But this Valentine's Day was also special because my husband and I celebrated with a Vegan brunch at one of the Fresh Restaurants in Toronto. We were briefly visiting Toronto over the weekend for my friend's wedding and found ourselves with a few hours to burn before our flight.
Fresh is a Toronto-based casual vegan restaurant that has been around since 1999 and boasts four locations throughout the city. Fresh isn't pretentious. The staff are extremely friendly, welcoming, and quick. The restaurant on Bloor Street was homey and quaint.
Not only is the menu creative, inventive, and delicious, it's easy on your wallet. It's rare to find a vegan restaurant that actually tastes good AND you don't have to spend a fortune. They have truly hit a home run: eating healthy DOESN'T have to break the bank. If only more restaurants and people could catch on to this, we would be making real progress.
Best of all, their menu is expansive and I actually had to take quite a few minutes to decide what I wanted to eat, because truly I wanted to sample everything. We probably did end up ordering more than we should have, but how often can you get to a place like that? I was truly in my happy place. We both also were very appreciative of the fact that Fresh didn't try to gauge us with "special Valentine's Day" prefix menus, that are typically overpriced and not very good. They just offered their regular menus, which include vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
In addition to the dishes shown above in the slide show, I tried a seasonal apple crumble pie square for dessert. It was so good that I didn't even share it with my husband. Fresh doesn't bake their desserts but outsources them to Sweets from the Earth, a family-owned bakery also in Toronto. They are amazing in their own right. Check out their website.
In addition to food, Fresh offers a wide range of teas, coffee, fresh juices, shakes, and smoothies. For drinks my husband ordered the "energizer" green smoothie (kale, romaine, spinach, orange, strawberry, blueberry, and banana) and I ordered the sweet ginger tea (green tea, maple syrup, raw ginger). Both were refreshing and delicious.
I enjoyed my brunch so much that I ended up buying one of Fresh's latest cookbooks, "Super Fresh" which I've had a hard time putting down. I never thought I would consume a cookbook in the same way someone might consume a great novel.
Should you ever find yourself in Toronto and need a great restaurant recommendation, definitely try Fresh. You won't be disappointed. And I would absolutely recommend starting with the vegan poutine as we did, because no trip to Canada is complete without eating poutine! Thankfully my new cookbook has the recipe for vegan poutine so I can make it at home.