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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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