Vegetarian Delights

One of the great things about Toronto is how easy it is to find veggie meals while out (unlike some of those other cities where you can get a side of slaw and chips). Sometimes, however, it's hard to find those meat-free foods on the cheap.

Annapurna to the rescue.

This restaurant's been around for a while, inconspicuously sitting on Bathurst just south of Dupont. It's much bigger inside than it looks on the outside. The first thing that hits you when you walk in is the incense. It's not overwhelming once you're sitting at a table, but the initial whiff can be a bit of a surprise. Inside everything is bright and cheery; yellow and blue walls, white tables and chairs, high ceiling and good lighting.

The servers dress in saris and are possibly the most mellow waitstaff I've ever encountered. It could be because the resto is inspired by some guru-dude (sorry, I wasn't taking notes) who basically preaches the whole 'lets all chill together' thing. Even the sugar packets have little quotes on them. No one is going to rush you here.

So, on to the food. Like most Indian places I've been, the servings look tiny, but I'm stuffed half-way through. The menu includes basic North American stand-bys (sandwiches, salads, tofu-burgers), but the treat is the South Indian stuff (much of which is vegan, by the way). I had vegetables covered in chickpea batter and deep fried, which was warm and mildly spicy and incredibly filling. My friend Ann had a sampler plate which had rice, two vegetable dishes (the potatoes were apparently particularly good) and a touch of very spicy pickle. My sister Sam had the simple pita pizza, which she described as "everything [she] dreamed of and more."

They have a wonderful selection of beverages, including lassi (one of my favourite drinks ever), cider, soy shakes and tea. We also took a deep breath and went for dessert, which they keep displayed on a sideboard to tempt. Ann had some strawberry-banana kind of pie, I had chocolate tofu-mousse pie, and Sam had blueberry. All were small enough portions to be properly appreciated without seeming skimpy. The tofu mousse - which I've never tried before (tofu can be dodgy sometimes) was delicious - a perfect creamy, cheesecake like texture and rich with chocolate. Reports of the fruit pies were equally promising.

As I hinted at the beginning, all of this food is incredibly reasonably priced. Our mains were all under $6, and I don't think there's anything on the menu more than $8. Drinks were about $2-3, and dessert was under $4 (they have a selection of biscuits and gelato as well).

So the next time you need to take that veggie friend of yours out, skip Fresh for once and check out Annapurna. I'm sure I'll be back.

Annapurna, found at 1085 Bathurst, is open Mon-Sat 11:30am-9:00pm, except Wed, when it's 11:30am-6:30pm. They accept cash, debit, Visa and MC. The number, should you want to double check hours or desserts, is (416) 537-8513.

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