Musings from Carly: Veg Directory Assistant 2013

Let’s make it personal. I’ve been suggesting vegetarian and vegan Summerlicious hotspots, and you’ve no idea who I am. So here’s an account of my own 2013 Summerlicious experience to give you a closer look at Summerlicious and me.

On the opening day of Summerlicious 2013 I headed to Ocho Hotel, one of the restaurants I mentioned as one of the top 5 vegan choices, with a few friends. Much to our delight, not only were we ordering off the prix-fixe menu, but it was also Wine Night! I nuzzled in with a glass of the house red and took in my surroundings.

ocho main

Ocho is cozy and trendy all at once. It was stylish without pretension and fancy without breaking the bank. As a student, it is not often that I can treat myself to three courses and drinks while out for dinner in such a lovely place. Didn’t I feel special.

I was sad to see that the menu at Ocho didn’t mention the vegan status of some of its items. Had I not done the research, I may not have known of their delicious and exciting vegan choices. And I wished it was there for all to see. Since I had done the research, I promptly ordered my choices. My omnivorous contemporaries were also happy with the array of choices and we ultimately ordered one of each item between us.

My appetizer, the asparagus and leek soup, was a generous portion and so creamy that I needed to summon the waitress and double check its vegan-ness. It was topped with an olive-oil toasted crostini and impressed everyone at the table with its flavour and texture. I was so delighted with the soup that I gobbled it down before remembering to take a picture.

The sundried tomato risotto cakes were equally satisfying: crispy and gooey all at once. I was again baffled by their ability to be so creamy and so vegan. I should have remembered that creative and skilled plant-based meals are no longer reserved for fully vegan restaurants. And once again, my friends were equally as impressed by my meal as their own. The olive tapenade added a saltiness and the arugula a freshness, but mostly I was savouring the risotto in all its smooth glory.

ocho dessert

For dessert, I decided on the mango sorbet at the suggestion of our lovely waitress. If I could use three words to describe the sorbet they would be as follows: cool, fresh, and sweet. Oh, and once again, creamy. Are there many other words to describe sorbet? Perhaps not. Nonetheless, it was the prefect light snack to end a delightful meal. My friends quite enjoyed their mini creme brulee and mango cheesecake, respectfully. We had to call up the online menu on our phones to remind ourselves if the cheesecake was in fact “cheese”cake and vegan (me) friendly. No matter how much I pined for a taste, it was unfortunately (fortunately) real cheese.

So my Summerlicious experience was essentially perfect. It was delicious, vegan, fancy, affordable, and fun. My friends were equally as satisfied with their meals and impressed by mine. We chatted, we laughed, we rubbed our bellies and licked our lips, and we were reminded why we love Toronto.

And I was reminded that plant-based fare is never dull, and often creamy!