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Restaurants

Rawlicious (Yorkville)

Posted by Meaghan Binstock / Reviewed on December 18, 2010 / review policy

RawliciousRawlicious, one of Toronto's more well-known purveyors of raw, vegan food, has opened a new location in Yorkville. A far cry from the Junction neighbourhood that houses the original eatery, Rawlicious is now making its healthy dishes available to a whole new crowd.

The Cumberland Street location is notably a little less hippy, a little more Louis Vuitton, but the fresh, delicious food and laid-back vibe remain the same. Sure, many turn their noses up at the idea of raw food, assuming it's nothing but a pile of cold vegetables on a plate, but let me assure you, this restaurant's offerings are much more.

At this time of year, when holiday parties and seasonal festivities are in full swing, most of us tend to indulge in copious amounts of rich foods and holiday treats, and rightly so. But finding myself in a haze of eggnog cocktails and way too many baked goods, a good healthy meal seems very appealing, perhaps the antidote to my glutton's guilt, and so I decide it's time to do what my mom always tells me, and eat my vegetables.

RawliciousNestled in the first floor of a brick house, the small space is just one room with an open kitchen in the back, tables lining each side, and a little seating area with two cozy chairs in the front window. Paintings by local artists decorate the walls, and though this location is more upscale in appearance than the original, it still maintains that feeling sort of like you're eating in someone's house which I remember from the junction restaurant. The only aspect that's a little disconcerting is the spa-like music that plays overhead and adds a kind of awkward, quiet element to the room.

RawliciousThe menu here is the same as the other Rawlicious, and after some suggestions from our server we decide to start with two of the smoothies ($6.50). My friend opts for the tropical green, a bright green beverage consisting of spinach, kale, banana, mango and pineapple. Curious to see what a vegan version of eggnog might taste like, I order the eggnog smoothie, made with nutmilk, banana, vanilla, date, nutmeg and cardamom. The drink tastes of warm spices, and though not much like the real thing, it's a delicious shake.

RawliciousWe start with the spring rolls ($6), a mix of finely chopped veggies in rice paper wraps (the only non-raw item on the menu - other than things like vinegar and maple syrup). These tangy little rolls are stuffed with fresh herbs and veggies such as cucumber, carrot, peppers and cabbage marinated in a vinegar mixture with lots of punch and tasting distinctly of spicy fresh ginger. They come sided with a well-paired, thick thai sesame sauce for dipping.

RawliciousFor my main I order the Pad Thai ($14), a base of raw kelp and zucchini noodles with chopped romaine, peppers, carrots, green onion and cashews, coated with the same thai cashew sesame sauce that comes with the spring rolls. The dish is served cold - as are all the items on the menu - which is different from the usual steaming hot, fried noodles I'm used to, but it really doesn't matter, this is great dish.

The thin, slippery kelp noodles mixed with the spiralled zucchini, slightly more dense in consistency, gives the dish a variety of pleasant textures, especially with the addition of the crunchy vegetables and creamy sauce. Those bold and distinctive thai flavours are still prominent, it's just a lighter, fresher version.

My friend orders the pasta bolognese ($13 - top photo), a raw vegan spin on the classic dish that may have Italian cuisine traditionalists cringing at the thought, but trust me, it's good. The same spiraled zucchini serves as the pasta, sauced with a mix of garlicky pesto and fresh tomato marinara sauce and topped with crumbled 'neat balls,' a sort of seasoned, nut-based creation that replaces the usual meat in such a recipe. The zucchini really transforms quite well into a pasta substitute, and the generous dish is definitely not lacking in flavour.

RawliciousFor anyone who's had much experience with raw or vegan food, they've probably noticed the prominence of the cashew in such style of cuisine. From savoury entrees to sauces, 'butters', and 'cheeses', sweets and baked goods, these nuts are the vegan cook's secret weapon, and versatile indeed.

RawliciousThe cashew makes its final appearance of the meal in our dessert, a chocolate raspberry 'cheesecake.' This creamy confection is silky smooth, with a crunchy almond base, and drizzled with chocolate sauce and a wonderful, fresh raspberry coulis. The dessert goes nicely with some french press coffee, ($2) served with almond milk, of course.

I've often heard vegan food criticized for trying to make veg versions of already existing dishes rather than concocting their own original recipes, but some flavours just work together, vegetarian or not. And really, what sounds more appetizing, vegan pasta bolognese, or bowl of shredded zucchini with tomatoes and seasoned nut mixture? Exactly.

RawliciousThere are certain elements of raw food that hold many people back, like the temperature of the dishes, or the perception that such food is bland and unfulfilling. Rawlicious takes a healthy, sustainable concept and turns it into creative, intricate, made-from-scratch dishes that are full of flavour and very satisfying. I leave feeling full, minus that unfortunate I-just-ate-a-brick feeling that often ensues after downing a tasty, but much less health-conscious meaty meal, and I'll definitely be back for seconds.

RawliciousPhotos by Taralyn Marshall

Discussion

21 Comments

GL / December 19, 2010 at 03:12 am
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How was the service compared to the original location?
nl / December 19, 2010 at 04:01 pm
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Terrible service at the original!
Amy / December 20, 2010 at 06:16 am
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I think it's a great idea to open up in the yorkville area but i find it's a little too pricey for me even though its a great option to eating out.
kat / December 20, 2010 at 11:32 am
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Are the prices the same at both locations?
GL replying to a comment from kat / December 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm
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yes.
v. / December 20, 2010 at 02:09 pm
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$14 for a bowl of veggie noodles with veggies? No thanks.
Elena / December 20, 2010 at 02:44 pm
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Yay! Yorkville location is a great idea! I love Rawlicious and this location is more central, i.e. will make it easier to go there with colleagues & friends.
For those people complaining that Rawlicious is pricey, consider this: great, fresh, organic/local and otherwise great ingredients cost $, and so does the skill to make those breath-taking & creative dishes. I still can't figure out how they do their "ice-cream" It boggles my mind! I'll take Rawlicious any day over 95% of other restaurants out there. Love it.
Yafa Sakkejha / December 20, 2010 at 04:35 pm
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I second Elena...it's a really great deal and I love that it's so central
GL replying to a comment from Elena / December 20, 2010 at 04:44 pm
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Raw ice cream is a breeze to make:
cashew butter+choc powder+dates+water => into an ice cream maker and freeze.

other recipes use coconut pulp/cream etc

Heck you can even buy Raw Ice cream these days:
http://www.rawicecreamcompany.com/
handfed / December 20, 2010 at 10:55 pm
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raw icecream:

1 glass orange juice
1 freezer

viola!
yourmom / December 27, 2010 at 11:46 pm
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I think the service at the orginal is pretty great.
Tim / January 5, 2011 at 06:40 pm
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just testing
florence / January 14, 2011 at 05:33 pm
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I went there this afternoon expecting good things but was unimpressed the minute my partner and I stepped in the door.
Service was unfriendly and the atmosphere lacked the warmth we had hoped for.

I would strongly suggest avoiding this restaurant
abe / March 5, 2011 at 09:20 pm
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i would strongly suggest you ignore florence's comment. the service at both locations is phenomenal, as is the food. if you're the kind of person that needs people kissing your ass the whole night, yorkville's got tons of yuppie-prone restaurants that are used to making you feel like you're above everyone else.
don't hate.
Lily / March 14, 2011 at 10:50 am
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Okay service, overpriced food that is nothing special AT ALL. I would go as far as saying that it's not even good.
Tom / May 28, 2011 at 03:52 pm
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Excellent restaurant! Good food, nice servers, and wonderful atmosphere! I definitely recommend it!
MJ / December 14, 2011 at 06:56 am
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In our family- we need a restaurant that can serve gluten, egg, dairy, and soy- free food to various members, as well as vegetarian to another. So generally, dining out is an significant chore to feed and accommodate. I had heard good things about rawlicious and was completely taken by surprise at my first visit. Wonderfully amazing and flavorful food. when I brought my family back the next time, everyone ate and loved it without feeling like something was missing. And yes, the price does reflect the high quality (and quantity) servings. Looking forward to lunch at the new location tomorrow!
BRAVEN replying to a comment from Elena / January 10, 2012 at 07:34 pm
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I agree with Elena!

organic is very expensive!

it does take a lot of training to learn how to make the awesome dishes at Rawlicious or any gourmet raw foods.

most people don't have a clue about what type of training goes into learning to make gourmet raw foods and then actually making it from scratch.

it is all natural, organic and extremely high in nutrients, the foods at Rawlicious.

I think that Rawlicious should give some classes to people that think making raw foods gourmet style is so quick and easy.

Furthermore the last time i went to Rawlicious, NOV. 2011 the service was excellent and the waitress was amazing.

she should teach the other wait staff how to properly deal with the customers there.

Braven
Tanis Tannenbaum / March 20, 2012 at 01:46 pm
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I have been curious about your location, and what it is that you do, while watching you prepare to open in Markham.

During a simple on-line search, I found the site attached above and do have a very serious question for you.

I noticed in the attached article that you have promoted local growers through your gardening program, which I do commend, HOWEVER this goes against many of your statements regarding organic foods.

Since they are being obtained from local growers I would have to assume that they are NOT certified ORGANIC. I cannot condone any operation that falsely promotes and I quote from your site "Raw food can take your health, your emotional happiness, your energy & vitality to a whole new level" when in reality your clients are potentially your unsuspecting victims of who knows what pesticide use from your uncontrolled vegetable acquisition.

HOW CAN YOU CHARGE ORGANIC PRODUCTS RATES for uncontrolled uncertified products?

Completely disgustedly yours,

Tanis
Heather / June 18, 2012 at 07:56 am
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My husband and I went there for a dinner. We found it not only expensive but definitely not worth it. Sorry, but it was not as tasty as it was described as being. The hot chocolate was the pits. And for a $50 meal, I expect more than to be told, "come to the front to pay." For $20 deals at an Indian restaurant they actually have the energy to bring you the bill! Something to consider in the protocol for the staff.

As for attitude..the staff was OK but it is always weird when such an OPEN atmosphere is created with a friend/customer sitting at the front and having one of the cooks talk non-stop about her personal life. Sort of dominates the scene and not to sound bitchy...but not everyone wants to hear.

I also find that raw food restaurants give this general air that because they are raw they are better and do not have to go out of their way to serve you. Asking the question if it was good can generally be a tip off esp. when lacking true sincerity.

We will never return and prefer to spend out money at non-raw places for half the price.
Ashley / August 26, 2012 at 09:26 pm
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I really love the food here. I'm vegan, I go on and off raw. But, it's too expensive fur the portion size. The Rawwich is amazing, but super small and $10. It's barely an appetizer. Live Food Bar is somewhate same in price and serves huge portions of their organic raw vegan food :)

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