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Live Organic Food Bar

Posted on February 15, 2012 by in The Annex

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3 stars

-  “So, are you going to eat a steak first?”

“You might want to sneak some meat in with you.”

“Enjoy your…vegetables.”

These were not uncommon responses from folks when I said I’d be heading to Live Food Bar. I too was skeptical but went along for the ride anyways when a friend suggested we go. While perusing the online menu, I was genuinely stumped as to what I would get. I already eat at least one – but generally several – vegetarian meals a week, so I’m not opposed to eating a meal with no meat. But Live is a vegan, organic restaurant that features recipes without gluten, without sugar and certainly without any animal products which is outside my culinary experience. If you happen to feel the same way, I suggest you go with an open mind as Live has an excellent reputation and it is well earned.

I settled in to the table at the front, which has a great view of the world walking by, of the bright, cheerful restaurant. While I waited for my dining companions, I had a look through the drink list and eventually settled on a bottle Mill Street Organic. (Should I come back in the summer, I will definitely sample the cocktails on the lovely patio!) When the ladies arrived, we ordered a bottle of organic cabernet sauvignon and started going over the menu for the millionth time. It is an extensive list with dishes that should appeal to just about all diners. Appetizers, salads, bowls, mains, pasta, dessert: Live certainly does not lack for choice. The three of us agreed that we wanted to try the chick pea fries, so we ordered those while attempting to make a decision.

Finally, we made our choices: raw sushi with pumpkin & sunflower seed nori rolls and a detox salad; “Bacon Cheese” burger; and tempeh cakes with a warm corn, avocado and white wine salsa. Orders placed, we tucked into our wine and the chick pea fries which arrived shortly thereafter. Crispy on the outside, piping hot and soft on the inside, this non-traditional take on a staple hit the spot, especially with the homemade BBQ sauce on the side.

Our mains arrived in a timely manner, and we hungrily tucked in to them. The sushi roll had a great combination of flavour and texture. I was a little jealous of not ordering that one for myself, but my giant plate of food was more than enough. The tempeh (an Indonesian soybean product) cakes were piled high on top of the wonderful salsa that was accompanied by a spicy chipotle aioli. If you’re hungry, get this dish. It was undoubtedly for the best that I did not order an appetizer, as well as the cakes and sides were so surprisingly good that I was nearly scraping my plate.

As for the “cheese bacon” burger, it passed the taste test. The patty consisted of chick peas and had macadamia cheddar “cheese” and eggplant “bacon.” I can see your eyebrows raising. The eggplant had a smoky flavour and was quite good, though certainly not bacon. The cheese in question was a bit of a head-scratcher, though not unpleasant. The gluten-free bun was nicely toasted and the BBQ sauce was a great touch.

Since we had already gone through much of the menu, we thought we should give dessert a whirl. All the desserts are kept on display in near the back of the restaurant, and there is quite an array from which to choose. We opted for two: the tiramisu and the Black Forrest cake. Now, my Italian friends would be horrified to find a tiramisu without real cream, but it really was quite good with a strong, but not overpowering, taste of espresso. Similarly, the Black Forrest cake was rich, creamy and cut nicely with the cherries on top. No complaints – I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing out.

Live has a great vibe to it and customers were constantly arriving either to have a seated meal or to pick up their take-out orders. The music is at just the right volume and the staff is friendly and accommodating. We were there for several hours and never felt rushed, nor got the idea that we were no longer welcome. Food arrives promptly and with a smile, water bottles are refilled, and the service is relaxed. So take your vegetarian friends, take your carnivorous friends: they will likely all be satisfied. The portions are well-sized and, most importantly, the food is delicious.

- Carolyn

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