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Restaurants

Live

Posted by Tim / Reviewed on June 19, 2006 / review policy

Raw EnchiladasEvery review I've read of Live has awarded it five stars. Restaurant critics just drool over the place. Any what's not to like? Great philosophy, brilliant flavours and good atmosphere. It's been so popular they've grown from four seats to five times that amount in no time.

On the evening I decide to go I called in advance and was told to just show up as they don't take reservations; and that they should have no problem seating us. When our group of three arrives we found the place packed (a good sign).

The manager was sort of apologetic but promised to have us seated in a staging area near the kitchen momentarily. 25 minutes later we're sitting. In the staging area. We get some drinks and chill; and are informed that we'll be shifted to a real table "in a couple minutes". Two drinks later we're still waiting.

Note to manager: lose the idea of a staging area.

Eventually we graduate to the main dining area and take a glance at the menu. It looks good. There's a raw food section and a heated food section. We're told the menu changes every month or two.

One dish stands out from the pack. It's a raw food sampler. It's not a lot of food but it tastes great.

For my main course I select a raw food version of enchiladas (above). They were already featured in the sampler so I know what I'm getting into.

Someone else opts for the raw pizza (below). Intense flavours but a little disappointing the portion is so small. On that note, it seems the kitchen tries to make the plates look bigger by loading each one up with a side salad.

Raw Pizza

A morrocan stew (below) comes from the heated section of the menu. It's the biggest portion by far but it lacks interesting flavour and disappoints.

Live Restaurant Food

Overall, I enjoyed the food at Live, but feel the service still needs to iron out some kinks. I also think that this is the kind of place you might go home hungry. An app and a main - side salads and all - just might not fill you up.

More photos! They have gluten free beer on the menu. This was a real treat as I don't know any other restaurant in the city that serves this.

Gluten Free Beer

Here's a photo at the entrance to the restaurant.

Live Restaurant Dupont

Live, 258 Dupont (at Spadina). 416.515.2002

Discussion

22 Comments

sophia / June 19, 2006 at 05:07 pm
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Wow! Do they have gluten free food to go with that beer? If so, I'm willing to give the place a try even thought I'm not so keen on the whole "raw food" trend.
glynis / December 26, 2008 at 03:04 pm
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La Messagere is served at the Beer Bistro as well.
Yafa Sakkejha / April 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm
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i met the owner, Jennifer Italiano, and she's fantastic. her personal story is awesome. she is also a glowing picture of beauty, which speaks to the lifestyle! thanks for reviewing this.
Dayna Boyer / April 20, 2010 at 12:01 pm
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I used to think raw food was a trend too, but we're supposed to be eating 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day so it's worth experimenting with raw food for your own health.

I thought Live was an amazing restaurant, and the serving sizes were huge! I had the Sunshine wrap cause I wanted to give raw bread a try, and it tasted so much better than the standard tortilla most wraps are made with.
Ni / July 14, 2010 at 11:20 am
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I've been there twice, and have been really disappointed with the taste of the food. It's really really bland. I know raw food won't be half as exciting as cooked food, but you can still put spices in it. The first time I went, I got the "big mac" burger, and it was gross. I got some salad the second time, and it was really underwhelming. Won't be going back again.
Yvonne / August 9, 2010 at 10:36 am
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I've been to Live only once, and I'm glad to say that their creative menu and healthy food selections blew me away. I think i ordered the raw flax vegan wrap, and it was amazingly delicious as far as raw foods go. If i lived closer i would go there everyday for lunch! Even though the foods are kind of pricy, but you know its worth every penny for the taste, the ingredients, the visual appeal, and the fact that they're organic. Kudos to good food at LIVE!!!
rt / February 23, 2012 at 10:43 pm
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I've been to Live twice in the past couple of years. Both times were very underwhelming. Small portions, high prices, but most problematically it was terrible food. The burger I ordered was foul tasting, largely due to the poor dressing (not to mention strangely textured, but that's often to be expected in raw fare). There was way too much balsamic vinegar in there! My friend's dish was similarly over-vinegared, so much so it was nearly unpalatable. There's no reason for raw food to be seasoned so badly.
Laura / April 20, 2012 at 06:25 pm
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Vegan? Yeah right? I went there for dinner last night, really enjoyed my experience and the food was delicious. Until later that night when my apparently vegan meal caused a fairly severe lactose intolerant reaction within my body.

Beware of the desserts.
Wee / June 1, 2012 at 08:52 pm
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Only been there once and was sick as a dog afterwards. It was the most horrible food I have ever tasted and I felt ill while I was still there..do they use a refrigerator for anything? I hardly ate anything, paid the $30 and wondered why people go here.
Lisa / July 22, 2012 at 08:47 pm
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Went to Live tonight and was so disappointed in our meal (especially since I had been looking forward to going for years). I had the Bacon Cheese burger because it sounded interesting and I just felt like a veggie burger but what I got was a bland, small and flavourless patty. It was suppose to be topped with all sorts of delicious toppings (eggplant bacon, sesame hemp mayo etc.) but all that I could taste was the chickpea patty (which completely fell apart after the second bit) and the bun. If there were toppings, you could hardly taste them. It was accompanied by a few soft (stale) veggie chips and a pickle (and it cost $15!). My boyfriend had the tofu and chips which came with nice tasting chickpea fries and some uninspired deep fried tofu and a bland salad ($16).

The place was quite busy, so they must be doing something right or maybe the area is just lacking in vegetarian restaurants but I wish this place could have been better. The service and decor were very nice though.
Sara / August 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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I went here recently with friends. The food was great, and we loved the outdoor patio in the back. The only thing I found offputting was that they wouldn't separate our bill (brought out a pen and paper for us to do it ourselves)and it turned out to be quite pricy. All in all though I would recommend this place.
tthomson replying to a comment from Laura / August 27, 2012 at 03:28 pm
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That's impossible -- You should check your allergies again --there is absolutely no dairy used in any dishes at Live Food Bar or any of the production meals.
GY / August 27, 2012 at 03:58 pm
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First of all I LOVE Live Food bar. I think many people are just not used to Raw Vegan and or Vegan foods... it seems Live has some haters and that is apparent in most businesses that becomes as successful as live has over the years. BlogTO seems to have alot of people commenting in very rude fashion on many posts - people love to throw rocks here - quite juvenile to me. Some of these claims above are ridiculous tho and I would bet my life they are competitors or people who are not used to this kind of food. The vegan Bacon cheese burger is delicious and I eat it often. The people who claim they got sick are either allergic to something or are just exaggerating--Raw food is hard to digest for some. Some people just don't understand their own system and how to eat properly. Their system is probably sensitive and they mix dishes that should not be combined or overeat. The first time I ate raw food I ate so many things I had a stomach ache. Now I know better and stick to simpler dishes - its just ignorance. Ignorance is bliss in some cases but again these claims are ridiculous and make me wonder if they are actual customers!? I would bet my life they aren't! Go throw your rocks elsewhere....like in the mirror!
Josh / September 29, 2012 at 03:24 pm
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I'm a vegetarian and eat out at places like these regularly (Veg Haven, Rawlicious, Hogtown, etc.) so I was really excited to try Live the other night. For years I've heard such good things! Aaand, my verdict: I don't think I'd go again!

The food is okay but simply doesn't deliver compared to other options in the city. I had the "Uber Protein" salad, which was completely flavourless and would be put to shame by Fresh's equivalent effort (which is a dollar or two cheaper and a bit bigger I believe). I was with a bigger group of 9 and it was a toss-up as to who liked their meal and who didn't. The tostadas looked great, the cannelloni interesting, but then two in my group got the sunshine wrap which was miniscule and finished within five minutes. Then they had to watch everyone else eat. It's very disappointing when half your table isn't satisfied with its meal. We didn't stay for dessert.

The decor is lovely and the place has a great buzz about it so I see why it's a popular spot for healthy people who want a nice night out, but you can eat better and cheaper at almost any other veg restaurant downtown.
Asia / October 9, 2012 at 05:04 pm
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Amazing! I have been here a number of times now and have never been disappointed. The food is great!
Deborah / February 4, 2013 at 05:16 pm
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If you are looking for incredibly good gluten-free food (and beer), you must try out Kensington Cornerstone in at 2A Kensington Avenue, in Kensington Market. The owner/chef has celiac, and the entire menu is gluten free. He even made special dishes for a friend who also cannot eat dairy due to severe allergies. The food is top quality, yet not over priced. It is not vegetarian, but there is a good selection of vegetarian dishes.
gran t / May 16, 2013 at 11:40 pm
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Food tasty and nutritious but overpriced for what you get
ve / August 5, 2013 at 02:41 am
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Was really excited about trying the food here but after getting an app and our drinks our server forgot about us for an hour (there were only two tables in the restaurant) and then rudly told us they were closed and gave us our bill. When she realized her mistake she comped our app which was nice, however I'm not sure if I'd go back.
Mo replying to a comment from ve / August 5, 2013 at 01:11 pm
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Why would you not say 'excuse me we'd like to order' if there were only 2 tables, are you that passive or introverted, odd?
ve replying to a comment from Mo / August 5, 2013 at 04:19 pm
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It is not the wait that mattered. It is the fact that the server entirely forgot my tables order. It was not busy enough to warrant such a huge mistake.
LT / October 17, 2013 at 07:24 pm
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Nice list! Of course Hibiscus and Live are my fav's....would have been nice tho if BlogTO had not used such old, outdated dull pics of Live's food....I remember those dishes and the pics they used are probably from at least 6 - 8 years ago!
LT replying to a comment from Deborah / October 17, 2013 at 07:33 pm
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Why would you recommend another restaurant on a review? Seems incredibly rude! And I've eaten there --it does not even remotely compare to Live and is not organic.

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