Eating out: The Beet Organic Café & Market, Toronto

The Beet
The Beet Organic Café & Market is housed in an old TD Bank building, its entrance behind a still-functional Green Machine ABM terminal. I’m not sure if this is an amazing coincidence or a subtle, “only in the Junction” political statement: on Queen West, the big brands are taking over the mom & pop restaurants and stores. In Toronto’s “up and coming” West End, it’s apparently the other way around.

The Beet is not vegetarian, but very vegetarian and vegan friendly. All of its food is organic and healthily prepared. The fact that it’s co-owned by a certified nutritionist and a homeopathic doctor is evident in everything we tried: the food is tasty, healthy and solid. Unlike the light-and-fluffy salads that pass for vegetarian fare elsewhere, things here are weighty and feel like they’re providing actual nutrition.

It’s all very earnest, but excellent and deserving of a vegan’s/vegetarian’s/locavore’s/eco-aware person’s patronage. The “market” is a thoughtful selection of healthy products, from organic toothpaste to healthy granola bars to tea (the selection could be a little better here, I think…) and coffee. The soundtrack was tasty and chilled roots reggae today, perhaps indicating the preferences of the fabulously friendly blonde dreadlocked server.

We ordered the soup of the day (cream of parsnip with apple), the frittata of the day (kale, broccoli, Emmenthal), a tofu and avocado wrap and a freshly juiced juice. Everything was delicious, the soup a particular standout for me. The sandwich/frittata plates are served with a substantial helping of well-dressed salad (a rare feat, finding a well-dressed salad in any restaurant) and solid multigrain bread with sundried tomato spread.

I ordered jasmine green tea which came in a Bodum coffee plunger – a good idea in principle, but the plunger was a little loose, so I had a few moments of, “Oh boy, I hope it holds up!” :) I did get a free top-up of hot water though (without asking!), which was great.

The bathroom is fabulous (I imagine it used to be the bank manager’s office – worth checking out for its sheer size alone, but also very clean and new, and furnished with non-scented hand soap, which is a rarity again).

Overall, highly recommended. You can tell that intelligent human beings are involved in planning and running this restaurant daily. It felt like a bit of an oasis, and I think I’ll return many times. And I sincerely hope it does well. Toronto needs more restaurants like this.

Closed Mondays, Open Tuesday through Sunday. Hours and location on the website.

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