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Commensal Vegetarian Foods – Restaurant Review

May 21, 2010

Who knew a dreaded trip to Canadian Tire would work out in my favour!

It was 8pm and I was still at the office.  I desperately wanted to be on my couch, writing a blog post and eating leftover Fresh takeout.  On the other hand, I also wanted to scratch “Buy Canadian Tire stuff” off my to do list, once and for all.  Since I was working out of the King and Bay office and the weather was gorgeous, I had very few excuses for postponing a quick stroll to the conveniently located Canadian Tire on Dundas St.  

My stomach was growling as I made my way up Bay St.  I knew my shopping excursion would be increasingly painful if I didn’t get something inside me first.  So I frantically scanned the side streets for something to nosh on.  Then I had my foodie “aha” moment.  I knew just the place! 

 

LOCATION:   655 Bay St. Toronto, ON.  Just north of the Eaton Centre.

THE MENU:  There isn’t a menu per se since this place is buffet style .   Buffets have such a bad rep, because we immediately think of Mandarin Chinese Restaurants that are teeming with fried foods.   Not here.  Commensal is a vegetarian buffet that also offers gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free menu items.  There are 3 sections:  Hot Buffet (chili, lasagna, tofu, stirfries, etc), a Cold Buffet (salads, fresh veggies) and Dessert Buffet (cakes, cookies, puddings).   Each buffet item is labelled to make the experience a breeze for any with food restrictions.  

MY ORDER:   I started with my usual pre-scanning of all the choices, scoping out those with the “GF” label.  You want to make sure you know what’s on the buffet menu so you can leave enough room for everything you want to try.  Tonight my stomach and I didn’t have the patience to scan all the buffet  items.  We wanted some food. Now!  So I randomly started scooping anything that caught my eye into my takeout container.  

I know many people who prefer their foods compartmentalized into individual sections, and are probably cringing at the sight of my meal.  As you can tell, I’m not particularly anal about different foods touching each other.  My hot veggies are spilling onto my cold lentil salad.  And the curry sauce is starting to blend with the tomato-based ratatouille.   It’s all the same to me.  Won’t look much better once it’s in our belly:)  

  • Lentil Salad – This was one of many prepared salad options.  Potato salad, bean salad, grain salads, beet and apple salad.  I could go on and on.  Lentils were my choice because they are high in iron and being anemic, my naturopath suggested I eat more of them. 
  • Steam Veggies – I love that the veggies are lightly cooked.  They aren’t boiled to death and don’t fall apart when you touch them. 
  • Ratatouille – This is a wonderful blend of stewed eggplant, bell peppers, onions, and other veggies in a thick tomato sauce.  This was a staple while growing up so I always gravitate to it when I’m here.
  • Tofu Curry – I’m a saucy person and Commensal offers a good variety of saucy dishes like curries, stews, chilis.   Some with seitan (a wheat protein), others with tofu or simply veggies.  The one thing they’re lacking is tempeh (fermented soy that’s better for you).  I’ll have to look into this. 

 

THE SCENE:  The one thing that’s standard between Commensal’s buffet and others –  it’s very casual.  There are a number of tables scattered around if you wish to eat there.  Although, having this option just makes it easier to get up and go for seconds (bad news for anyone with ‘hard to satisfy’ appetite like mine).   You can also tackle some of your grocery shopping at Commensal.  They have a variety of packaged vegetarian foods available for purchase, including snacks, cereals, energy bars, frozen foods and the list goes on.  

THE DAMAGE:  Not surprising that there’s no “all you can eat” option here.  Giving people the option to eat themselves into a frenzy doesn’t quite fit with their mantra of healthy eating.  Instead you pay for your dish by weight.   This is where you need self-control, otherwise the weight adds up – on your plate and your backside!   My takeout container (with the food, of course) came in at $12.95 with tax.    Good news is that there’s no tip, unless you’re feeling overly generous.  So it may cost you less than eating out at places like Fresh.

YOU SHOULD GO IF:

  • You’re shopping at the Eaton Centre and the hunger’s kicking in, but Mrs.Vanelli’s in the food court isn’t cutting it.
  • You know you want something healthy but not one thing in particular (and not another salad). 
  • Time is of the essence.  you want to get in, get food, and get out.  Healthy fast food at its finest.
  • You’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free or nut-free.  One stop shopping, no headaches!
  • Commensal Fine Vegetarian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2010 5:53 pm

    Thanks Dave on both fronts! I’ll have to get you two down to Toronto to check out a few of these places. Lauren will be a happy camper:)

  2. May 22, 2010 2:39 pm

    1. Congrats on the house!!

    2. This is awesome Danielle! I didn’t even know you had a blog. I’m not in TO too often, but will definitely be checking here to see what you have to say about some place next time I go. I already sent this one to Lauren (she’s a vegetarian).

  3. May 22, 2010 10:42 am

    Finally, some healthy food choices in Toronto! What a rarity.

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