Rawlicious restaurant more delicious than expected

My husband and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary and decided to spend the weekend relaxing, enjoying eachother’s company and dining out.

For those of you who follow me on facebook and twitter, you’ll know that I shared a recent Groupon deal for a half-off coupon to the restaurant/cafe Rawlicious. I had heard of this place from a few different friends and had read about it quite a while back, but had never gotten around to checking it out. So we jumped on this very sweet deal and made the trek out for some raw vegan cuisine.

We drove out to Rawlicious (Keele and Dundas) on a Friday afternoon, and apart from normal Toronto traffic, had no problem finding the restaurant or parking (although parking was prohibited 5-6p.m., and as of 4p.m. on some surrounding streets for rush hour on weekdays.) The cafe was cozy, but airy and very welcoming. The walls were filled with some very beautiful artwork, and seating ranged from regular tables and chairs to comfy armchairs and Japanese style seating.

Everything at Rawlicious is vegan and gluten-free. Nothing is cooked over 118F in order to preserve the nutritional value of the food (with the exception of such ingredients as maple syrup and balsamic vinegar), and the cafe strives to use 100% organic ingredients. The one allergy alert to highlight – many dishes do contain nuts or nut butters.

The menu offered a selection of mouth watering smoothies (ChocoMinty – Nutmilk, Banana, Raw Chocolate Powder, Agave & Peppermint… yum!)
and healthy juice blends. Although they looked tempting, we were both pretty hungry at that point, so went straight to the appetizers and entrees. Spring rolls and Pizza on a sprouted buckwheat crust were easy choices, but I debated for a while between the Pad Thai (raw kelp noodles, shredded romaine, carrots, peppers, zucchini noodles mixed in a tangy cashew sesame Thai sauce topped with crumbled cashews & green onions) and the Zucchini pasta (spiralized swirls of zucchini with a basil pesto). In the end, I went for the zucchini pasta.

One of the nice (and comforting) things about this place is that the kitchen is completely open. Behind a modest counter, the two women working that afternoon both prepared and served our food, in full sight of their guests. (Maybe it’s those shows I used to watch when I was a kid – of disgruntled restaurant workers doing really bad things to people’s food when they were hidden behind the safety of a thick wall and closed kitchen – but this open kitchen definately put my mind at ease!)

The first item that came out were the spring rolls in rice paper (not raw) – a very pleasant and light appetizer that did exactly that – appetized us! Next came the pizza, which I must say was the highlight of the meal.

The pizza was made of a warm sprouted buckwheat crust that was tender, but had a lovely texture and crunch to it and stayed together without crumbling like many other gluten-free crusts. The toppings of the day included red onions, parsley, watercress, basil, garlic, and a delicious nut based sauce (I think it was a combination of seasame and cashew, but forgot to ask). From the first bite, this pizza bursted with flavour. Until this day, I hadn’t yet found a pizza that pleased my tastebuds as much as my own. This alone made the entire trip worth it!

Next came the zucchini pasta, which was basically long spaghetti-like strips of fresh zucchini, tossed in a lovely basil pesto. It was a light and refereshing plate – but a little too much zucchini for one person to eat. Even between the two of us, this plate was quite a bit, but wondeful all the same. We also opted to add “neat balls” which were very flavourful, and a nice contrast to the squash. (I couldn’t quite figure out what these were made of. It looked like a combination of dates and nuts, but was completely savoury – so this remains a pleasant mystery for me.)

By the time we finished our spring rolls, pizza and pasta, my husband and I were feeling quite satisfied… but not quite full enough to forgo a desert we knew would not disappoint! We were avoiding cocoa that day, so had to bypass the brownies. Instead we ordered a pecan pie and lemon “cheese”cake. Both deserts were nut buter based, so despite their small size, were quite filling.

The pecan pie was rich, dense and smooth, served in a small porcelain dish. The lemon cheesecake was refreshing and surprisingly creamy from its pecan-butter base. And unlike many gluten-free deserts I’ve tried, neither of these deserts were overly sweet.

Overall, my bill came to a bargain deal of $21 ($41 minus my $20 Groupon coupon). Even without this coupon, I felt like I got excellent value from this cafe. The service was wonderful and I could tell my food was prepared with heart. And of course, as one of my friends once said “it tastes just the same as regular food… only without that full and bloated feelign afterwards!”

My sincerest thanks to the two lovely ladies that served us and to the owner who put on this great promotion with Groupon.

If only there was a Rawlicious in the east end of town, I would definately become a regular.

 Rawlicious Cafe
3092 Dundas Street West
tel. 416 519 7150
Open Monday – Sunday 12 – 10 p.m.

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