Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vegging Out: Veggie Sandwich at Friends and Neighbours

Veggie Sandwich

I returned to Friends and Neighbours Cafe (10834 82 Avenue) yesterday for another late lunch. This time I tried the veggie sandwich, which included a load of soy bacon, spinach, avocado, and tomatoes with red pepper spread on a toasted whole wheat bagel. The sandwich was not exactly as described: the menu said there was also grilled tofu, and made no mention of the red pepper spread, but the soy bacon was plentiful and the spread worked overall to bring the flavours together. For my side I picked the hash browns, which are really more like home fries. A note to vegans: the bagels and buns used for sandwiches at Friends and Neighbours are pre-buttered (margarine, actually). However, I could not taste it and would not have known about it at all had I not asked. Still, this may be an issue for some of you, so I thought I should mention it.

Breakfast for Lunch: Tofu Scramble with Soya Bacon at Friends and Neighbours

Tofu Scramble with Soya Bacon

I went to Friends and Neighbours (10834 82 Avenue) a long, long time ago, and recently started dining there regularly for pho (the restaurant is divided into two sections: pho/Vietnamese and Western, although one can order from either menu on either side). However, I decided to venture into the regular menu, which features a huge variety of vegetarian items. For a late lunch last week I had the tofu scramble with soya bacon. The tofu was chopped up to give a texture like scrambled eggs, with lots of white onion. The "bacon" was plentiful, crispy, and seasoned. It did not taste as much like bacon as other bacon substitutes I have tried, but it had a great flavour and is somewhat addictive. My only criticism would be that the onions in the scramble should have been cooked longer, as they were still very strong. I would possibly ask them to hold the onions next time. The meal was also served with a generous portion of pan-friend hash browns and two slices of toast.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mushroom Pie at Cafe Blackbird

Mushroom Pie

Cafe Blackbird is located in the Crestwood neighbourhood where Jeffrey's Cafe was located for many years. Cafe Blackbird has kept the wine bar, redone the interior slightly, and totally revamped the menu. The small menu of sandwiches and salads are featured on a blackboard, along with the soup of the day, the savoury pie of the day, and a few other items. A variety of baked goods are in a display case. The menu was developed with help from Culina and the coffee from Iconoclast Coffee, as well as other local businesses. There is still live music, and the place has a neighbourhood charm to it. A sandwich will run you about $9 while a soup and sandwich combo is $14.

I had the featured pie, which was creamy mushroom. It was small and rich, with lots of mushrooms in a flaky pastry. I did not realize from the description on the blackboard that there would be cheese in it - this was a problem for me. It was also served with sweet chutney, which I did not understand flavour-wise in context with the pie. I also found the price to be a little high given the small size of the pie. The best part of the meal, for me, was actually the coffee. It was fresh and aromatic. I would definitely head back here for a coffee in a heartbeat. As for the food, I hope in the future there is more of a selection and that the descriptions are better presented.

Hakka Noodle at Naanolicious

Hakka noodles at Naanolicious. #yegfood

Naanolicious is well known as my go-to place for post-libation nourishment on Saturday evenings. I had the opportunity to try a few bites of the Hakka Noodles, an Indo-Chinese fusion vegetarian dish that is essentially a vegetable stir fry in a spicy, savoury sauce with elements of teriyaki and ginger. A very bold flavour, if I ordered this for myself I would add chicken and ask that the heat be turned down just a touch.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Veggie Dumplings at Pho Delight

Veggie Dumplings

Whether you call it Pho Delight or Friends and Neighbours (only a wall separates the two sides of what is basically the same restaurant at 10838 82 Avenue), you can order a variety of pho soups, western meals, and vegetarian dishes no matter where you sit. I tried the veggie dumplings as a snack. Five dumplings were filled with a tofu and vegetable mixture that tasted predominantly from spinach and peas. The texture was very pleasant and the outer shell tasted a bit like pan-fried pancake, although some were a bit overdone. Overall though this was a solid vegetarian take on an Asian favourite appetizer.

Thai Samosas at Viphalay

Thai Samosa

A business dinner at Viphalay saw me order some tried and true favourites, like Pad Thai and the coconut chicken soup. However, I was also in the mood for some Thai samosas. Five small crispy shells were stuffed with chicken, peas, carrots, onions, and yellow curry. Although I typically associate samosas with East Indian cuisine, these tasted noticeably different.

The Pho Files: Phovarite at Phobulous

Steak and Brisket Pho ("Phovarite")

I was heading to film a protest near Phobulous last week and decided to curb my hunger with a bowl of Phovariete, which is the cute menu name for rare steak and well done brisket. While slightly higher in price than other nearby pho places (let alone Chinatown), the portion was full of noodles and lots of meat. It took a little while for the rare steak to cook in the broth, even though it was reasonably hot. Otherwise, this was a satisfying bowl of pho.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Paneer Naan-Wrapture at Naanolicious

Paneer Naan Wrap

Last Saturday, I had lunch at Naanolicious. I ordered a paneer naan-wrapture. Naan-wraptures are Naanolicious' take on donairs: different kinds of meat or vegetarian fillings in a curry, wrapped in a naan with some vegetables. My paneer was in a butter sauce, and it was loaded with pressed cheese. Naan bread can break easily at the crunchy parts, so it was a little messy to eat, but for $8 it is one of the cheapest and most filling items on the menu.