My co-workers are mostly vegetarian and vegan, so we took the opportunity one day to visit this organic, raw vegan restaurant after doing a site visit for work. The day happened to be the wettest day in August since 1958 or something. Can you tell by the picture?
Organic Lives is on the corner of Quebec and 2nd Avenue, and is housed in a big red brick building. Even with the signage, it was a little hard to tell that there was a restaurant inside; in fact, I must have walked by the restaurant every day when I lived in the area.
Okay, when I first heard about this restaurant I was skeptical, because what can there be except salads? But looking at the restaurant's website I was intrigued by the various food preparation methods. Although none of the food is cooked, there is a lot of dehydration, blender use, and some really complicated processes.
The first thing that I noticed about the place is that it is quite warm, despite the lack of stoves. One of my co-workers explained that this was because of the industrial size dehydrators they use. Although the seating is quite limited (around 20ish seats?), the restaurant had a large kitchen/prep area and really high ceilings. There is a bar area on which you can perch and watch the food preparation.
Along one side of the restaurant, there are products that you can take home with you, like coconut water, dehydrated pineapples, and various nut butters.
The menu is quite interesting, because it's very 'normal', with things like lasagna, wraps, sushi, pizza, and nachos. This makes dining here less intimidating for people, I guess. But when you read the descriptions and the food actually arrives, the utter ingeniousness of the dishes is pretty astounding.
Now, on to the food!
Side Garden Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
I had the lasagna with Caesar salad ($14). The lasagna was made with thin slices of zucchini, and tomato, a nut-ricotta like cheese, sun dried tomato sauce, hemp-basil pesto. This was beautiful to look at and even more beautiful to eat. Everything was super flavourful and fresh tasting. The nut 'cheese' had the most uncanny resemblance to ricotta, but tasted even better than the original. However, the star of the dish was definitely the Caesar salad. The Himalayan pine dressing was tangy and complex and utterly delicious. The 'crutons', made from almonds, was amazing. I was amazed at the vibrant flavours this dish had.
Everyone loved their dishes. By all accounts, everything was intensely flavoured and delicious. It was such a surprise for me, because many of the ingredients I had never even heard of! And I was astounded at how good everything tasted. Even though the dishes here are a little bit pricey, it is worth the money considering the organic ingredients and the intense amount of preparation involved in the dishes.
I want to come back and try everything on the menu!