Cactus Club Cafe

Cactus Club is a chain from out West that I saw during my recent visit to B.C.
They’ve recently opened a location here in Toronto in the financial district. Mr. Spoon and I decided to stop in for a leisurely, light Sunday lunch as we were walking past.

We immediately noticed as we walked up that they have a rooftop patio so we asked to be sat up there since it was a lovely August day with lots of sunshine and not too much humidity. Luckily I was wearing a nice dress so I didn’t feel too underdressed. The waitresses were walking around wearing very form-fitting matching dresses and all looked very put-together with heavy makeup and fully-done hair so I’m glad I didn’t stand out too much. Mr. Spoon mentioned he felt a little too casual rolling in with a T-shirt on but there were plenty of other people wearing very casual clothing for their Sunday brunches.

Cactus Club Summer Drinks | thelittleredspoon.com

We decided to sample some cocktails, Mr. Spoon tried the “Summer Smash” which is gordon’s dry gin, cucumber, thai basil, ginger, lime and soda. Now I’m not a gin person, I thought this drink was pretty good but I wouldn’t be able to finish it. Mr. Spoon finished two. Nothing like a nice cool, refreshing drink with cucumbers and booze in it to sip while you’re relaxing in the sunshine and warm breeze, right?

Cactus Club Bellini | thelittleredspoon.com

I tried the Passion Fruit Bellini – smirnoff vodka, passion fruit and sparkling wine. Apparently these drinks are part of a promotion and are only available for their “98 Days of Summer” drinks menu.
It was really good, more of a thick slurpee consistency than what I was expecting. The flavour was great, a nice bold fruit flavour and I could barely taste any alcohol. It did give me a bit of a brain freeze, though, and I thought the presentation was beautiful but a bit impractical. (I may have accidentally knocked that short, poorly balanced straw out with my hand while talking. Twice.)
Cactus Club Edemame | thelittleredspoon.com

We wanted to split some munchies and keep it simple. The prices were pretty steep at this place as well (I was having sticker shock looking at the menu) so we wanted to just sample some stuff. There was a limited menu for Sunday lunch. Some stuff that could be made vegan but not really too many options. Nothing I’m not used to.

The edemame here was perfect, not a single bad one and a good sized portion. I think it could have used a touch more salt but that’s just me talking.
Cactus Club Truffle Fries | thelittleredspoon.com

We also shared some truffle fries with truffle, herbs, grana padano, garlic aioli. Of course Mr. Spoon ate the ones with the cheese on top and I dug around for the naked ones underneath.

What can I say? A girl can’t resist a nice salty, crispy, truffle-y french fry. They were absolutely heavenly. Good enough that it made me wonder if maybe this place would be worth coming back to eventually.

However I did get a very strong whiff of pretentiousness from this place. Of course it’s a chain restaurant from the West coast situated in the heart of the financial district in downtown Toronto, so without a doubt they are catering to people with a LOT of money. And I think they are very successful at doing that. It seemed that a lot of the other guests were there to blow a huge stack on a boozy Sunday lunch in a private booth in a glamorous restaurant just to prove they could. I’m sure the rest of the (expensive) menu is very delicious, but I didn’t get that welcoming feeling that I was among other foodies enjoying food. I felt like a regular person surrounded by rich people who enjoyed spending money just to show that they could.

I suppose there need to be restaurants like Cactus Club Cafe in the world. I don’t have anything negative to say about my experience there, in fact I quite enjoyed everything about it, I just got the feeling that I did not belong in that world.

What do you think? Would you fit in at a place like this? What’s more important to you in a restaurant – atmosphere, food, drinks, service or something else? Leave a comment and let me know.

Cactus Club Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Hogtown Vegan

So many wonderful vegan comfort food spots in Toronto, not enough time to try them all! I finally got myself over to the Vegan Hogtown on Bloor (between Dufferin and Ossington) after living downtown for almost a year. Vegan chicken and waffles? Mac and cheese? Chili cheese fries? Yeah I definitely knew I had to hit this place up at some point and I’m glad I did.

Hogtown Vegan Menu | thelittleredspoon.comHogtown Vegan Apps Menu | thelittleredspoon.com

We decided to try the fried shiitake clams, nachos, and fries supremacy.

 

Hogtown Vegan Beverages Menu | thelittleredspoon.com
As for drinks, we drank whatever on tap that was on special that night. I forget what it was but it was a local craft brew and I do remember it was quite good and reasonably priced.

Hogtown Vegan Sandwiches Menu | thelittleredspoon.com

So many choices! I love a good vegan philly cheesesteak or pulled pork sandwich but we opted to order off the (non-sandwich) entree list not pictured here.

Hogtown Vegan Cutlery and Water | thelittleredspoon.com

Nothing fancy for the cutlery and water.

Hogtown Vegan Shitaake Clams | thelittleredspoon.com

The fried shiitake “clams” were delicious. They came with a chipotle ranch dipping sauce that disappeared quickly. We really love shiitake mushrooms so these were probably the hit of the night.

“Why bother calling them clams? They’re just fried mushrooms. Why not call them that?” Mr. Spoon wondered.

I don’t know why, I guess it’s just part of the shtick. Why call any vegan food anything, really? I know some people hate when vegan food is named after what it’s meant to resemble, especially when it’s not a super accurate recreation. Why call it “pulled pork” when it’s really pulled mushrooms? Well, why call pork “pork” when it’s really a pig? Who knows why, that’s just what people call it. I’m fine with people naming vegan food after “normal” food (obviously) but I guess it’s not for everyone.

Hogtown Vegan Chili Cheese Fries | thelittleredspoon.com

The fries supremacy were pretty good. I wouldn’t say they blew my mind but they did all get eaten. Personally I don’t find yellow nacho cheese sauce all that exciting so perhaps we should have opted for the chili cheese fries that had different toppings. But we were already getting nachos with all the nacho toppings anyway so figured this would be fine.

Don’t get me wrong, they were good, and the cheese sauce and vegan sour cream were both pretty realistic. But even if these were vegetarian and I still ate dairy I probably still would’ve been a little “meh” on them. That’s just my personal taste and not a reflection on the dish itself.

Hogtown Vegan Nachos | thelittleredspoon.com

Nachos are where it’s at, though, am I right? I love a good nacho plate.I liked these nachos. What more is there to say? They were crunchy, thoroughly topped and there was guacamole. Maybe a bit heavy on the beans but otherwise A+

Hogtown Vegan Peppersteak and Dumplings | thelittleredspoon.com

Mr. Spoon’s dad tried the “Peppersteak and Dumplings” TVP (textured vegetable protein) steak and dumplings in a mushroom-beer gravy, with collard greens and sweet potato mash on the side. I have to say that’s quite a sloppy presentation. The steak, dumplings and gravy met everyone’s approval. Mr. Spoon thought the gravy might’ve tasted like a packaged mix of some sort, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but at least it tasted all right. Everyone found the collard greens a little bitter but that’s just the way they are. I had some with my dish as well and found them okay, I just added a little extra salt.

The sweet potato mash was definitely quite sweet for me. I have more of a salty tooth than a sweet tooth but I think it was a good match for my dish of chicken and waffles, which came drenched in syrup.

Hogtown Vegan Caesar Salad | thelittleredspoon.com

Mr. Spoon ordered a caesar salad and it was quite disappointing. I don’t see many “fakin’ bits” or much “creamy Caesar dressing” in this picture but I guess there was a little bit… The thing is, this is a guy that really likes Caesar salad, he appreciates a GOOD Caesar salad, so to be served this… Well it seems a little half-assed, to be honest. I really hate to be harsh, especially to a vegan restaurant, but this was just gross and pathetic. Some of the lettuce (which you can’t see in this picture, it was buried) was wilted and rotting. Like, not just a little old but actually melted and slimy in some parts. And it wasn’t just a tiny bit, it was a fair amount of slimy lettuce. That’s fricking gross.

It took a while but we eventually flagged down our waitress to send it back. She did ask if he wanted a replacement but obviously he didn’t. I would expect a way better salad from a vegan restaurant to tell you the truth.  Even without the rotten bits, the presentation was boring, the salad was bland, the lettuce seemed like it was from a bagged mix, the almond dust “parmesan” on top was nothing special, there wasn’t much taste or pizzazz… What’s the point, really? At least the waitress took it off our bill but it was definitely a let-down.

Hogtown Vegan Chickn and Waffles | thelittleredspoon.com

I would say overall my meal was probably the best one. Slightly less sloppy, and definitely more interesting. I love a good fried veggie chicken. Here the texture was nice and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. I liked the combination of flavours and textures on the plate. Getting a forkful with a little bit of everything on it was quite nice.

I’ve never had chicken and waffles before so I was really looking forward to this. Everything was really tasty and I definitely enjoyed it. The only problem is I was super full from trying all of our appetizers and sampling everyone else’s food (visiting a vegan restaurant is the only time when I get to sample other people’s food so I always take full advantage ) that I had to take most of it home for leftovers.

Hogtown Vegan Leftovers | thelittleredspoon.com

Luckily my leftovers were just as good for lunch the next day, maybe even better because the syrup had really soaked into the waffles and I drizzled a little extra on top. Yum.

Overall, though, I don’t think I would go back to the Hogtown Vegan after our first experience there. It was interesting and I’m glad I got to try it, I thought the prices here were pretty reasonable (except the $10 disappointing Caesar), even our pints were only $5 that day. However, the service was really not that great and we could’ve had a better time.

One thing that was annoying was we ordered three appetizers to share among us, and after a few short minutes (we weren’t even halfway through them) ALL three of our entrees came out as well. So the table was absolutely crowded with all of our dishes and all of the food was going cold before we could finish eating anything. This place is meant to be casual, but I’m sure this is still a pet peeve for anyone, regardless of whether they’re in a pub or a fine dining restaurant.

This place is really not that close to me either, so for me personally that’s a factor as to why I most likely won’t make the trek back out. I could potentially see myself popping in here for a beer and to split a plate of vegan nachos again but I wouldn’t tell someone from out of town “oh, you HAVE to go here!”

If you’re really keen on checking out their signature dish of chicken and waffles, I would say go ahead and try for yourself. I truly did want to like this place and maybe one day I’ll give it a second chance, but for now it’s not on my short list of places I need to go back to or tell everyone about.

Have you been to Hogtown Vegan in Dovercourt Park neighbourhood? Know a different cool vegan joint with kick-ass chicken and waffles? Leave a comment to let me know about it.

The Hogtown Vegan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushi on Bloor

This place was so cute! Popped in for lunch on a work day and tried their lunch special. Right away we were served water, green tea, salad (not pictured but it was a basic iceberg lettuce salad), and miso soup.

Sushi on Bloor Lunch Menu | thelittleredspoon.com

I chose to order from this menu and got and Oyster Mushroom and Avocado roll from column A and a Sweet Potato Maki roll from Column B.

Sushi on Bloor Lunch Menu P2 | thelittleredspoon.com

You could also order non-sushi lunch meals but what fun is that?

Sushi on Bloor Miso Soup | thelittleredspoon.com

The miso soup was nice. Perfect temperature for sipping right away and I like a good amount of seaweed. Yum.

Sushi on Bloor Lunch Rolls | thelittleredspoon.com

The rolls themselves were great! This was the perfect amount of food for a quick work lunch. We had an hour break and were able to make it back just in time.

I would definitely go here again. It was quick, tasty, and definitely affordable. Check out Sushi on Bloor if you’re ever in the Harbord Village neighbourhood.

Sushi On Bloor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Doomie’s

West on Queen St. W. in Parkdale neighbourhood is a totally bad-ass, totally vegan junk food joint called Doomie’s. I first heard about this place on Blog T.O. and was very intrigued. Vegan big mac? With animal-style fries? Uh, I’m IN. Those are omni foods that I’m 100% jealous of. I do not crave meat but I do sometimes crave disgustingly over-the-top crazy unhealthy food creations that are so bad they’re good.

Basically, what I’m saying is, if you ever invent a vegan double down sandwich, I’m game. And this place seems to have that same kind of attitude. In fact, you can’t even order a salad here. There are no freshly-squeezed, cold-pressed organic juices. There is no kombucha. There is only greasy, wonderful, drippy, messy, heavenly comfort food.

Doomies South in Yer Mouth | thelittleredspoon.com

I came here with my mum on a weekday night to scope it out. I knew this place was expensive so I brought the lady who taught me how to be frugal to come split an entree with me. NGL – we both drank water, shared one meal and left without getting drinks or dessert and with tax and tip (and our upgrade on the fries) the bill somehow still crept up to $25.76. Yikes! We shared and both felt that it was enough food (if I had this by myself I would’ve had to get a takeout container for sure), but one really hungry person could probably eat the whole thing. Especially because of the fact that it was FUCKING DELICIOUS!

Doomies Xtra Fun Philly Fries | thelittleredspoon.com

We upgraded from plain fries to “Xtra Fun Fries” for $5 – these were the “Philly Fries”, they came with vegan philly cheese steak style meat, peppers, onions and cheese whiz. Holy crap, this picture doesn’t begin to convey how good they were. Crispy, perfectly cooked, dripping with tasty grease.. The meat was great, they were piping hot……. Just, the best fries a hungry person could want. I can’t imagine how fricking amazing these would be if you were drunk. And anyone would love them. The whole point of this restaurant is that vegans can bring their non-vegan friends here and not hear them bitching about how “gross” vegan food is. Because they will be too busy shoving the food in their mouths to complain about anything.

Doomies South in Yer Mouth Bite | thelittleredspoon.com

The sandwich we tried was called a “South In Yer Mouth” – vegan BBQ pulled pork with pickles, piled high with mac and cheese on a toasted bun. Sooo good. As someone who’s been veggie since I was basically a kid, I have actually never tried real pulled pork. But I can tell you that this sandwich is damn good, whether it’s a perfect dead-on match for the real thing or not. Wowzers. It was very filling! Definitely comfort food. I loved the tangy sauce on the meat contrasted with the creamy, familiar mac and cheese and soft white bun.

I really loved the food at this place and want to go back eventually. Really, the main thing stopping me is the fact that it’s quite expensive (at least compared to the non-vegan foods being imitated). However, the quality is there to back up the prices. Everything is crafted really well, the taste is phenomenal, you can tell there’s a lot of care taken. Plus everything is totally vegan and cruelty-free, so of course that makes it worth it for me right there.

I think two of the comments on Blog T.O.’s website’s comments section sums this up well:

Jep Ingram ·

Big Mac: $4.99
Vegan Big Mac: $16
That’s it right there.

Anthony Campbell

$4.99 is the price of the item, but not the cost.

Google “the real cost of fast food” and you’ll find that what’s not included in the 5 bucks are environmental costs, social costs (for poverty-line wages and benefits), health costs, and animal welfare. Moreover, the more reasonable comparison, price-wise, would be with a Burger’s Priest burger or Holy Chuck burger–both of which also have environmental, social, health, and animal welfare costs that are not factored into their pricing.

Check out Doomie’s on Queen West and let me know what you think! I’ll be sure to post a sexy, greasy, messy Instagram pic of my food next time I’m there and I hope you do, too.

Doomie's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Red Curry Lentils

I tried this recipe from Vegelicious Kitchen and WOW – these lentils are amazing!!

Red curry lentils made with creamy coconut milk. I whipped these up so quickly and easily, this is definitely going to be one of my staple recipes.

Red Lentil Curry with Naan | thelittleredspoon.com

I had most of this stuff in my kitchen already – mirepoix, veggie broth, spices, full-fat canned coconut milk and red split lentils. The only thing I didn’t have that I had to go pick up was red curry paste, which I found in the “asian” aisle of my usual grocery store.

Red Lentil Curry Mise en Place | thelittleredspoon.com

If you don’t already use turmeric, you should totally get on that craze. Vegans love it because it adds a lovely bright yellow colour to tofu scramble (scrambled eggs substitute), or anything else for that matter. I’ve heard that turmeric can have a lot of health benefits, too. I’m not a nutritionist but from what I’ve read about it, the claims do seem pretty legit. I’m not going to be a crazy person and be like, drinking a turmeric tea any time soon, but I figure if I can sneak it into savoury dishes where you won’t even notice it anyway, why not?

Pot of Red Lentil Curry | thelittleredspoon.com

I was so glad I had some extra naan left over from another dinner to dip into these scrumptious lentils. So good! My boyfriend tried some too and definitely approved of this recipe.

How fancy are you going to feel when you whip up your own flavourful lentil curry from scratch? I swear this is one of those recipes that literally anyone can put together (yes, even you!) and dress up to look really nice with sides and garnishes. And obviously it makes wonderful leftovers for work lunches. This is a huge factor for me when planning my cooking and recipe development since I work full-time. I like my leftovers! You may find that these lentils thicken up overnight while sitting in the fridge. That’s fine, you can add a little water before reheating them and it will come right back to a more soup-y consistency. And it won’t taste weirdly watery. This recipe is definitely substantial enough to survive a couple of tablespoons of water added since it’s very thick and flavourful.

 

Red Lentil Curry | thelittleredspoon.com

Once again I used this recipe with permission from Debra at Vegelicious Kitchen – check out her website for more awesome vegetarian and vegan recipes. I’ve loved everything she’s posted!

Red Curry Lentils
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp diced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp powdered ginger
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced
  • ½ tsp salt (plus more later to taste)
  • 2½ tsp curry powder (I used more to taste)
  • 1½ tsp turmeric (I went crazy and added a few Tbsp but do what you like)
  • 1-2 Tbsp red curry paste (start with less and add more as you taste)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes and juice
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (reserve a small amount to drizzle on top when serving, optional)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste
  • 2 - 4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Parsley, cilantro or basil, minced for garnish
Instructions
  1. Saute the diced mirepoix in coconut oil until soft, add garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the spices and curry paste and cook in oil 1-2 minutes to release flavour.
  3. Add can of diced tomatoes and most of the can of coconut milk. (keep some aside for drizzling on top later)
  4. Add veggie broth, lentils, and bay leaves, stir and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
  5. When the lentils are cooked, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  6. Turn off heat and add fresh lime juice.
  7. Drizzle with coconut milk and chopped basil to garnish. Serve with rice or naan as desired.

Soo good! I know I’ll be coming back to this one when the weather gets cooler.

Red Lentil Curry with Lime and Naan | thelittleredspoon.com

Let me know if you make a batch of these melt in your mouth red curry lentils with coconut milk and leave a comment below!

Tofurky Pepp’roni Pockets

Tofurky hot pockets????? YAAAAS! That’s what I’m talking about!

Tofurky Pocket Served | thelittleredspoon.com

I love eating fresh, raw produce for a meal as much as the next vegan, but man, some times you just want to chow down on some nostalgic, processed, super-lazy junk food. Like those times when you get home from a crazy day at work and can’t even think straight. When its time to just laze on the couch in your sweatpants and have a beer and frozen dinner when you get home. That’s what these are for.

Tofurky Pocket with Box | thelittleredspoon.com

Actually I think they make a good lunch too, I eat these when I just don’t feel like making something, but want to eat something super easy when I’m writing or derping around on the internet. (Watching videos on YouTube is like my guilty pleasure when I’m home for the day, especially while I’m eating)

Tofurky Pocket | thelittleredspoon.com

I just wanted to share these with you guys to let you know – THEY ARE NOT GROSS! They are actually pretty tasty! I think they’re a wonderful alternative to regular pizza pops or whatever greasy omnivore crap you’re into. And they’re even kinda fancy for what they are. They have a nice flakey crust and the filling is actually pretty tasty. I’ve only tried the pepp’roni flavour so far, there are also “BBQ Chick’n” and “Turk’y Broccoli and Cheddar” flavours which I definitely want to try out. I love Tofurky brand so whenever I see something tasty and vegan from them in my local Whole Foods store (or anywhere) I always want to try it out. Tofurky also makes great vegan pizzas too! (WITH vegan cheese!) And they’re good!

Tofurky Pocket Bitten | thelittleredspoon.com

The filling is really good! I love keeping a box of these in the freezer. And throwing them in the microwave is as easy as it gets. (I like to microwave them according to the directions, then toast them in my toaster oven for another 2-3 minutes to get them a pretty golden-brown colour on the outside. Food tastes better when it looks better )

And just so you know, I was NOT paid for this post (I will put a disclaimer at the top for any paid content if a brand does decide to work with me), I just sincerely like these things. Check ’em out next time you see them in your grocery store or Whole Foods. They’re tasty!

Drop a comment to let me know if you like these vegan hot pockets too.

Glassroots

These pictures don’t do the food justice…

Glassroots Cheese Plate | thelittleredspoon.com

Mr. Spoon and I were in London, ON earlier this month and were super excited to try out the coolest new restaurant in town – Glassroots! We started off with a cheese plate and charcuterie platter to share. These cheeses were fricking amazing. They were all totally vegan Nuts For Cheese cashew cheeses! When you go vegan you sometimes really miss just munching out on a big plate of cheese, pickles and bread. Well at Chef Yoda’s restaurant, you can do that! Everything on this board tasted incredible. I still have dreams about eating this cheese board. And you better believe I’m going back in a few months to do it again..

That combination of soft, creamy cheese on a crisp toasted baguette… Mmm.. You just have to try for yourself.

Glassroots Charcuterie Plate | thelittleredspoon.com

The charcuterie included (clockwise from 12) house-made red lentil pepperoni, baguette toasts, pickled beets, pickled garlic greens, mustard, field roast sausage and a nice green mushroom and garlic pate. Everything was so delicious. Even Mr. Spoon (a definite meat-eater) who tends to be very discerning about vegan meat whole-heartedly approved of the pepperoni and sausage. (And everything else on these boards)

Glassroots Charcuterie | thelittleredspoon.com

Those pickles tho That sausage I’m drooling just re-living the moments when I was eating this tasty food. Take me back!  I wish this restaurant existed back when I still lived in London so I could eat there all the time.

Glassroots Beet Burger | thelittleredspoon.com

I ordered the beet burger which came with a candy-striped beet salad on the side. So good! So juicy, so smothered in tasty vegan toppings…. Oh man, now I want to eat this all over again, too! This picture doesn’t even slightly capture the deliciousness here, guys. I wish I could have done it justice but I was too excited to dig it to be fiddling around with my camera for too long. The bun was heavenly soft. The patty was the perfect texture, moist and juicy and not totally crumbling to bits. (like when I make my veggie burgers lol) Topped with more beets and greens and dripping with tasty vegan mayo. It’s like being in vegan heaven!!!

Glassroots BBQ Plate | thelittleredspoon.com

Mr. Spoon ordered the BBQ plate which was creamy vegan potato salad, grilled cauliflower steak, cauliflower buffalo wings, and grilled stuffed cheesy zucchini. Oh man! I wished I had enough room in my stomach to eat both of our dinners! And then polish off the rest of the menu! Holy smokes everything was so tasty and actually healthy! We both ate a lot and didn’t feel like bloated pieces of junk after. I’m telling you now, book this place for valentine’s day or a romantic special occasion and you will be so happy you did. Because you can eat tasty, healthy food to your heart’s content and not feel like you need to pull on your sweatpants after dinner. I mean I don’t know if you can tell from these pictures, but you can tell from eating the food here that everything is made with so much love and attention to detail. It’s amazing.

Glassroots Shortcake Cookie | thelittleredspoon.com

So not being too disgustingly full (side-note, I’ve been asked this question before and YES vegans can get disgustingly full on unhealthy junk food just like omnivores) meant we could order dessert! Yay. This was awesome because the dessert for the week we visited was strawberry shortcake cookies piled high with vegan meringue and delicious juicy ripe strawberries.

Glassroots Strawberry Shortcake Dessert | thelittleredspoon.com

O. M. G. Strawberry heaven

I don’t usually go in for desserts but this was the good stuff. So light, fresh, airy and juicy. It was sweet and tart and fluffy and the dense shortbread cookie was just right. Amazing combination.

Chef Yoda’s food is out of this world. You will feel so welcomed and comfortable here. You can even bring your dog to the patio outside! Which means Shaggy will definitely be coming for a visit one day.

They even have a ton of amazing vegan wine options and a friendly sommelier to guide you through them. (Surprised that not all wine is vegan? It’s true!) Mike Fish, Chef Yoda’s partner and co-owner of the restaurant will help you find your new favourite vegan wine.

I seriously can’t recommend this restaurant enough. You need to go here. Now.
Like, if you don’t live in London, get in a car and drive there. Not joking. And when you do go there, send me pictures of all the amazing food you’re eating so I can fantasize that I’m eating there, too.

Glassroots Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Beet Cafe

Beet Cafe Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl | thelittleredspoon.com

Mr. Spoon and I visited London, Ontario two weeks ago and hit up the London Food Fest

We had a tasty dinner in Victoria Park from The Beet Cafe booth – a pop-up restaurant that’s only open during festivals in London and run by Growing Chefs Ontario. Pretty cool!

I tried a Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl. It was really good and I felt extra healthy walking around eating kale and hemp seeds while being surrounded by deep fried food on all sides. (But don’t get me wrong, we had some deep fried junk and other snacks too)

Beet Cafe Menu | thelittleredspoon.com

Three choices of bowls, two sizes.

Beet Cafe Drinks Sign | thelittleredspoon.com

We tried a Booch ginger-flavoured organic kombucha. Booch is a local company in London.  It was really tasty. We’re totally on board with that kombucha trend – I’m brewing some in our kitchen right now.

Beet Cafe Sign with Pictures | thelittleredspoon.com

Mr. Spoon tried a pulled pork burrito bowl. He said it was very good but unfortunately had some cilantro in it which he doesn’t like.

Beet Cafe Pulled Pork Box | thelittleredspoon.com

What a fun night! Veganism is really catching on, there were plenty of booths offering veggie options. And of course, cotton candy is always vegan…

Chicken Taco Soup

Chicken Taco Soup Napkin | thelittleredspoon.com

Chicken Taco Soup…. aka my favourite excuse to eat nachos for dinner.

Okay, so, it’s not technically chicken. But I always make this taco soup with some kind of vegan “chick’n” and it just wouldn’t be the same soup without it.

I’ve tried various vegan chicken strips over the years and I have to say, Tofurky’s Slow-Roasted, Lightly Seasoned Chick’n is the best by far. For a long time I would use Yves Veggie Chick’n Tenders since that was the only brand of chicken strips available to me. Now I live and work in downtown Toronto where there is a beautiful, bountiful Whole Foods full of delicious vegan options nearby that stocks tasty meat substitutes like Tofurky Chick’n and Tofurky Pepp’roni Pockets (uhhhhhh vegan hot pockets??? YES PLEASE). Not to make this sound like a Tofurky commercial (I’m not getting paid for this) but dang, they are one awesome brand. I have yet to find something made by them that I didn’t love.
Chicken Taco Soup Mise en Place | thelittleredspoon.com

This recipe is literally so easy. It’s one of the main reasons I keep coming back to it again and again. The other reason being, you know, the nachos. Really all you need to throw this together is a couple of cans, a packet of taco seasoning and some toppings.

Chicken Taco Soup in Pot | thelittleredspoon.com

My vegan version of this recipe is based on this recipe that I’ve been using for years.

Chicken Taco Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can mixed beans (or legumes of your choice)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (aka strained tomatoes)
  • 1 jar passata
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 package low sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 package vegan chick'n strips
  • optional: 1 can diced green chilis, handful of baby spinach
  • optional toppings: vegan sour cream, vegan cheese shreds, crushed tortilla chips, green onion
Instructions
  1. Dice and saute onion. Cook until soft and translucent. (I bring them to almost caramelized but this is optional)
  2. Add 1 can black beans, 1 can mixed beans (or chili beans, or chickpeas, or whatever you like. I used chickpeas here but pinto beans, kidney beans and black eyed peas also work well), 1 can diced tomatoes with liquid, 1 jar passata, frozen corn kernels and package of taco seasoning.
  3. In a separate pan, cook vegan chick'n strips in oil until golden brown and slightly crispy. I like to pull them apart into even smaller shreds with my fingers before cooking - you might be surprised how realistic the texture can be with vegan products, it really is similar to shredded chicken!
  4. Add cooked chick'n strips and cook on medium-low heat covered, approximately 20 minutes. You can cook longer (you could definitely make this in a slow cooker) or eat as soon as its thrown together if you're hungry. Great either way. (I added a handful of baby spinach when it was done cooking for a nice dash of green but you could also add green onion, cilantro or leave out the green all together).
  5. Top with vegan sour cream, vegan cheese shreds and crushed tortilla chips.

 

Chicken Taco Soup Chips | thelittleredspoon.com

So what do you think? Ready to try this incredibly easy, tasty soup? It makes the perfect weeknight dinner because it’s so simple to throw together, and you’ll definitely want the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Chicken Taco Soup | thelittleredspoon.com

Just pack your lunch-nachos separately so they don’t get soggy. And then be prepared to fend off your hungry co-workers who are totally jealous that you’re using nachos to scoop food into your mouth instead of a boring old spoon like some basic person.

Chicken Taco Soup Served with Nachos | thelittleredspoon.com

Seriously, did I mention the nachos?

Drop a comment to let me know if you make this recipe. It’s seriously one of my favourite, most-used recipes EVER and I’m really excited to share it with you guys.

BBQ Chickpea Salad

BBQ Chickpea Salad | thelittleredspoon.com

Hoooly smokes! You guys gotta check out this TASTY recipe for BBQ Chickpea Salad from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken! And while you’re there check out, um, I don’t know, EVERYTHING on her entire site, cause this girl rocks! She’s a fellow Toronto vegan blogger with a cookbook in the works! Can’t wait to see it when it comes out cause her recipes are the bomb. I’m going to be using so many of them this summer, like her Creamy Cilantro Lime Corn on the CobLove me some fresh summer corn!

I swapped out carrot ribbons for red onion but kept everything else pretty much the same.

For my dressing, I just whipped something up with what I had on hand – a handful of cashews (I was too lazy to soak them so I just cooked them covered in water in the microwave for 2 minutes to soften them), a couple of spoonfuls of veganaise, garlic, salt, white pepper, nutritional yeast and a few little basil leaves plucked off of my windowsill basil plant. Turned out pretty good!

Check out this salad on It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken and leave me a comment here too to let me know what you think!