Vegetarian Haven (formerly Health Haven)

17 Baldwin St

I heard about this place at last summer’s Vegetarian Food Festival at the Harbourfront centre last August 2003. Formerly known as Health Haven in Etobicoke, this place opened in Baldwin Village in the fall of 2003. I was excited to try it out, but never made it out to this small little enclave, almost hidden from the fast pace of downtown Toronto.

Vegetarian Haven is a vegan restaurant with flare. The interior is dark and resembles a bistro, or some romantic jazz place. Interiors are very nice inside, almost fancy. Menu is extensive and large, almost intimidating. It is divided into appetizers, salads, tofu main dishes, seitian main dishes, tempeh main dishes, vegetable stir frys, noodle dishes, powershakes, and desserts.

Prices are very affordable and I was surprised since the restaurant looked so “high end.” When I went for dinner last night with two Librarian friends (Helen and Melanie), we sat on the front patio, slightly elevated from street level. The front patio was very comfortable as seating is not that congested. Patio sits about 7-10 tables. The restaurant seems to sit about 15-20 tables inside.

There is a daily lunch special ($7.99), daily dinner special ($9.99), a set lunch meal ($12.99), and a set dinner meal ($14.99). Sound confusing? It’s not really. The lunch and dinner specials are just entrees of the day. The set lunch and dinner specials consists of the entree, the soup of the day, and a choice of different desserts (tofu ice cream or toffutti, or vegan chocolate cake).

I ordered the sweet and sour tempeh dish ($9.99) and a hot and sour soup ($4.29). The hot and sour soup was a thick red, highly spicy, with a lot of vegetables, including textured vegetable protein the form of shrimp. Soup portion was not that big but not small either. The sweet and sour tempeh was amazing. The tempeh steaks were chewy, nutty in texture and flavour, and were very fresh. The sweet and sour sauce was tangy and came with chunks of hot pineapple. The dish came full of vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, and onions) and I was very impressed with its presentation.

Helen ordered the Organic Tofu & Vegetables with Purple Rice in Clay Pot ($8.99). Melanie ordered the curried pad thai (tofu, crushed peanuts, curried noodles, and a plentiful servind of vegetables for $7.99). The friendly waiter refreshed our water constantly. Service was excellent and waiter was knowledgable and flexible.

Below are a selection of some dishes I found very interesting. Soups include the daily special ($3.50), Won Ton Soup ($3.99), Hot and Sour Soup (wheat free)($4.29). Tofu, Mushroom, Sweetcorn Soup wheat free ($3.50), and the Miso Seaweed Nappa Tofu Soup wheat free ($3.99). Some appetizers include the Baked (not fried) Spring Rolls ($3.50), Baked (not fried) Vegetable Rolls ($3.99), Baked (not fried) Fruit Rolls ($4.99), Fresh Thai Garden Rolls ($3.99), Pot Sticker Vegetable Dumplings ($4.99), Crispy Won Ton ($3.99), Californian Temaki – 2 nori seaweed wraps filled with avocado, marinated tofu, veg. ham, marinated oyster mushroom, cucumber, and daikon radish ($5.99), Tofu Drumsticks – 2 fried drumsticks made with soya, and skewered ($4.99), Samosas($3.49), Pan Fried Stuffed Tofu Skin Rolls ($5.99), grilled BBQ Soya Kebabs- ($5.99)
Fried Crispy Tofu – ($2.99), Fried “King Prawn” ($5.99), and Crispy Oyster Mushroom ($4.99). Menu items with “w/f” are wheat free.

My favourite are the tofu drumsticks. They taste really meaty and the “drumstick” is actually sugar cane. I’d recommend this appetizer for sure! Salads include
Mix Garden Salad with your choice of dressing ($6.99), Cleopatra Salad (Lettuce, orange, sunflower seed, almond, crouton, shredded carrot and sweet corn in nayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil & relish for $7.99), Cucumber, chick pea, and mixed bean salad
($7.99), Bowtie Kombu Seaweed Salad ($8.99), “King Prawn” Fruit Salad with
Konnyaku “king prawn” and fruit cocktail in a dairy free creamy sauce ($9.99), and a side order of mix garden salad ( $3.99). Dressings include creamy tahini, wasabi, ginger sesame vinaigrette, cucumber and dill, honey mustard, and olive oil and vinegar.

Side dishes include a variety of tofu products (pastrami, ham, seafood, grilled tofu, marinated tofu) as well as “King Prawn” , pan fried tempeh, sautéed mushrooms,
steamed veggies, and avocado slices. “Souper bowls” are dinner sized soup bowls with vegetables, noodles, and tofu and/or TVP. They are complete meals on their own. The person beside our table ordered one and he could only finish half. “Souper bowls” include
Dumpling Souper Bowl ($7.99), “Pastrami” Souper Bowl ($8.99), “King Prawn” Souper Bowl ($8.99), “Seafood” Souper Bowl ($10.99), Across the Bridge Souper Bowl ($7.99), and the Won Ton Souper Bowl ($8.99).

Noodle dishes include the Canton Chow Mein ($7.99), Shanghai Chow Mein ($7.99), Curry Pad Thai Noodle ($7.99), “King Prawn” Chow Mein ($8.99), the Seafood Shanghai Chow Mein ($10.99), “Pastrami” Curry Pad Thai Noodle ($8.99), the Spicy Singapore Pasta ($8.99), the Chili with Pasta ($8.99), Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce ($8.99), Spaghetti with “Wheat Balls” in Tomato Sauce ($9.99), Spaghetti with Zesty Seitan Cutlet ($9.99), Spaghetti with Black Pepper Steakette ($9.99), and the Spicy Moroccan Chick Pea Spaghetti ($9.99)

Rice dishes are unique here because the rice served here is a 7 grain blend and it actually looks purple. “Purple Rice” is blend of white, red, brown, wild, and black rice cooked with a sprinkle of herbs. Some rice dishes include Organic Tofu & Vegetables with Purple Rice in Clay Pot ($8.99), Grilled Vegetables and Tofu with Purple Rice in Clay Pot ($9.99), “Seafood” with Purple Rice in Clay Pot ($10.99), Curry Fried Rice ($8.99), Hawaiian Fried Rice ($8.99), Garden Fried Rice ($7.99), Mushroom Delight Fried Rice ($8.99), and “Seafood” Fried Rice ($8.99)

The Vegetarian Haven also serves a variety of vegetarian hamburgers. Burgers come with a lot of vegetables (sometimes grilled) and blue corn chips and salsa dip. Some burgers include grilled seitan burger ($8.99), The grilled marinated organic tofu burger ($8.99), and the grilled Tofu “Salmon” Steak Burger ($9.99)

As with most vegetarian restaurants, there always has to be smoothies and wraps, a light alternative to the heavy noodle and rice dishes. Wraps are served with mixed green salad. Wraps include the classic, “almost cliche” grilled vegetable and tofu wrap ($8.99),
the chili wrap ($8.99), the avocado supreme wrap ($8.99), spicy moroccan chick pea wrap ($8.99), and the seafood wrap ($9.99)

Main dishes come with purple rice and vegetables. Seitan is “wheat gluten”- the protein part of wheat. Some seitan dishes include Singapore Seitan with peanut sauce ($9.99), Spicy Szechuan Seitan Nuggets ($9.99), Steakettes in Black Pepper Sauce ($9.99), Zesty Cutlets
($9.99), Buddha’s Delight ($10.99), and Curried Seitan ($9.99)

Tofu is coagulated ground soy bean puree. Some tofu dishes include the steamed silken tofu ($7.99), marinated organic ginger tofu ($8.99), braised tofu ($.99), Hawaiian Tofu ($9.99), Black Bean Tofu ($9.99), Tofu Turkey ($11.99), Tofu Seaweed Roulade ($11.99), Organic Tofu in Cream of Corn ($8.99), Grilled Organic Tofu and Vegetables ($8.99), Spicy Eggplant Tofu ($8.99), Golden Tofu ($9.99), Bird’s Nest ($10.99), and the Western Tofu Omelet ($10.99)

TVP (textured vegetable protein) dishes include Zacha Textured Tofu ($8.99), Black Bean Textured Tofu ($8.99), Spicy Mapau Tofu ($8.99), Tim Curry ($8.99), Grilled BBQ Kebab ($9.99)

Tempeh dishes are wonderful. Tempeh is fermented soy. It’s nutty, chewy, and filling. Some tempeh dishes include the sweet and sour tempeh ($9.99), spicy cayenne tempeh ($9.99),
Panfried tempeh in a spicy cayenne pepper sauce wf /s $9.99

Vegetable stir fry’s include the Mushroom Delight ($9.99), the Garden Delight ($8.99), the Steamed Seasonal Vegetables ($8.99), the Grilled Seasonal Vegetables ($9.99), and baked stuffed seasonal vegetables ($9.99)

Desserts include a variety of all vegan cakes, ice creams, pastries, and pies. Some include the Fruit Cup ($2.99), Tofu Ice Cream (aka Tofutti) ($3.49), Fried Banana with Coconut Milk and Crushed Peanuts ($5.99), Fried Apple Fritters with Maple Syrup ($5.99) , and the Pan Fried Red Bean Cake ($2.49)

Beverages include a variety of organic juices, sodas, power shakes (a variety of exotic fruit with organic soy milk – $4.49 for most). Some popular powershakes include the mango, pina colada, papaya, and the canteloupe. Sodas are $1.50 which is not bad. They also serve specialty sodas ($2.49/$4.99), a variety of teas ($1.25-$1.50) coffee ($1.99), coffee substitute ($2.50), and flavoured coffee ($2.50)

They accept every card under the sun.