEW* Fresh Location at Yonge & Eglinton!

2 Comments

DSCN9401

It may be below zero out but I am all warm and fuzzy inside because I am absolutely ECSTATIC and bouncing off the walls over Fresh’s brand spankin’ NEW location opening this summer!  For those of you already know, jump up and down with me!  For those who don’t, start jumping up and down with glee now!  Fresh is expanding, opening a beautiful new location uptown in the Yonge & Eglinton neighbourhood right at the intersection of Eglinton Ave. East and Dunfield Ave.  Expected opening?  Just in time for the gorgeous, sun-kissed season of summer.

I should have posted this exciting news back in December when I first found out, but we all know I was hardly here so better late than never!  My breath literally caught in my throat when I found out the news from Fresh’s December newsletter.  One of my favourite restaurants opening a new location in one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city?  PURE GOLD.  I cannot wait.  The patio area is going to be spectacular (just look at it!  Envision patio tables and chairs and sipping freshly blended juices out here!  Ignore the snow.  It’s ugly and it needs to go away, like, NOW).  And even after all my Fresh meals and visits, I am far from exhausting their menu and I am so looking forward to trying something I’ve never tried before at this new location.  It’s only appropriate!  Here’s what’s on my to-eat list (taken straight off their online menu) at Fresh!

aa_openingsoon_eglinton2013

Source: Fresh Restaurant website

  • All-Star Salad ($12) – quinoa & adzuki bean tabouleh on shredded raw kale with goji berries, Toasted Nut & Seed Mix, parsley, cilantro, sunflower sprouts, grilled sweet potato & tofu steaks
  • California Classic Salad ($12) – quinoa & adzuki bean tabouleh on shredded raw kale with goji berries, Toasted Nut & Seed Mix, parsley, cilantro, sunflower sprouts, grilled sweet potato & tofu steaks
  • Sam Houston Burrito ($10) – slow cooked soy & sweet potato taco filling, sautéed peppers & onions, salsa, avocado chipotle sauce, lettuce and alfalfa sprouts
  • Powerhouse Bowl (with either brown rice, $14 or soba noodles, $16) – avocado, chick peas & grilled tofu steaks with sunflower sprouts, Toasted Nut & Seed Mix, tomato, red onion & spicy tahini sauce
  • Dragon Bowl (with either brown rice, $14 or soba noodles, $16.  Also available in baby size. Rice, $10.  Soba noodles, $11) – grilled tomato, zucchini & tofu steaks with rich miso gravy, sesame seeds, cilantro & green onions
  • Energy Bowl (with either brown rice, $14 or soba noodles, $16.  Also available in baby size. Rice, $10.  Soba noodles, $11) – marinated tofu cubes, rich coconut curry sauce, chick pea & vegetable stew, cucumber, tomato, red onion, sunflower sprouts & tahini sauce
  • Brunch Burrito (weekend brunch only, $11) – scrambled tofu with tempeh bacon, tomato, lettuce, alfalfa & house mayo in a grilled whole wheat tortilla served with your choice of soup, salad or home fries
  • Banana Nut Pancakes and Blueberry Almond Pancakes (weekend brunch only; double for $8, triple for $10)

DSCN9403

DSCN9400

I will consider my mission accomplished if I can even check two options off this list!  It’s just a never-ending list of scrumptious wants, especially when you factor in how much I love creating my own custom bowls too!

Summer can’t come soon enough.

*****

Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)

September Has Never Looked So “Veggielicious”! The Return of the Vegetarian Price Fixe Event of the Year!

1 Comment

This just in, folks: In just two and a half weeks, vegans, vegetarians, raw foodists, and foodies alike with be descending on some of the city’s most popular, beloved vegetarian and vegan eateries for one of the yummiest price fixe food events ever!  From September 24 to October 7, Veggielicious will be making its highly anticipated return to the city and GTA for its 2nd year in a row!  I’m so happy and excited I could pirouette around my living room! 

After wondering for months if Veggielicious was ever going to take place again, I finally got my answer today from my monthly Fresh e-newsletter and my heart squealed with glee.  I have been waiting for this!  Taking part in Veggielicious is one of the best ways to find out about vegetarian and vegan places that you aren’t familiar with and it’s the best reason to try out something new!  And there will be plenty of new things to try this time around because a handful of last year’s favourites are returning with new specials and event menus while others will strut their stuff on the Veggielicious stage for the very first time.

The fabulous lineup of eateries, cafes, and bakeries taking part this year include The Beet, Fresh, Live Organic Food Bar, Fressen, Cruda Cafe, E.L. Ruddy, Hotel Gelato, Feel Good Guru, Hogtown Vegan, and Tori’s Bakeshop among a host of others.  I can’t wait until they post all the special promotions and menus on the Veggielicious website, especially for Hogtown Vegan, Tori’s Bakeshop, E.L. Ruddy, Hotel Gelato, and of course, Fresh!  I’m excited about all of them, but these spots particularly strike my fancy because I’ve been wanting to go to several of them for months now and the timing for Veggielicious couldn’t have been better!  And just think, this will be on top of the Vegetarian Food Festival happening this weekend!

Last year’s Veggielicious delights! Triple threat promo from Bunner’s Bake Shop (gypsy cookie, creamie, and cupcake) and veggie tofu scramble breakfast at Sadie’s Diner!

I had such a great time last year and I have a feeling this year will be even more terrific.  If it wasn’t for Veggielicious last year, I never would have found out about Burlington’s vegan powerhouse, Kind Food, and I never would have made those memorable first visits to Bunner’s Bake Shop and Sadie’s Diner when I did and I made some great memories and friends because of it.  Veggielicious took me out of my comfort zone (literally and physically as it gave me the nudge I needed to venture out to The Junction for the first time!), it gave me my first delicious experience with scrambled tofu and vegan breakfast, and it made me feel even more excited about finding vegetarian and vegan places I had never known about or been to before.  It’s an ingenious way of bringing people together through their love for vegetarian and vegan food and creating publicity for all the participants involved.   Once the website is updated, I’ll keep everyone posted on what my picks are!*****

Vist the Veggielicious website HERE to keep up to date on all the promotions, price fixe menus, and participating restaurants, cafes, and bakeries!