I have been going to Fresh since my undergrad years at UofT. Their main menu is vegan with the option of making some dishes vegetarian with the addition of dairy. Back then, my go to meal of choice was the soup and corn-bread combo. It was a comforting healthy meal on a student budget. There was also a period that I was eating a GF diet and Fresh was very accommodating and organized. They brought a binder to the table for me to make sure that there was nothing in the ingredient list, of the foods I was interested in ordering, that I couldn’t eat. Now they have gone a step further and have a gluten-free menu available on their website. You won’t find any hidden animal by-products in any of their dishes. They don’t cook with butter, dairy, eggs or honey and if dairy is offered as a side option anywhere on the menu it is clearly labeled.
At my latest visit, I tried a new menu item the Buffalo Cauliflower: Crispy cauliflower with spicy buffalo sauce, creamy ranch dip, hemp seeds & celery sticks. I didn’t think any of the appetizers would compete with my goto Quinoa Onion Rings but these crispy cauliflower bites were incredible!! This is a situation where the picture doesn’t do the dish justice. Elowyn needed my help colouring and she didn’t appreciate me focussing on taking pictures for too long. So let me give you some more details. Firstly let’s talk cauliflower, it was just the right amount of crispness with a soft interior. Not a single mushy piece! The breading was reminiscent of a buffalo wing without the oiliness. The sauce had a great buffalo flavour with a powerful kick. The hemp seeds were a nice touch; they added a little crunch and a mild nutty flavour to compliment the heat of the sauce. The cauliflower bites also came with a ranch dip that was tasty, light and fresh. All in all-a new favourite!
For my main, I had the Squash Tacos: crunchy panko coated squash with shredded power greens, creamy jalapeno/lime sauce, tomato, onion & cilantro.
I’ve had the squash tacos many times before, but not since they changed the dish up a bit. It used to be served on three mini white tortillas but now they use two medium whole wheat tortillas. With the change in tortillas the tacos hold a lot more of the toppings which is nice but I prefer the old version which in my opinion had a better ratio of squash to tortillas. Since the squash itself is breaded, in combination with the larger tortillas, it’s now a little too starchy.
I think next time I’ll have the BBQ Burger: bbq sauce, quinoa onion rings, garlic mayo, napa cabbage, hot banana chilies, tomato & lettuce.
The burgers at Fresh are some of the best veggie burgers in the city. The patty is a high-protein almond and grain burger that incorporates a variety of flavourful veggies. It can also be served bunless on a bed of lettuce. Unfortunately the kale slaw that used to be served as a side with the burgers no longer comes with the dish. You’ll have to pay extra if you want a side salad, soup or fries.
Pro Tip: The Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Peanut Sauce are amazing!
I tried the iced matcha latte with coconut milk but forgot to ask for it to be sweetened. It can also be customized with almond milk, 2%, or cream. The coconut milk was very rich and I enjoyed my iced matcha latte until I reached the final quarter. Even though I had mixed it, the matcha settled at the bottom and made the last portion of the drink strong and slightly bitter. That’s where the stevia would have helped, had I remembered to ask for it!
What’s great about Fresh is that whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or simply interested in a healthy meal there are delicious options for everyone. My entire family enjoyed their dinner. The restaurant is also child-friendly. They had high-chairs, crayons, and the staff was energetic and kind. They may have picked up the crayons Elowyn tossed too many times to mention. For dessert they recommended the brownie, which was gluten-free and not overly sweet. No surprise, Elowyn was a big fan.
Aside from apps, burgers, wraps and tacos the bulk of the Fresh menu is a selection of salads and protein-topped salad bowls. The “regular” salad bowls are huge and are served on your choice of brown basmati rice or soba noodles; they do also offer a “baby” size for their bowls. My favourite is the Beach Bowl: grilled red pepper, zucchini & sweet potato with avocado, sun-dried tomato, sunflower sprouts, olive oil, tamari, lemon & mixed herbs choice of grilled tofu steaks, goat cheese or fresh cashew cheese. You’ll also find a large assortment of shakes, cold-pressed juices, coffees, botanical lattes, and milkshakes.
The Tangled Thai Salad: spiralized carrot & yellow beets, red pepper, red cabbage, jicama, napa cabbage, dry roasted peanuts, cilantro, cucumber & Fresh Salad Topper with peanut lime dressing
Quinoa Onion Rings: hand-crafted, coated with breadcrumbs & puffed quinoa
Soup Salad and Cornbread Combo: a cup or bowl of one of our daily soups with side superfood salad, 2 slices of grilled cornbread & fresh cashew cheese choice of dressing
Blueberry Almond Pancakes: Our pancakes do not contain gluten and are served with pure maple syrup and Earth Balance vegan butter
Although there have been some changes to the menu, Fresh never disappoints. Even a meat-lover like myself leaves satisfied and feeling great after their meal. I don’t hesitate to recommend Fresh to family and friends because with their extensive, descriptive, and customizable menu there is truly something for everyone!
Review By: Sofia Martimianakis