Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fresh by Juice for Life and a few of my favourite things

This evening before I went to the Ondaatje reading, Amanda sweetly came with me to Fresh by Juice for Life for a pre-reading dinner. She also lent me her camera for these photos as I unforgivably forgot mine at home. I've been here many times before, but not since I've been blogging. There are 3 locations in the city and they serve delicious and healthy vegetarian food.

We arrived very early (before 5:30PM) and the place was already packed. When it's full, it's a very loud and boisterous restaurant, but you can still have a conversation relatively easily. The service was prompt and swift so we were able to dine comfortably in less than an hour.

For an appetizer, we ordered the dosas, which are basically Indian crepes. The skin is made of lentils and rice, which makes it a little crispy, and inside is a kind of chickpea and potato curry. So good. At Fresh, they serve them on a plate of coconut curry sauce, which I don't think is traditionally Indian, but they're still absolutely delicious. My only complaint (sorry Amanda) was that the little pieces of cucumber garnishing the plate were not the freshest. The seed part had yellowed. Stale garnishes are my pet peeve.

For my main, I had the Beach bowl. It was a huge bowl of soba noodles topped with grilled eggplant, red pepper, sweet potato, avocado, tofu steaks, and sprouts. The amount was incredibly generous and the ingredients were impeccably fresh. The eggplant wasn't cooked through though, so it was tough and styrofoamy, and the red peppers were similarly a little too crisp. The sweet potato was nice however and the sprouts were sweet like blades of grass.

Amanda had the Warrior bowl, which was supposed to be chickpea and vegetable stew with coconut curry sauce and grilled spinach. She said it was more like a mush than a stew, but that it had enough substance to mix with and cover all the noodles. What was strange about my Beach bowl was that it didn't seem to have a sauce at all. The noodles were soaked in what looked like straight oil with tiny flecks of herbs in it -- pretty bland. Maybe if the soba noodle itself was better quality (darker, nuttier), it could have carried off the light oil dressing.

To wash everything down, we had some ultra healthy fruit drinks. Amanda had the Lady Bug (strawberry, blueberry, apple) and I had the 'Susur' (apple, beet, raspberry). I'm assuming that they named the drink after Susur Lee, but I forgot to ask the waitress if there was a story. Susur, the fruit cocktail, was very heavy on the beet. So much so that it kind of tasted like dirt. I felt very virtuous and healthy while drinking it though.

As I said in my earlier post, Amanda told me that I'm quite hard to please as far as restaurants go but, for the record, here are a few things in the city that I love without reservation (in no particular order):
  1. Chicken sandwiches at Churrasco in St. Lawrence Market
  2. Any flavour ice cream at Greg's ice cream
  3. Vegetable pitas and apple cake at Mystic Muffin
  4. Chicken shwarmas at Falafel World
  5. Lattice fries at Shoeless Joe's
  6. Eggs Benedict at Mildred Pierce
  7. Siam Noodle at Salad King
  8. Perogies from Max's Market or Dinah's Deli (St. Lawrence Market)
  9. Rare beef and tripe pho at Pho Pasteur
  10. Chicken salad sandwiches and fries at Zouply's Deli

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