464 McGill St/St Maurice
Telephone: (514) 287-1155
Cost: $ 73,72- tax, tip included
Chef Hats: 3.5
Restaurant LOV is the perfect haven for vegetarian foodies. The name is actually an acronym meaning Local, Organic and Vegetarian and not Love of Vegetarian, but this could be also said of this beautifully decorated and hip restaurant that appeared on the Montreal food scene late in December 2016.
Started and owned by Dominic Bujold of Pizzeria 900 & Crudessence, it has the winning formula as most of his concepts in terms of décor, food and popularity.
There are at least a dozen good vegan restaurants in Montreal, but none do it prettier than LOV. Set on rue McGill in Old Montreal the restaurant is impressive when walking past it in the evening.Lit up with tons of lighting and painted in hues of white and light green, it exudes a crisp clean feel of simplicity, with hints of nature here and there.Yet Restaurant LOV is not only for the healthy conscious, it has a happening bar scene with long communal bar tables and seating and a great wine and cocktail list. The menu created by Stephanie Audet formerly of Crudessence is innovative, original and absolutely delicious. There is lots of interesting choices to be had even for the non-vegans.
I have to admit this foodie is somewhat of a carnivore. I like a good portion of meat with all my meals and do not feel satisfied just on a bowl of veggies. But there are times at lunch and breakfast in which I prefer salads or just fruit. Vegetables are less heavy and somewhat cleansing and have much more beneficial health properties than meat these days which are filled with hormones and antibiotics.
I began eating more vegetarian meals after eating at Crudessence and seeing that vegetables do not need to be bland. They can be used like any cut of meat; some creativity is required but today there are many combinations for meat replacements. Lately, I started visiting the Copper Branch Fast food outlets and sampled tempeh for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted and started to think of ways where I can incorporate this, many more items in my menu. Monday evenings have now become Vegetarian night. We take a break from eating meat and we cook stir fry vegetables, casseroles or stuffed veggies. I am starting to experiment with different ideas and eating at LOV and Crudessence has been inspirational.
The evening I visited LOV, I was running late and was rushing to get there on time. I little stressed and nervous I managed to find a parking lot a few doors away but had to pay $ 15.00. for parking, I knew it was going to be an expensive evening. As I rushed down the street and rushed up the stairs I could not help being awed by the lighting, the brightness and the decor. My friends were already there waiting and had scored the table next to the window in the alcove. The perfect spot to people watch.
As I settled in, I looked around and really liked the feel of the place. I started to feel less stressed as I perused the menu. The restaurant was already buzzing with a youthful vibrant crowd seated at the bar tables. My girlfriends had already gotten their wine and it took about 35 minutes for the waitress to come back around to take our order. I ordered 4 oz of Vale del Maule 2015-Naranjo a natural orange wine for $ 15.00. A full glass of 8 oz will put you back $ 24.00, our waitress Justine was nice enough to advise me before I placed my final order. This made up for the slow service we received. The wine was delicious and perfect with my starter of endive and citrus salad.
For starters we ordered the stuffed portabella mushroom, quinoa fritters, endive salad and LOV Poutine.
The endive salad & Citrus salad at $ 14.00 was refreshing and a perfect mix of bitter and sweet. Topped with walnuts and Goji berries, it was a good start.
The Quinoa Fritters – $ 10.00 were just as delicious. We received 4 quinoa fritter balls made with jackfruit, Konjac and Corn topped with a turmeric aioli and pineapple salsa. Different in texture and flavor, the fritters were innovative and original. The fritters came packed with tons of health benefits. I had never heard of Jackfruit, with some research I discovered it is a tropical fruit that resembles Durian. It has lots of health benefits and it is sweet in consistency but must be cooked. Konjac is a flour which does not contain starch or sugar and is used more as a thickening agent, perfect for those with gluten intolerances.
The Stuffed Portabella mushroom-$ 12.00 was stuffed with a walnut and prune Duxelle, it came with a drizzle of apple vinaigrette and topped with organic vegan cheese. The presentation left much to be desired but the texture and flavors were wonderful and tasty.
The last appetizer was the Poutine LOV-$10.00, their signature dish made with sweet potatoes and miso gravy. Topped with kale chips and organic vegan cheese curds. I liked this dish, although my friend found the Miso gravy too salty. Everyone loved the mix of salty and sweet potatoes and the crispy kale gave it some texture. Paired with the LOV Burger it is a perfect combination.
For my main meal, I ordered the Gnocchi di Casa for $ 15.00 that just blew me away. I loved the flavors of the hemp and basil pesto, strong but worthwhile. I am not a pesto fan but I loved this dish, it was an explosion of different flavors and combinations. The gnocchi were made with buckwheat and sweet potatoes combining sweet against the bitterness of arugula. Perfect pockets that were al dente and delicious. They came topped with Almond Parmesan which was a first for me.
Also ordered was the LOV Burger for $ 11.00, the patty was made with black beans and the regular vegetable fixing with organic cheese. My friend liked the burger and said it was comparable to other vegan burgers she had.
Two other dishes ordered were the Coconut Curry -$ 14.00 and the Squash & Feta for $ 16.00.These were equally delicious. The coconut Curry hit all the mark in flavors. A combination of Squash, carrots, kale, basmati rice, coconut milk, curry, cashews and a hint of lime. It contained a perfect balance of flavors with the rich creamy curry, the cashews added that extra crunch and texture.
The Squash and Feta dish was a mix of butternut squash, brussels sprouts and pickled red onions.A combination of seared pears and maple mustard sauce gave it sweetness. The pumpkin seeds added texture and the almond feta its creaminess. Another hit for us.
We were also tempted by dessert. So, we ordered a crème brulée and berry cheesecake for $8.00 and cappuccino for $ 3.75. The crème brulée made with almond milk was decent. I felt it lacked the flavor of vanilla or other aromas to bring it one step above the rest.
The cheesecake, although I loved, did not go well with my friends. They felt it was pasty and flavorless. I thought it was good especially with the berries and ground cherries. Mixed together the berries gave it its flavor. Of course, we must take into consideration the desserts are not make with regular milk and cream and will vary in taste. But nonetheless they were decent.
I Loved LOV, it will be my go to place in the future for vegan food. I recommend it for many reasons, but mostly for the décor, the vibe and the good healthy good. For those skeptics, a warning, the prices are steep if you are a diehard carnivore and are not be satisfied on vegetable alone. At the cost of $ 74.00 for a three-course meal, this is costly even for the proverbial vegan. But if you must do Vegetarian or vegan this is the Go To Place. I truly enjoyed it and would definitely return.
LOV has also opened a second location downtown on 1232 Mountain street.
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