I tend to find that many of the vegan restaurants I have attended in the past have had the three ‘Ps’ of dread — pretentious crowds, pitiful proportions, and pricey, bland food. So you must understand my initial disappointment when my dining partner decided to surprise me with a raw vegan restaurant called Crudessence.
I had never heard of this restaurant, a little place that I initially thought was a store selling raw products. Down the small narrow restaurant were some simple wooden tables and chairs. There was a funky flare to the decor such as a matrix-style portrait of a computer chip and another one of multicoloured broken glass.
So what is Crudessence? According to the website, it is a restaurant that serves “food choices based on respect for life and global well-being,” and appeals to “anyone seeking to awaken their bodies and minds.”
As for the menu: don’t worry, this is not your ordinary rabbit food restaurant. Thankfully, Crudessence offers a witty, healthy and sophisticated twist on meals such as nachos, pizza, hamburgers and tacos. The difference is that you won’t leave the restaurant feeling bloated and reminding yourself that you need to hit the gym as soon as possible.
I ordered the “Exceptional Wrap,” chipotle quinoa wrapped in nori and rice sheets with avocado, lettuce, sprouts, red peppers, carrots and onions. The wrap popped vibrantly with colours—yellow, green, red and white while the rice sheets gave a nice touch of Asian infusion. The mix of velvety avocado with the bitter taste of sprouts and sweet red peppers made this wrap truly live up to its name. The sauce was the best part. A zesty ranch taste with a kick of chipotle, complimenting the wrap perfectly. There’s the option of ordering the wrap alone for a jaw-dropping $11, or if you are feeling rebellious, you can order it with the daily salad on the side for $14.75.
The person I went with looked enthusiastically through the menu and, grinning, ordered the “Om burger” (obviously amused with the clever name). This burger is a combination of mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, flax seeds and mixed vegetables, served on chapati bread and garnished with fresh tomatoes, red onions, lettuce, homemade mustard, ketchup and their famous caper aioli. It tasted tangy from the homemade mustard, rich and smoky from the mushrooms and salty from the sun-dried tomatoes. The burger came to about $12.50.
The bathroom is a tiny stall with swinging wooden western style doors. Even though it sounds fun, there is nothing more uncomfortable than having the other diners stare at you through the wide cracks of the doors while you wash your hands.
All-in-all, I found the idea to be as much of a culinary adventure as I found it hilarious to mock. As I checked out the website I even saw that they offer delivery… by bicycle to make sure it is environmentally friendly. All sarcasm aside, though the prices were sky high, I tip my hat to the wonderfully tasty vegan treats.
Crudessence is located on 2157 Mackay St. and 105 Rachel St. W.