On our spontaneous quest for something a bit out of the ordinary, we were recommended a popular vegan outpost in the Plateau area.
Even with a large, green sign outside, we managed to miss the restaurant on our first pass. There was so much vibrant signage in the area, that it was easy to get lost. The exterior wasn’t impressive - clashing colours of green and red with lots of writing on the awning. A simple logo’s green sans-serif appeared similar to a beer brand with a little red hummingbird atop.
A thick, plastic, transparent curtain welcomed us. The furnishing was simple with laminated, rounded tables everywhere and booths of varying sizes.
The place was tightly packed around lunch hour. We mostly heard English language around us and noticed a younger clientele. Plain white walls with graphic, illustrated art and birch wood trim, bright red seats, simple tile flooring, and an open kitchen with constant sizzling made us feel like we are in a traditional dinner.
But this was no old-fashioned grease-hole. From the first glance at the menu, you learn that Aux Vivres is the first Montreal vegan restaurant that has been in operation since 1997. They also proudly boast about their choice of a superfood - Noble Bean Tempeh made with Montreal-grown organic, sprouted soybeans. There’re plenty of gluten-free and nut-free options to choose from.
We asked for the Dragon Bowl: shredded beet, carrot, red cabbage, lettuce sprouts, daikon root, and toasted sesame seeds, mixed with a side of dragon-sauce grilled tofu. All that goodness was served on organic brown rice. The second item was Tempeh Burger with their famous Noble Bean Tempeh on a whole wheat bun with caramélized onions, tomato, lettuce, and pickle chipotle mayo. A side of potato wedges, coleslaw, and chipotle ketchup sounded like a great idea as well!
We took a chance with two smoothies. Le Freestyle was a curious mix of celery, pineapple, orange juice, and banana greens supplement, while Le Creamsicle had coconut milk, orange juice, carrots, dates, and vanilla.
The number of ingredients in each dish was a bit dizzying, but we hoped that was not done to mask a lack of character.
The tempeh patty was surprisingly juicy with a bean texture and slightly grilled smell. We enjoyed the burger with classic toppings, and the coleslaw side turned out to be quite a treat - finely chopped with spiciness coming through from the horse reddish.
The Dragon Bowl sauce was a unique peach colour, with a sesame sauce and slightly fermented, cheesy flavour, which added substance to the dish of shredded veggies, tofu, and brown rice. Although neatly presented with all the shredded colourful veggies, it was quite difficult to mix. As for the bright orange chopsticks on the side, we found hard to eat the loose rice and greens, as the thin sauce was the only gluing substance.
Although, the Le Creamsicle ingredient combination sounded odd, it turned out to be a beautiful smoothie, tasting a lot like a cream popsicle. All you candy lovers out there - this is your healthy version.
Furthermore, Camille, our friendly waitress was there for us throughout the visit.
We definitely recommend this spot for both vegan and health-conscious, adventurous folks.
It was ideal to replenish our energy for after the climb and descend of Mount Royal. Give it a shot!