At the end of august we made our first real trip to ottawa and took in all the vegan delights the nation's capital has to offer! Our friends John and Jill are the official authorities on all things vegan, not just in ottawa but around the world. They're the duo behind vegancuts monthly subscription box and used to run a blog called vegan backpacker so we were happy to have them be our guides.
First stop, cafe my house. John was joining me a few days later so unfortunately he missed out on eating at the best vegan restaurant in the city! It was so cute and comfy, just like being at someone's house for dinner. The menu changes by the season and is local as much as possible. I wouldn't necessarily go here with people who aren't vegan or vegetarian as it's definitely a carefully crafted menu full of the fare and acquired tastes of the experienced plant based eater, but they do have a great cocktail menu that anyone can get down with. I started with the frozen green grapes which is an amazing mix of fresh ginger, frozen grapes, and sake. The oyster mushroom scallops with white wine caper sauce were incredible and the sauce was extremely delicious I nearly licked the plate! Now, the entree I ordered was cauliflower panna cotta and lima bean falafel. That's why I said this place is only for experienced plant based eaters. I totally get why someone might not get too turned on by this dish based on it's appearance or ingredients. I'm a vegan food snob who can be very picky about restaurant food, but this dish was really flavourful and delicious and everything complimented each other well on the plate. But hold up, doesn't that chocolate cake look divine?! Oh it was... and can you believe I ate all of this by myself!
verdict: this is the best crafted vegan food in the city with great flavours, ideas, and ingredients being served up. It's for the real vegans!
Let's talk about baked goods! There are a few vegan bakeries in ottawa and we only managed to make it to one. Which is a bummer, because I've heard great things about auntie loo's treats! Instead we hit up strawberry blonde bakery which was super cute and very very scrumptious. After trying their treats it's hard to believe they're all vegan, gluten free, and nut free. There wasn't a ton of things in the case, but it was all about quality over quantity. All of the cookies were done like sandwiches with icing and the oatmeal raisin cookies with maple icing almost made me faint they were so good! We also had a savoury tofu hot pocket that was really delicious, but it didn't make a nice picture.
verdict: you have to go here... the cookies will haunt your dreams (in a good way)!
house of targ was by far the coolest place we went to in ottawa. It's a punk rock arcade with old school games and pinball machines. Now, don't hyperventilate, but they have vegan perogies! They're so friggin' awesome only a wizard could have come up with the recipe. And we lucked out too because our friends said they've been checking in on this place quite often and they never seem to have the vegan perogies available as advertised. But I think all this time they were just perfecting the perogie dough or soaking tons of cashews. I can't believe they serve a cashew dill sour cream on the side. The prep time and expense seems too crazy for a punk rock venue like this, but they're doing it and it's the bomb!
verdict: we've never had vegan perogies like this, ever! So get your game faces on because you have to do a night in ottawa at house of targ.
We might have had the best sandwich of our lives at pressed urban gourmet sandwich bar. This place knows sandwiches and they've got 3 fantastic vegan ones on the menu. I died and went to heaven eating the eggplant tempura sandwich and I typically hate eggplant. I think it's a terrible food that no one knows how to prepare and despise when it's on restaurant menus as the only option for a vegan or vegetarian. But this sandwich was inspiring! The eggplant was prepared to perfection and melts in your mouth. I'm now on a mission to recreate this sandwich for the blog. The falafel sandwich was also really flavourful and filling, and they serve the sandwiches with house made sweet potato chips as well, which I thought was a nice touch. I really fell in love with this place once I noticed a whole rack of indie zines you could purchase. When is the last time you saw a zine!
verdict: no matter what, you better get hungry and go for lunch at pressed.
We are extremely envious of you ottawa vegans that get your very own cool local coffee shop chain that sells supremely delicious vegan take away. Bridgehead was the first company in canada to offer fair trade coffee and there are 15 locations in ottawa. My god, please come to toronto! This massive sunflower seed pate sandwich was so good and mimicked tuna salad in a way that's hard to come by. On another day I had the quinoa cake salad (not pictured) and a gluten free vegan peanut butter cookie. It's amazing that these vegan options, plus a daily soup, are available in all locations every single day.
verdict: the sandwich is a must try if you're vegan and you'll end up here at least once just because there are so many locations for such a small city. Plus the coffee is good!
zen kitchen will come up in your search for vegan restaurants, but I personally didn't have a good experience here. We don't want to bad mouth a place, but we also want to warn you. There has apparently been some internal drama and politics with this place too and I think it shows in the menu. It's a little all over the place with influence from asia, mexico, italy, and france, honestly it's sort of pretentious. I won't get into our dinner, however, I recommend coming here for dessert. There's 7 things on the dessert menu which is a nice selection to choose from. This lemon meringue tart was really great and I haven't had a lemon meringue-like dessert since becoming vegan. We also shared the peanut butter and chocolate pie which was truly outstanding.
verdict: we think you'll only be zen with an after dinner drink and dessert from this place.
I'll give a quick mention to the wild oat bakery & cafe (817 bank street). If you're in the hood and need a bite this is a good vegan friendly spot. However, it's got that hippie vibe where things happen at a snails pace and no one seems to care too much that you're there. Despite the weird ordering process and complication with substitutions, my meal was really tasty and they have a huge selection of vegan baked goods you can take to-go.
verdict: if you're hungry and close to it then try it, but don't go out of your way to eat here.