Hibiscus Cafe

12305656_10204614863685937_1140597367_nA few weeks ago, I escaped a windy afternoon in Toronto by joining our friend Gabby at Hibiscus Cafe in Kensington Market.

It was the first time I had ever been (as there is often a line-up to get a seat, which is always bittersweet for me when it comes to veg restaurants). The menu at Hibiscus is gluten-free, vegetarian, and organic.

Gabby and I sat by the window, which was lovely as even in the fall a lot of light comes in.

It’s very unusual for me to order a salad — I’m not much of a salad person, and I had actually wanted to go to Hibiscus after seeing someone post a photo on Instagram of their vegan dulce de leche crepe — but when I read the description for Hibiscus’ salad I made my decision.

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The ingredients listed on their menu are just the tip of the iceberg for this 42-ingredient salad. FOURTY-TWO. I ordered it with a side bowl of their butternut squash soup. At $12.50 I definitely felt that I had received my money’s worth.

She ordered the vegan mozzarella, tomato, basil, spinach, and mushroom crepe, which was also delicious.

I completely understand why Hibiscus is such a popular spot now. The staff was knowledgeable and friendly, and despite its popularity, I felt as though Gabby and I had plenty of space to ourselves.

I can’t wait to go back this winter for something sweet and comforting (I’ve got my eye on the chocolate hazelnut crepe)!

— Laura

An Evening on the Patio at Vegetarian Haven

Vegetarian Haven >> Guinea Pigging Green
Coconut Curry Bowl

A few weeks ago, Laura and I had a sleepover at her cute little apartment! The Podcast Boyfriend was away for the weekend so we had the place to ourselves to talk about love, record an episode of the podcast, drink tea, make food, watch a movie and just hang out. That’s the kind of quality time we miss when we’re not living in the same city, and it was so wonderful to just be around each other again.

It was a beautiful summer night, so in the evening we walked over to Vegetarian Haven, one of Laura’s favourite restaurants. It’s on Baldwin, a quiet street in Toronto with plenty of fairy lights, and we got a little table out on the patio to enjoy the lovely end-of-summer weather. It was a busy place but not a loud one, apart from the sounds of a squirrel falling out of a tree onto a parked car (it was fine). We had amazing service: an explanation of the specials, displayed on a small table in the entrance before we were seated, detailed descriptions of the various drinks, and attentive waitstaff throughout our meal.

Vegetarian Haven >> Guinea Pigging Green

We ordered Laura’s two favourites and shared them: the Spicy Bali Stir-Fried Rice Noodles, and the Spicy Coconut Curry, served over rice.

The Bali noodles come with a ton of fresh veggies, tempeh, peanuts and plenty of cilantro and are tossed with a very, very delicious peanut sauce. The Coconut Curry is usually served in a bread bowl, but as we weren’t feeling like anything too heavy we opted for the rice instead. Both dishes had a delicious little kick to them and were completely satisfying. The portions here are huge! Even between the two of us, we weren’t able to finish all of our food and scooped it into the little containers we’d brought along from home – the Bali noodles made an excellent addition to our lunch the next day!

Vegetarian Haven >> Guinea Pigging Green
Spicy Bali Noodles

Overall, we had a really lovely evening in the cozy little atmosphere of Vegetarian Haven. It’s clear their food is made with love and that their staff really care, and that’s the mark of a wonderful restaurant.

-Steph

Sweet Olenka’s in the Summertime

I’ve always said that I have the best luck when it comes to good food.

The kind of luck where just weeks after learning about Sweet Olenka’s delicious ice-cream for the first time, they open up a new location just blocks from where I live.

To say that I was in good company for ice-cream testing is an understatement. I was with my best brother (my only brother, but also one of my best friends, who just so happens to be the guitar player at the beginning of every episode of our podcast), my boyfriend (who is also vegan), and my Guinea Pigging Green co-host Stephanie.

The Kensington Market location of Sweet Olenka’s is tiny and utilitarian, in that their ice-cream and ice-cream bars selection more than makes up for their understated atmosphere (it’s not really an I’ll take it for-here type of place)

I asked the cashier for her vegan recommendation and she told me that the salted caramel ice-cream bar (pictured above left) was both the best seller and her personal favourite. Steph ordered the mocha-chocolate-chip cone, which she confirmed was rich and creamy and delicious (vegetarian).

My boyfriend opted for a generous scoop of Mint Oreo ice-cream (vegan), which is lucky for me, because mint-chocolate chip is one of my favourite ice-cream flavours of all time and relationship rules dictate that I get to try whatever he’s having.

My brother opted for their Ontario Strawberry ice-cream cone (vegan), which he practically inhaled after letting me take a photo.

Right down the road on Augusta is a small park called Bellevue Square. Perfect for eating ice-cream and lounging in the shade with friends.

Make sure to soak up the last few days of summer. Get outside, support local businesses whenever possible, and make dates with good company.

– Laura