Amid hanging lanterns and colourful murals, the dining rooms at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant's two locations fill with the aromas of spicy berbere sauce, sizzling beef tips, and savoury vegetable stews. Diners scoop up each bite with pieces of injera, a spongy flatbread that combines the tangy taste of sourdough with the aerodynamism of pizza delivered by frisbee. Cast-iron pots conceal slow-simmered stews of chicken and lamb, and slices of Western bread conceal pieces of grilled chicken or kifto, a very rare minced beef. Servers celebrate the Horn of Africa's claim as the birthplace of coffee by roasting beans at the table, releasing the earthy aromas of a traditional coffee ceremony.
Combining fresh, local ingredients with traditional Sicilian recipes, Tutto Pronto Ristorante champions Italy's contributions to the culinary stage with midday and evening concoctions. Dedicate a triumphal arch to cutlery's victory over starters such as fresh wild-mushroom-and-goat-cheese bruschetta ($10) and a roasted-beet salad featuring blue cheese and pumpkin seeds ($13). Fettuccine al bosco ensnares wild mushrooms, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes in its olive-oil-kissed noodles, threatening to hold them for a king's ransom ($15). Tutto Pronto also dusts plates with such classics as chicken or veal parmigiana ($19), as well as pizzas, including the tutto funghi, topped with brie, a trio of roasted mushrooms, and basil oil ($16).
Loïc Gourmet follows a philosophy of providing busy people with fresh, French-inspired takeout fare while leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible. The daily changing menu pillages local seasonal produce to concoct appetizers such as the charcuterie plate, an array of naturally raised, finishing-school-educated Niagara meats that include prosciutto, capicollo, and salamis dressed with crostini ($7.75). Sandwich selections may include the croque madame, a traditional French grilled sandwich bedecked with ham, béchamel sauce, emmental cheese, and a fried egg ($8.75). Entrees span delicacies from sweet-pea risotto festooned with baby spinach ($13.50) to poached sockeye salmon with julienne vegetables ($12.50). Loïc also dispenses a limited rotation of frozen options, such as beet-and-cabbage borscht ($9 for 24 oz.) and beef brisket in a ginger-and-apricot jus ($11), which shoppers can heat up at home or onboard their steam-powered airships.
By blending all-natural ingredients, Todaysmenu produces prepared family- or single-serving meals that are free of MSG and preservatives. Peruse the seasonal menu for fresh entrees such as chicken pot pie ($22.95) or beef lasagna, which furnishes four to five family members with a hearty dose of lean ground beef and layers of mozzarella cheese forged from 1 per cent milk ($23.95). Single-size meals can nourish one to two individuals and include israeli-couscous-sided salmon en papillote ($9.95) and wheat-free thai-coconut chicken ($8.95). Diners may also indulge in guiltless sides such as vegetable pesto orzo ($6.95) and scented basmati rice ($4.95). Children and deceptive man-children can chomp on lean, meaty sloppy joes ($7.95) before orally inspecting the apple crumble's hand-cut apples sprinkled with brown sugar ($13.95). Todaysmenu also brandishes grills with marinated lean meats ($7.95+) that are ready to barbecue, toss in the oven, or use to decorate bare meat hooks.
Claudia Gaviria-Abt's education in cooking goes hand in hand with the seasons. Growing up between Colombia and Ecuador, she ate fruits, vegetables, and nuts harvested fresh from the countries' mountainsides and shorelines. Her appreciation for each season's bounty deepened as she learned to cook under her grandmother, a woman who lived the Hippocratic ideal of using food as medicine. Claudia remembers her grandmother's refrigerator and pantry as pharmacies, stocked with homemade medicines such as cold remedies made from potato skins.
Today, Claudia continues harnessing the healing power of raw-vegan foods through Cruda Cafe, preparing a menu that spans smoothies, wraps, and entrees such as a flax-crust pizza and a burger made of wild mushrooms and nuts. Dishes even come packaged in biodegradable containers from GreenShift. She also teaches people how to make wheat- and gluten-free raw-vegan dishes—defined as food heated to a maximum of 44 degrees Celsius to keep natural enzymes intact—in her Raw Un-Cooking classes, which emphasize local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. This gusto for the raw-vegan lifestyle has gotten Claudia plenty of local press, catching the attention of media such as blogTO and Raw Candy.
To meet the needs of local herbivores, Claudia's services extend to food delivery, raw catering for events such as birthdays and shuttle takeoffs, and coaching for people interested in opening a raw-vegan business. She also posts book recommendations and tips for juice cleanses.
At Vert Catering, head chef Pedro Dos Santos leans on years of professional experience and a Mediterranean culinary mindset to create wholesome meals out of local and organic food sources. The take-out menu is offered Wednesday–Friday and changes daily, although you might find pork goulash, fried polenta cakes, beef pot pie, or maple barley salad (check Vert's Facebook page for updates).
Catering options are more predictable. Assorted danishes and scones, trays of organic fruit, and croissandwiches show up at corporate breakfasts. Luncheons come to life with vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, hot meals of shepherd's pie or roast chicken, and hors d'oeuvres of corn cakes and empanadas. Also a caterer to the environment, Vert donates untouched food to local hostels, composts organic waste, and powers its building with carbon-neutral cold fusion.