Monday, April 13, 2015

Aux Vivres

Do you sometimes get cravings for something from a particular diet that you actually don't follow? Like gluten-free pastries just because they taste good even though you don't have celiac disease? I sometimes get cravings for good hearty vegetarian meals, even though I am not a vegetarian anymore. My sister, on the other hand, decided to convert to vegetarianism and so I used it as an excuse to have brunch with her and her boyfriend at Aux Vivres, Montreal's first vegan restaurant and pretty much one of my favorite spots. Besides, the location is quite convenient : right in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, only a few blocks away from our mountain.

The first time I went to Aux Vivres was a few months ago with some coworkers and our boss. Because of our policies against animal cruelty every meal that is shared or ordered as part of a work meeting or event has to be vegan. I obviously fell in love with the place, just like many more Montrealers, because the food is so good. If you try to get in on a Sunday for brunch, make sure you show up at 10am or you'll have to wait in line!

Surprisingly, my sister's boyfriend was already familiar with the place but not my sister herself. So we ordered a bunch of different things so we could try each other's food.

So Nick and I started off by ordering each a Mango Lassi, a smoothie made with mango, coconut milk, agave, and lime.

Made with fresh ingredients, it's very refreshing and somewhat not too thick. Sometimes the thickness might vary because fresh pineapples are not all identical. For instance, my drink was slightly runnier than Nick's and that's the way I like my smoothies.

Rebecca decided to go for a Tonique, an apple, ginger, and lemon juice.

First of all look at that color. You do know that pure unfiltered apple juice is brown, not yellow, right? If you've never had real apple juice before please go have some. You'll never look at apple juice the same way. If you pass by Drummondville go to the market in the St-Joseph neighborhood and grab a few bottles of the brown liquid. It's amazing.

Now on to the actual food! Nick and I decided to go for brunch items while Rebecca chose a lunch item (have I told you guys my sister is the family's little black sheep? She never does anything like the others do).

Nick ordered a Complet : tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, cornbread, sweet potatoes, and salad.

Nick's plate was a mix of sweet and salty. The cornbread was light, slightly crispy, and sweet. The sweet potatoes were soft and well seasoned, not crispy like actual fries but still very pleasant to eat. The tofu scramble contains a mix of spices, somewhat exotic and quite flavorful. And the tempeh is a pleasant surprise for meat lovers.

But wait. What is tempeh? It's a pressed fermented soy product. It usually comes in cake form, sort of like tofu. Now the difference is tofu is made like cheese : you harvest the curd you get from the soy milk and press it. Tempeh is made from actual soybeans that have been fermented together. This thing is surprisingly delicious, is packed with proteins and is a very good alternative to tofu if, at some point, you can't stand the sight of tofu anymore.

Rebecca decided to order a Aux Vivres Burger : hearty garden patty served on a whole-what bun with caramelized onions, mustard, tomato, lettuce, pickle, and chipotle mayo. It comes with a side of roasted potatoes, a coleslaw, and chipotle ketchup. My sister decided to trade her regular potatoes for sweet potatoes.

The bun was light inside and slightly crunchy outside. The patty itself was hearty and delicious. Though it wasn't oozing with juice like a meat patty would (duh) it was soft and moist. Rebecca devoured her burger like a hungry cavewoman.

For my part I decided to go for the Polenta : fried polenta, black bean refritos, tofu scramble, salsa, guacamole, and salad.

Did I say guacamole? Yes my friend, freaking guac! The cool thing with polenta is it's pretty versatile and can be used instead of the usual bread roll or biscuit. Besides, I find it's a much more interesting and delicious alternative. Crispy outside and soft inside, I happily smothered it in the black beans and guacamole. Oh and the salsa? Delicious, simple, fresh. No need to overthink this.

All brunch items come with a cup of organic fair-trade coffee or a chai latte. Obviously the "milk" is soy milk. By the way, I know the lens I use tends to make things look small, but the portions are actually huge. If you think I'm exagerating, well, one table can only fit two plates. Good luck if you ordered drinks. At some point we sort of stopped eating because it was a lot of food. The only reason why I finished my plate was because I didn't want to take out and walk around with the remaining of my meal.

So not only is the food good, but the ambiance is very casual, perfect to bring friends and family. The staff is lovely, the service is on point, and it's quite affordable. The cool thing is they also have a store section, so you can buy their delicious sauces, tempeh, and much more.

So even if you're not a vegetarian, give it a try. It's totally worth it.

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