Fresh by Juice for Life (2007)-Brunch

 326 Bloor Street West /corner Spadina 
Phone: 416-531-2635 

894 Queen Street West/ corner Crawford 
Phone: 416-913-2720 

147 Spadina Avenue, corner Richmond 
Phone: 416-599-4442

Fresh by Juice for Life, in operation since 1996, recently offered a new brunch menu with a small variety of vegan offerings. If you like tofu scramble all wrapped up in a warm tortilla, or fluffy spelt flour vegan pancakes, then this brunch is for you.

Offered on the weekend from 9am-3pm, Fresh offers creative and healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes without compromising on taste, texture, flavour, and colour. For our Sunday brunch, Zam and myself both ordered the veggie tofu scramble with many sauteed veggies, wrapped up in a warm tortilla. In addition, we also shared the almond and walnut vegan banana flax seed pancakes with organic raw maple syrup. We both thought that the portion sizes were reasonable and were healthy and satisfying. Flavours are delicately blended so that they can be recognised on the pallette.

Bathrooms at the new Fresh (at Spadina and Bloor) are larger, cleaner, and esthetically pleasing. Careful not to clog (easy to do with too much toilet roll down the pot). Ambiance is pretty casual, good people watch, always seems busy can be loud at times. He loved the choice of drinks and meal suppliments. The new fresh is more spacious, can accomodate more people, looks slick and trendy, and definitely attracts more than the U. of T clientele. Times have changed and it looks like Fresh is following in Fressen footsteps. Brunch prices are under $15 if you have a beverage. Accepts all cards.

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Bo De Duyen (closed Dec 2007)

254 Spadina Avenue (2nd floor)
416 703-1247

Closed Dec 2007

Conveniently located on the second floor on Spadina just south of Dundas, Bo De Duyen has been serving patrons over 160 veggie items (mostly vegan) for the past 16 years. Offering mostly mock meats, chicken, fish, and seafood, Bo De Duyen offers dishes that can cater to Buddhists (mildly spiced and vegetarian) and some dishes are highly spicy (denoted on the menu). The restaurant contains two large dining rooms and can accomodate large groups (some of the circular tables are so large, they can sit more than ten people). Bo De Duyen is very affordable. Most main dishes are under $8. Offers dinner special for 2, 4, 8, and 10 people.

Family run since 1990, the wait staff are the children of the owners. They are friendly, knowledgeable, and make excellent recommendations for the popular and not so popular appetizers, main dishes, smoothies/shakes, and desserts.

Offers 162 vegan items, divided into mock meats, mock chicken, mock fish, tofu dishes, noodle and rice dishes, hot and cold drinks, and desserts. The mock meat and chicken dishes taste shockingly like the real thing. Dishes are prepared "in house" with their special secret mushroom sauce, but all soy-based products are imported from Hong Kong. Luckily there are few nut dishes (for those who are allergic to nuts) and food is based on a Buddhist way of life

For our meals, Zam and I ordered the thick and creamy coffee (excellent!) with condensed milk at the bottom (sweet, thick, and delicious). Jaya and Sanjay both ordered a Mango Shake (fresh mango puree, silken soy, and sugar). I had previously ordered a Mango Shake and it was "to die for" delicious.

For our mains, we opted to share a medley of dishes. I ordered the sauteed veggies with tofu and cashew, and my other dinner companions ordered the chinese broccoli with tofu, thick curried soup of veggie chicken and tofu with vermacelli noodles, beef stir fry with veggies, and the veggie duck in teriyaki sauce, and last but not least pineapple-fried rice.

For 4 people including drinks, appetizer, and meals, the bill came to $56 and change. Quite an excellent deal. Only accepts cash. Open 6 days a week (closed Wed) from 11am-10pm. Decor is a bit outdated but it’s basically clean (for Chinatown at least) and atmosphere is not stuffy, pretentious, or clausterphobic. I’d defintiely recommend this to place to anyone who is not afraid to try mock meats.

 

 

Lotus Garden [closed October 2005]

393 Dundas Street West
416-598-1883

Nov 2005 Update: Lotus Garden closed in Oct 2005. They plan to open up again somewhere else soon.

Located at the edge of Chinatown, near the corner of Dundas and University. This restaurant serves strictly vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine, with seitan and tofu as the main ingredient for some marvelous dishes. Recommended; the ginger “chicken” and the BBQ “pork”. Ordering is very simple. Patrons fill out the order form themselves and all dishes are assigned a code. I have been many times and ordered the tasty veggie cold rolls, the deliciously spicy hot and sour soup (it’s red!), and the vegetarian chicken curry dinner with strips of vegetarian chicken, beef, and tofu chunks. They also have vegetarian shrimp and duck.

Very affordable, laid back, casual dining. Limited seating and ambiance is nothing special. Dishes look and taste remarkably like meat dishes. They accept Interac and VISA but not Mastercard.

Fresh by Juice for Life

Old location:
521 Bloor W, (416) 531-2635

894 Queen Street West
416-913-2720

New location on Bloor Street West :
326 Bloor Street West
416-531-2635
147 Spadina Avenue
416-599-4442

 Web site: www.juiceforlife.com, now (2009)- http://www.freshrestaurants.ca

Funky, colourful, cool, totally vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant in the Annex, and another satellite location on Queen West. The food is expensive and completely vegetarian or vegan. The decor is trendy, busy, tables close together with little room to move around. The ambiance is funky and trendy. The tables are plain and the seats are hard and slightly uncomfortable.

There is a wide selection of fruit and vegetable juices and power smoothies and if you choose to dine alone, you can eat at the bar. I usually order a Power shake like the Chai Chiller, or the Date Almond Super Powershake, or the Blueberry Dreams. All shakes contain vanilla soy milk, bananas, other fruits, some protein and vitamin supplments, and other ingredients. I have been a frequent visitor to Juice for Life and I have always loved their shakes. 16oz shakes are $4.95, Super powershakes 16 oz are $5.95 and the larger sizes are $8.95 and $9.95 respectively. For my meal, there are items like a variety of funky salads, similar to Montreal’s Cafe Santropol and a variety of soups, salads, chili, veggie burgers, and fabulous, unique, and funky rice and noodle dishes. They also serve alcoholic drinks like beer and wine.

There are spicy Thai veggie burgers with Thai peanut sauce smothered on a veggie burger, and a variety of red bean, black bean, and Indian style chick pea wraps. If you want to add tofu steaks or a side of grilled tempeh, it costs an extra $1.00.

The average price for lunch and dinner entrees are the same $7.95-$10.95 and that’s expensive for a rice or noodle dish. Most of the dishes comprise of rice and a medley of vegetables. Some dishes I love are “The Beach”, “The Buddha”, “Ninja”, “Dragon” “Green Goddess”, “The Warrior”. There are a variety of delicious wraps: “The Kathmandu Wrap”, “The Black Bean Burrito”, “Red Bean Adzuki Wrap”, and the “Grilled Vegetable Wrap”. It’s important to add grilled tofu steaks or grilled tempeh if these dishes do not offer them. The grilled tofu and grilled tempeh is “to die for.” Some of the dishes are distinctly Asian and some are Indian in flavour.

The restaurant used to have a more “political” feel, that is, animal rights propaganda used to be placed on the walls and there are some anti-meat posters alongside the juice bar. Since opening its first restaurant on Bloor near Bathurst in the Annex (in 1995) the animal rights propaganda has literally disappeared over the years. As of 2004, there are other “Fresh by Juice For Life” locations at Queen near Spadina, and Queen near Shaw (where the old brunch place “Triple X” used to be. Since 1995, the Juice for Life has since changed brands to “Fresh by Juice for Life” and has basically become mainstream, with proper tables, booths, and fancy mirrors and cool and funky artwork on the walls.

There are a couple of booths in the back but most of the restaurant are composed of tables. The restaurant staff are eccentric and funky and most of the clientele are students or artists in their late 20’s. The food is fresh, portions are decent, but the prices are high for the type of food in this trendy, hip eatery.