Toronto is chockablock with inventive cafés and restaurants, the majority of which offer up much delicious magic. I’ve previously shown you Fresh Restaurant, Kale Eatery, and Belmonte Raw, and today I’m taking you to Live Organic Food Bar and Hawker Bar.
For the record, neither of the aforementioned “bars” are of bars of the let’s-get-tipsy-mctipsypants-then-find-some-prettypeoplefolk-to-dance-with variety. They’re restaurants.
You might think I’m showing you the above photo because I want you to know how to spot Live Organic Food Bar from afar if you ever find yourself on Dupont St. That is only half true. I am also showing you because the man in the window above the restaurant makes me think (delightedly) of Anne Shirley and Diana Barry sending each other messages via flickering lights from their bedroom windows at night.
But I digress.
I visited Live with Lisa, because I always try to pick dining partners according to alliteration. Live is an organic raw food bar that also offers cooked options, and I swear I would like to eat ‘most everything on its (extensive) menu. Alas, Lisa and I were both feeling a bit under-the-weather on the night we went, so we kept our order simple.
Above is a plate of Live’s famous Chickpea Fries, described on the menu as “cornmeal and chickpea flour fries with bbq and spicy mayo dipping sauces”. These were fantastic, crispy on the outside yet both firm and creamy on the inside, perfectly spiced, and jazzed up by the two sauces.
The Big Bowl Salad, comprised of “field greens, kale, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed seeds, avocado, micro greens, sunflower sesame hummus, and [I chose tahini] dressing”, was incredible. I’d never had raw hummus before, which seems silly in retrospect. Raw sunflower hummus is pretty much simply creamy tangy nut butter, and we all know I tend to go through at least two jars of nut butter a week straight with a spoon.
Last weekend Lisa, her brother, her brother’s fiancée, and I went to see Avenue Q at the Lower Ossington Theatre (the musical was just as marvellous here in Toronto as when I saw it in New York in 2008). For lunch beforehand we checked out Hawker Bar, a gorgeous little spot where the menus are printed on the back of cardboard squares from beer boxes, the waiters are super-friendly, and the flavours, oh the flavours! Each dish we tried sang with intensity, nuance, sweet-salty-spicy-hot complexity, and happiness.
Lisa enjoyed her vegan Laksa Lemak (a rare find, I believe, considering that most laksa bases involve shrimp paste), the Singapore Chicken Wings with sweet chili sauce and Chili Salt Tofu with house BBQ dipping sauce were gobbled up, the Singapore Noodles across from me looked appropriately dark and glossy, and my Silken Tofu arrived as a behemoth of baked creamy tofu topped with flavourful chili jam, a mountain of fried crispy taro root, fried mushrooms, slices of chili and ginger, and a black vinegar dressing that pulled everything together. It was wonderful.
Aaaaaaand I’ve just discovered that Hawker Bay’s chef, Alec Martin, is Australian.