Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vegan in Toronto: Sadie's Diner


When I lived in Peterborough my roommates and I had a standing joke that we rolled out every time a vacancy in some commercial building appeared.

"I wonder what's going in there?" one of us would ask.

"Vegan diner," another one would answer, sounding absolutely confident. Then we'd all crack up.

It was funny because it wasn't true.

Peterborough had many nice places to eat, places with dishes that were vegan or veganize-able. But what we daydreamed about was a place we could go where we could order anything off the menu we wanted without having to settle or customize. We didn't need it to be fancy, on the contrary, the vegan diner of our dreams was pretty much just a greasy spoon with a plant-based menu. However, in a small town in the mid nineties we might as well have been wishing for visiting aliens to write our essays on Paradise Lost for us. There was no way it was ever going to happen.

Sadie's Diner

So, when I saw the menu for Sadie's Diner on line, I knew I'd pretty much freak out if I didn't get to go there when my mom and I were in Toronto this past weekend. The menu contains all the classic breakfasty stuff, with everything vegetarian and most of it vegan or able to be made vegan. The food isn't complicated or expensive. In short, it's the vegan diner of my 23 year old self's dreams.

My mom is not vegan, but she is a vegetarian, so she was quite happy to be dragged all over the city on what I joked was "Jennifer's Vegetarian Tour of Toronto". Sadie's was our planned destination for Saturday morning breakfast. It didn't open until nine, so we strolled slowly from our hotel through Toronto's very quiet morning streets to get there. When we arrived they still weren't quite ready to open, so we sat outside on a bench and read the Globe and Mail until they were ready to feed us.

As always, the first item of business was Earl Grey tea with soy milk (me) and coffee (mom). And the next order of business? Smoothies.

mango banana smoothie

Mine was mango/banana and my mom's was, uh, banana and something else. Maybe she'll let us know in the comments since I can't seem to remember. It's worth noting as well that my tea was perfect and Mom said that her coffee was excellent. I think I saw a sign saying it was Fair Trade, too. The smoothies were also great, and I am picky about such things. I can't stand overly sweetened drinks. These were perfect.

We were both sad that they weren't serving waffles that morning (waffle iron glitch, perhaps?) but we were still happy with the abundance of other choices. I was waffling (heh) between the sweet-ish stuff and the savory stuff. Mom decided on pancakes with blueberries and veggie sausages. That helped me decide on something savory because I didn't want us both to have the same thing. I went for the vegan Huevos Rancheros. And I was not sorry.

huevos rancheros (vegan)

Corn tortillas, refried beans, salsa, soy cheese, scrambled tofu, and guacamole. It looked like a mess, but it tasted fantastic. The perfect breakfast to have before a day of walking around the city. I didn't end up feeling hungry again until well into the afternoon.

Another point worth mentioning is that the service at Sadie's was excellent. Our server was totally adorable (I'm a sucker for heavily tattooed vegetarians who smile a lot) and she was cheerful and attentive the whole time we were there. Our food came quickly and when we finished we didn't feel like they were in a rush for us to leave. The whole experience put me in an excellent mood. It helped that the music they were playing was a mix of fifties songs and pop punk, with a few pop punk covers of fifties songs thrown in for good measure.

blueberry pancakes and sausages (vegan)

I did try some of Mom's pancakes and sausages. Both were great. The pancakes had a good texture and flavour and the sausages were tasty as well, much better than any pre-made sausages I've ever bought from a store. I'd be curious to know if they make them themselves or if they come from some other mysterious vegan sausage supplier.

All in all, a giant thumbs up for Sadie's. If we'd had time I would have gone back for breakfast on Sunday, too. Now maybe they'd like to open up a location in Ottawa. A girl can dream.


This Time Last Year: DIY Larabars


Mama said...

This is fantastic for so many reasons! My name is Sadie,I'm a vegetarian, and I love Canada....I'm pretty sure it's a sign that I need to go to Toronto! I wonder if my husbands work will be understanding....since this is clearly bigger than just myself...or his job.

Ryan Patey said...

I love Sadie's! I can't leave Toronto without eating there at least once. The Huevos Rancheros are one of the better vegan breakfast options I have ever had.
Hmmm, I wonder how quickly I could catch a plane for breakfast...

XUP said...

Sadie's is my breakfast place when I'm in Toronto, too! I'm disappointed that you didn't try the veggie bacon though. It's so freakishly real, that the first time I had it, I actually had to double check that it really was vegan. The other super cool thing there is the apple juice which is fresh squeezed ... for each individual order. The other good vegetarian breakfast place in Toronto is Fran's -- 2 locations downtown. It's a regular diner, but with a big veg breakfast menu.

Anonymous said...

My smoothie was peach - in season, locally grown and delicious!


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you went there after reading your Tweet about early veggie breakfasts. Make your next trip to Sadie's even better by visiting Body Blitz first (all woman's water spa) which is kitty corner to the restaurant. Sadie's makes the best fries, vegan sheppard's pie and club sandwich. They also have cupcakes, but I haven't tried them yet. Love your blog!!


Ricki said...

Can't believe I haven't heard of this place yet! Thanks so much for this great review. I know where I'm going next time I'm in the city!

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Mama: You're right! You can't argue with fate!

Ryan: Yes, it's a good thing I don't live in Toronto, or I'd be eating there every day.

XUP: I didn't know that about Fran's! Next time.

Mom: Thank you for fact checking!

Samantha: I saw the cupcakes on display, but even I couldn't justify breakfast-dessert. I'd love to try some of their lunch items next time I'm in the city.

Ricki: I'm jealous of your proximity! I'd love to hear what you think after you give it a try.

Pauline said...

"Now maybe they'd like to open up a location in Ottawa. A girl can dream."

God! I know! More vegetarian and vegan restaurants would be great, because frankly I'm getting sick of being limited to veggie burgers and pizza when we go out! (Though I do eat fish once in awhile) Plus, it would also be nice if there were some veggie restaurants in the east end too, as they all seem to be clustered downtown.

Celeste Faye said...

Hey, thanks for's so good to know where the good vegan restaurants are in this city. Will totally be checking it out. Good PR!

tweal said...

Sounds great, I will have to try that place next time I am in TO. Have you tried 'Cafe My House' here in Ottawa? I've been once for brunch and it was pretty good.

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Pauline: It's true, most of the veggie places are downtown. I drive around a lot for work and basically give up hope of eating anything other that what I bring with me as soon as I leave downtown.

Celeste: Glad to be of service!

tweal: I just noticed that place the other day! I was so surprised to see it I almost drove off the road! Next time I'm working in that area I'm going to give it a try.

Pearl said...

Fantastic. I'm back there vicariously. that not needing to settle is a wonderful feeling.

have you eaten at La Belle Verte in Gatineau?

twelveohtwo said...

get this: their veg sausages are yves. they deep fry them.

i know, right!

Anonymous said...

Really good but the staff there have soooo much attitude.

Anonymous said...

Now I feel spoiled! In Salt Lake City, UT of all places we have a great vegan diner, a fancier vegetarian restaurant, and a veg market as well as a vegan hotdog stand come summertime and a couple pizza places with veg options. You should open up an Ottowa vegan diner! You have the cooking skills and there's gotta be a market for it! We have awesome veg options in UTAH for heaven's sake!

Anonymous said...

PS. In repping the SLC veg scene I totally forgot to mention that we also have a (in my opinion not great) vegan Asian place and a (in my opinion awesome) Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese place that will make any dish on the menu vegan. Even meat eaters prefer to get the veggie versions because they are so freaking delicious.

Nina Halstead said...

Craziness! I just came across your blog last week, and was pleasantly surprised to find out your blog is Canadian (that sounds odd, but you know what I mean). This just gets even better though, as I'm from Peterborough, and just recently took a trip to Toronto and found Sadie's Ice Creem parlour, and needless to say, flipped my lid. While there may be a few places around Peterborough that serve a good vegan dish, there's nothing like the feeling of going into a place (especially and ice cream parlour) and being able to order anything you want! I think I thanked the woman working there about fifteen times, and she must have thought I was crazy. But anyhow, it's neat to know that you're from (or used to live in) Ptbo, it certainly lends a different perspective on things when reading your blog!