Whether you’re a vegetarian, a vegan or wonder what it’s all about, we highly recommend two new restaurants featuring this healthy and delicious way of eating, both in NDG, but different as day and night. One thing they do share, beyond being vegetarian, is quality.
Food de Toi at 5999 Monkland, across the street from our new offices at 5890 Monkland, looks more like a specialty grocery store from the outside, set in from the street under a massive apartment building.
Once you walk in and sample anything in this lovely, colourful and friendly eatery, you’ll return again and again. There are two tables, one communal, seating seven or eight, facing the front window and door with a view of Monkland and the other in the back, seating four, facing the courtyard, open in summer.
There is a wide tile counter with bar stools, where I’m sitting as I write this, from where I can see the blackboard featuring the Soul Food menu at $12.50, the sandwich of the day, the veggie sushi wrap, pizza, frittata, salads, soups and veggie burgers. Now, if you’ve heard these labels before, they take on a whole new meaning at Food de Toi.
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I’ve tried none of the soul foods — the stuffed pepper, lasagna, and moussaka because on my last three visits I’ve been busy with the soups, salads, frittata and veggie burgers. Be assured that the ingredients are absolutely the healthiest and that all is prepared with attention and love. What do I mean by “old labels don’t apply?” Take the frittata for example ($8): yes, it’s got eggs in it but otherwise, well… it’s hard to describe but scrumptous. It’s a pre-baked delicacy as is the veggie burger, ($4) a concoction of beets, carrots, flax and herbs.
If you do try the stuffed pepper, you’ll see that it’s huge and overfilled with lima beans, quinoa, sometimes millet, sometimes black eyed peas, and lots of herbs. This description comes from the owner, Dan Ezerzer. He and his wife, Kimi Boutilier, do all the cooking.
Today I’m having my favourite “green” soup. Yes, that’s the name of it. Dan says what’s in it
depends on the market that day. Today it contains zucchini, broccoli, spinach, leek and kale with lots of fresh herbs — “always.” In a blender in front of me, Dan’s preparing a super food smoothie, a house specialty, with kale, pineapple, flax seeds, dates, hemp seeds, cashews, crystal beets, and a pinch of ginger. ($9.75) I’m offered a small cup of his smoothie and am dazzled by the multifarious combination. This is superfood and I’m loving it. If you’re put off by the price of the smoothie, you can always share, but you won’t want to once you’ve had a taste. It’s to live for!
The couple has been “eating like this” at home for 15 years. Why? They believe it’s “superhealthy and nutrient dense.”
By the way, you can eat in or take out and buy your vegan and veggie non-perishable superfoods displayed all along the wall to the left as you walk in. There’s also a fridge with desserts, some gluten free, others keto-style.
I’m happy to add that Kimi has made “fat bombs” for ketogenic eaters with no sugar and very low carbs. They last all day. The chocolate espresso is my favourite — made of almond flour, 100% cacao, espresso, and coconut oil.
The salads come in three sizes: $6, $9, and $15, as the soups do. You can choose to have one salad in your bowl or more than one. They are divine whether served separately or keeping company with their neighbours. My favourite is fennel, arugula, red onions, pomegranate with Kimi and Dan’s secret vinaigrette.
At $4, the veggie burger (no bun for me) is
incredible with a light, secret white sauce drizzled on top. If you’re on keto, you’ll appreciate the zucchini noodles ($12.50) topped with baked eggplant croquettes and drizzled with fresh tomato sauce.
Oops…. I’ve gone on too long with Food de Toi and have no space for Ashley’s at 5942 Sherbrooke W. with its beautiful, modern but comfy décor, with table service and the finest of vegetarian delights, my favourite being the chili. You’ll have to wait for our March issue for a full review of Ashley’s. But whether you’re in the neighbourhood for full service fine dining or off-the-cuff friendly counters and communal tables and lots to take home, you will be in love with what these restos offer in nutrition and taste. They’ve bowled me over!