264 Dupont, at Spadina
LIVE is a raw, organic vegan restaurant and is located at Spadina and Dupont in the “upper” Annex. About two months ago, Aaron and I heard about LIVE from a review in Now
magazine (see )and we thought it would be great to have brunch there.
Unfortunately, this review was a teaser (and inaccurate) since LIVE does not serve brunch at all (or as
of yet). In addition, they are closed Sundays so when we went there to enjoy our first experience at
LIVE, we were disappointed to find that LIVE was closed.
With much anticipation, I decided to plan a get together with Aaron, Wendy, her boyfriend Brandon, and two other friends to have dinner at LIVE. I like LIVE’s philosophy. I think the ideology of LIVE is that
food should be eaten in the most natural form- raw and unprocessed.
LIVE’s review claims
Reservations are recommended so I called to make reservations but to my disappointment, LIVE does not
accept reservations. Either the journalist who wrote the article was on crack or LIVE really
misrepresented themselves. LIVE is closed on Sundays but the NOW review claims it is opended for Sunday
brunch. There is no Sunday brunch at LIVE.
We planned for a Friday evening dinner at 7:00pm. The staff at LIVE could not make a reservation but
they did “take note” that they would be expecting 6 people for dinner. I prepared to leave at 4pm to be
in Kitchener for 5pm to meet my lift who would take me close to downtown. To my dismay, she had a flat
tire and we had to stop by several places in Kitchener to fix the tire. We finally found Wal-Mart
(since all small auto-shops were closed) so Wal-Mart saved the day!
I finally got into Toronto at
8:30pm instead of my 7:00pm time frame. Having known that LIVE closes at 10pm, I knew that calling each
of my friends on their cells phones and notifying them of my delay would allow them some more time to
relax at home before venturing off into the cold December air on that Friday night.
When I finally arrived, I was greeted by my possee. LIVE’s colour scheme is lime green and bright
orange with green grass “peel and stick” floor tiles and the whole decor looks lively and bright like a
children’s playroom in neon colours. There are only about 10 tables and they are not packed in tightly
like most Toronto restaurants. Decor does not have any wood or metal but a lot of bright plastic and
thin tables and chairs, patio style. Decor is very funky and hip, different than Fressen which emulates
a tropical rain forest in an ultra modern hip and cool yuppie setting. LIVE looks less slick and
polished and more like Juice for Life.
I started with a tall smoothie (raw cacao, dates, figs, walnuts or pecans, almond milk) for $5.25 and a warm borscht (beet and carrot soup) ($6.25) with an order of raw multigrain manna bread with a sunflower seed pate ($1.00)
which tasted like a cream cheese dip. LIVE mostly serves raw food and some items are “gently
cooked”. It is important to remove all of your visual interpretations of items like pizza, pasta, cream cheese, and eggs because LIVE re-defines the possibilities of what pasta can be if made “raw” and “vegan”. Quite creative on the part of the cook. I had to remove my traditional image of what a pizza should look like, what
cheese or eggs or lasagna or any pasta dish resembles since I know that LIVE serves very little “cooked” items.
We all decided to order the combo plate ($13.50) since we would be able to get a taste of
everything. The combo plate include canneloni (thinly sliced zucchini) with ricotta cheese (cashew puree), raw pizza crust (multigrain manna) with a medley of toppings, including fresh cilantro, tostitas (Mexican pizza type dish) with many veggie toppings, a nice cheesy dip (sunflower
seed pate), and a large salads of organic greens in a ginger viniagrette.
The meal was very colourful,
full of amazing aromas, texture, and flavour. I felt light and healthy and i knew i was eating high
quality food. Bread was bursting with many grains and I could not believe it was not baked. I felt so much energy after finishing my meal. I felt full in a healthy way, not “gut
rot” like at an Indian buffet or a Chinese buffet. I had a pleasant feeling of satisfaction since the food I ate was extremely tasty, healthy, low in fat and grease, and because it was organic, it did not contain hormones, pesticides, anti-biotics, or any other toxins. Of course
organic food is not as attractive as “mainstream” food. Portions are always smaller and prices are higher but taste is always 100 times better. The food’s flavour was heightened due to how “raw” it was. Cooked food loses some taste and nutrients, thus its nutritional value becomes depleted. When I used to make stir fries for myself, my friend Wendy used to tell me how I cooked “the shit” out of my vegetables. Dishes were flavourful, aromatic, and had texture.
For dessert i ordered the raw chocolate fudge banana coconut
cream pie. It was composed of a dollop of raw cacao chocolate fudge (dairy free) and the pie was
comprised of a flourless banana coconut puree that was shaped like a cake. I love banana and coconut
and chocolate and the dish was sweet but not sickening sweet. The cake was heavy on the banana flavour
and i did taste the coconut “meat” part very much. ($6.00)
On my second visit to LIVE, i ordered a nice vegan minestrone soup with raw manna bread. In addition i ordered the linguini (made of shredded zucchini) topped with a cold marinara and pesto sauce. It was accompanied with a delicious salad of spring greens. Don’t get me wrong, the food at LIVE was delicious but after my second visit i was getting frustrated with having my mains served with 90% salad and 10% actual meal. I felt ripped off. I was told to always choose the combo meal but even if I opted for that option, most of my meal would still be salad.
In general, my experience at LIVE was very good. With good friends enjoying a high quality healthy meal. The only
drawback was I felt it was too expensive for my budget and the portions were too small. I know that organic food is not as large or attractive but i left LIVE hungry on both visits. I would definitely not go back, unless it was for special occasions. Menu changes every 2 weeks. LIVE also features a full range of vegan and
raw cookies, pies, and cakes, and other squares change daily. Smoothies are a bit watery but are very flavourful and fresh. You can select any kind of “milk” for the smoothies (soy, rice, almond). An interesting observation from my dinner companions was that there was very little soy products.
Our complete meal including tax and tip for soup, smoothie, our main dish, and dessert was $37 per
person (a bit ridiculous for vegan fare). Does not serve brunch to date (Dec
2005). Average main is $10-$12. Open Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. Closed Sunday and
Monday. Does not take reservations. Cool washrooms in the basement with slogans like Supercucumbers,
Monster Tomatoes, Mega Grapes. How can I eat this food? Maybe this food will eat us ( some type of
slogan written on the walls!). Very pro-environment, with natural products and all organic ingredients. Very cosy
and calm atmosphere. Very enthusiastic and energetic staff. Accepts
all cards except American Express.