Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vivre Aux Vivres!


Aux Vivres is a popular vegan restaurant/cafe on the Plateau that seems to also specialize in smoothies/juices. Even though the store is small and the location a little random, the restaurant is usually quite full, and with people of all shapes, sizes or food-religion. Or regular religion, at that. Despite having no trace trace of dairy, eggs or meat in their foods, it is not uncommon to find even big, burly guys frequenting this dainty establishment. Why? Because Aux Vivres manages to whip up foods that make you forget that the meat/dairy/egg is even missing.

I used to be a non-believer. I used to wonder how foods without the above-mentioned three components could even taste like anything other than cardboard seasoned with grass. When my friend told me she was going to initiate me to my first vegan-dining experience, I must have postponed my date with her 20 times before finally running out of excuses. Now I know to know better. And In the words of a wise unicorn: "Shuuuuuuun the non-believers!"

Aux Vivres storefront

Accessibility - Grade: B
It's a 10-15 minute walk from Mont-Royal metro, but it's not a straightforward walk.

Service - Grade: B-
The service was a bit all over the place. The girl who brought us to our table seemed new and a little lost. After I told her how many people we would be, she told me just a moment and walked off. I assumed she was going to prepare a table, but then I saw her bringing water to another table. She was nice, though. She changed our water jug before we were even halfway done.

Our main waiter didn't even come by to say hi, and instead popped up randomly 15 minutes after we had settled into our seats to curtly jot down orders and disappear. We waited another good 15 minutes before our smoothies managed to make it to our table. The bus boy who brought it to us was really nice though.

Food - Grade: B+
Bonus Marks: Best vegan I've had in Montreal. Initiated me to vegan food.

I would have given them an A-, but I think their menu shrank. A lot of the 'comfort' foods and rice bowls disapeared, and they have more sandwiches and brunch items. Even their special of the day disappeared.

 We started off with two smoothies. I ordered the mango lassi, and my cousin ordered... I don't remember the name. Or the ingredients, for that matter. The mango lassi was sweet, tangy and refreshing. It was thick and well-blended, and was neither too sour or cloyingly sweet. The smoothie my cousin had some more earthy undertones to it, and tasted strongly of cinnamon and spices.

Dragon Bowl, front
Dragon bowl, back

Dragon Bowl, close-up

 I don't know why I have so many pictures of the Dragon Bowl. Anyway, my cousin ordered this. The bowl consists of a bed of brown rice topped with a mix of cabbage, sprouts, carrots, beets, daikon and grilled tofu. It comes with a bowl of sauce (either peanut or sesame, I'm not entirely sure). The bowl was quite big, and there was plenty enough sauce to give the entire bowl flavour. The vegetables gave the bowl a refreshing raw taste and the bold flavours of daikon, carrot and sprouts gave each bite of rice a different taste. The tofu was tender and chewy, much like strips of chicken breast would be.

BLT in Chipati
The BLT is my favourite order. It was pretty much what sealed the vegan deal for me. It's a huuuuge wrap lined with lettuce, tomatoes and - get this - seasoned and baked coconut flakes for bacon. Now, I get that there's this huge bacon cult out there, and they would probably find this blasphemous and yadda yadda yadda. Pffft. I'll have my bacon and eat it too. This coconut stuff is genius, man.

My vegetarian cousin swears that the coconut bits taste exactly like bacon bits. While I don't think that's necessarily true (forgive her, all you bacon worshippers; she hasn't had the real thing in a long time), I do find that the seasoned coconut lends its own unique flavour and texture to the sandwich. It's crispy and light, with just a hint of coconut so you know what you're eating, but seasoned enough to let you know what it's imitating. It's not as greasy as bacon, so you don't feel heavy after eating the ginormous sandwich, but you still feel plenty full and refreshed.

Note that I haven't written anything for the chilli fries in the first picture. That's because it's no longer on the menu. Just like so many other things. Can you tell that I'm a little bitter?

Price - $$
The price for a plate here is around $10 before tax kicks in, but with a smoothie, it'll cost you closer to $15. The two smoothies and the two dishes came up to $40 with the tax and tip. So yeah, it's certainly affordable for students, especially the vegetarian students who are looking for a bit more variety in their meals.

Final Grade: B+
Despite the change in menu, I still have a soft spot for Aux Vivres. The food is good enough for me to get random cravings for it, and the prices are decent. Their desserts also look very tasty. I have no doubt that I will be back. After all, a vegan gyro? Who doesn't want to check that out?

Aux Vivres
Aux Vivres on Urbanspoon
4631 boul. St-Laurent, Montreal
(514) 842-3479

1 comment:

  1. Hi Louisa,
    Your first posts just appeared on Urbanspoon! Check it out:
    I encourage you to claim your blog, which allows you to add a picture and change some settings. The blog photo shows up next to your posts wherever they appear on Urbanspoon. Here's how to claim:
    - Make sure you're logged into Urbanspoon
    - Go to your blog page on our site: http://www.urbanspoon.com/br/67/5907/Montreal/Food-at-First-Sight-and-Taste.html

    - Click "Claim your blog" in the left sidebar
    After you submit it, we may contact you to verify your claim. Check your spam email folder if your claim hasn't gone through in a day or two. You'll also find some interesting badges and widgets on your Urbanspoon blog page - look in the right sidebar.
    Let me know if you have any questions.