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November 6th, 2011

Vegan brunch at the Windsor Arms in Toronto

A few days ago, my friend Doug McNish tweeted that he’d been developing vegan brunch, lunch and dinner menus for the Windsor Arms. I’m a big fan of Doug’s work (he used to do some amazing things at Raw Aura) and had an open Sunday morning so I quickly booked a Sunday brunch date. The lunch and dinner menus are being added to the regular meal service at Prime, the hotel’s restaurant, but Sunday brunch is brand new and all-vegan.

We showed up this morning and were escorted into the restaurant – it’s south-facing, and the morning sun was coming in. We were the lucky first guests for the vegan brunch and it was peaceful in the restaurant, next door to the bustling brunch buffet.

There are six options for brunch, all priced at $15: A chocolate chia bowl; granola with chocolate hemp milk; gluten-free pancakes; tofu benedict; and the two we ended up ordering: “The Works” and the Stuffed French Toast. The waiter brought us house-made foccaccia with olive oil to start, and it’s excellent, but honestly – you’ll just spoil your breakfast.

The Works is the meal for the extra-hungry person at the table. It’s bigger than it looks in the photo. Scrambled tofu with greens and mushrooms (probably the best scrambled tofu I’ve ever had), home fries (Doug makes them with red potatoes, which he says are lower-GI than white), tempeh bacon (grilled smoked tempeh), black bean chili, sprouted grain toast and a tasty sunflower-miso butter. My date was defeated by the meal and took extras home for later.

The Stuffed French Toast, though, was a perfect size (I was still full, but not struggling to finish it). It’s unfortunately not nearly as photogenic as it is delicious. Vegan French toast is tough because of the lack of egg and I find it can be soggy, but this one had excellent texture and was cooked just right. Made of sprouted grain bread, it was stuffed with a banana-strawberry compote and topped with a blueberry-maple sauce, with tempeh bacon and a strawberry-grapefruit salad on the side.

You might say we left satisfied.

I asked Doug about the menu via email the other day, and he told me that it’s all organic and free of refined flours and sugars, which I love – it means you can order the sweeter items on the menu without that Sunday sugar spike. The beauty of brunch at the Windsor Arms is it’s more calm than your average clattery, shabby-on-purpose spot with a lineup out the door (not that I don’t love those too at the right time).

As Doug told me, “I feel that vegan cuisine can and should be an experience that isn’t only about the food, it is the atmosphere and the service.” Vegan meals at the Windsor Arms are a great addition to the growing Toronto vegan eating scene and I’m looking forward to returning for lunch or dinner (unlike brunch, offered seven days a week) to try dishes like the Red Beet Carpaccio with Pumpkin Seed Chimichurri, or the Herbed Portobello and Tempeh Burger with Sweet Potato Fries.

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Travelling the world (and especially Toronto) with writer and editor Kat Tancock. Also drop by my silly cat Tumblr, Cats I have met while travelling.

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