400 Sherbrooke Est (at the corner of St-Denis) | Tel: (514) 848-0513
o say that this restaurant suffers from a terrible storefront would be putting it gently. This "creative vegetarian" spot is in a building with a tanning salon and a hippy clothing store, each with their own signs out front, and all three sharing one common entrance. I've lived within a block for over 4 years, and I've never been brave enough to enter.
But today it was rainy, and I guess I was feeling just brave/bored enough. I've also received a number of requests from readers for more vegetarian reviews. Hey, they didn't specificy 'good' reviews, just veggie-friendly...
Well, if this resto suffers from a bad storefront, it also seems to suffer from not knowing what kind of place it is. The menu ranges from Thai (Pad Thai), to Chinese (General Tao, hot and sour soup), and sushi. And keep in mind that it's vegetarian.
It's all made with mock meat, faux-fish, and flavoured soy product. André ordered General Tao with wonton soup to start, four pieces of sushi, and some kind of pastry with coffee for dessert ($16.88). I ordered 3 different kinds of sushi with hot and sour soup ($16.46). There was a lunch buffet available for $9.99 but buffets generally make me nervous (lukewarm food, lingering for hours). This buffet, though, looked pretty good and I may go back again for lunch through the week when it's only $6.99.
The vegetarian adventure started out surprisingly well. We were seated in a large booth, the kind with low tables and cushions where you have to take your shoes off. The soups arrived quickly and the side salads were very good, with a lovely vinaigrette made of rice wine vinegar and lots of ginger. Everything was 'a little bit unusual', but good.
wonton soup, hot and sour soup, side salads with great vinaigrette
'California' roll with red pepper, avocado, and fishy soy protein
The sushi was also excellent, if unusual. The fishy soy protein had more flavour than the usual fake crab found in Montreal versions of California rolls. The 'smoked cheese' sushi I ordered didn't really taste much like the creamed cheese inside, but wowie it tasted fabulously of dried smoky fish, and it was great.
smoked cheese sushi
Now the meal took a turn drastically downhill. There was a very long pause between my lunch (sushi) and the arrival of André's, perhaps 20 minutes. We ate my sushi, drank tea, looked around, took pictures, and waited.
And then his meal came, and really, what can I say that the photo doesn't say for itself:
vegetarian General Tao
A small scoop of wild rice, a pile of uniform balls covered in what tasted like jarred sauce, plain broccoli a bit undercooked, and seaweed with a sweet sesame coating.
Let's start with the presentation -- anyone notice the gaping large white space on the left side of the plate? How about the rotation? Isn't the main protein of the meal supposed to be set in front of you at the 6 o'clock position? (she says, as her waitress-past-life sneaks out of the closet).
But worse, much worse than the plate itself, were the lukewarm balls of fluff. I opened several in search of the chickeny-flavoured-soy-protein, and yes, there were bits of something, but not much really. It was mostly a lot of puffy breading. It was edible, not a complete disaster, but it was very, very unspecial, and not something we'd ever order again.
So, a rainy Saturday lunch that started off as pleasantly pleasing veered directly into a dead-end with the main dish. I would be happy to eat the sushi again, and maybe someday I'll be brave enough to have the buffet and try some of the other Chinese glazed fake veggie dishes to see if there's anything better than Mr. Tao's puff balls. – Reviewed by Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu (Oct/07)
[Shelley's on loan to MontrealFood from her new home at www.OneRoastChicken.com]