Oh man. Food coma. Raw (excuse me, “living”) food coma. This afternoon we were invited to a 7-month-young raw, vegan, organic restaurant at Quebec and 2nd called Organic Lives, where the owner, Preet, treated us to a five-course meal on the house. We ate entirely too much (you can do that with raw food?!) and now I feel like either napping or running a triathlon… I’m not sure which.
This is an incredibly long review so if you don’t want to read it, here’s the nutshell: It’s really good, the food is amazing, their trading practices are A+, I want to shop there for groceries all the time, but the atmosphere is a little too sterile for my tastes. Get the Oh My God Coconut Cream Pie. Or read more:
Kaylie and I had been into Organic Lives once before. I remember when it opened – this huge building right on my bike ride home – and I thought that there was no way it could be a vegan place. Finally, we went in, and I remember being turned off immediately by the sterile environment. It’s this yawning painted-white chasm of a warehouse with a makeshift cafe set up in the front. It seems incredibly empty; there’s no music playing and all of the employees are in all white and wearing hairnets. I mean, I’m the type of girl who likes a place proportionately to how bright and “funky” the decor is (and inversely proportionate to the price of the beer), so this place just seemed… unwelcoming. (They don’t serve beer, by the way, in case you were wondering.)
Still, we persevered, and checked out some of the items they have for sale on their front shelves. It turns out that Organic Lives imports incredible, rare, fantastic-looking organic foods from farmers all over the world. From nut butter made from jungle nuts harvested by an indigenous tribe in the Amazon to Himalayan rock salt to kelp noodles – everything I saw intrigued and excited me. We took a look at the menu, too, but didn’t order anything (we were not “in the monies” at the time).
So when Preet contacted us (through this very website) and invited us in to enjoy the Organic Lives experience, we were pretty excited. He sat and ate with us and gave us the low-down on the philosophy of the company; he’s truly trying to change the world through changing the way people interact with their food, which is totes what we’re about here at Vegan Mischief, so we got along swimmingly. He even set Kaylie up with a job, which is cool, because she’s been landscaping lately and I am tired of her coming home tired and dirty and uninterested in cooking. (Jokes?)
Okay. Right. The food. So the soft-spoken server (in white and a hairnet) brought us glasses of water to start. I assumed I was really, really thirsty, because that water tasted amazing – but no, it turns out it is really special water. I can’t remember what’s so great about it, but Kaylie drank four full glasses while we were there. Preet made sure we tried the organic raw young coconut water (chilled, natch), and that was – oh my goodness – incredible. And $5 for a little bottle. Really, though, it’s just money… right? The food is what’s important. Put good things in your body.
At his recommendation we tried the bruschetta and peruvian olive platter (see the olive, above: totally a sexy olive). We also had the Mexican spirals. So the bruschetta was more or less what I expected, except instead of being served on a tough flax cracker, like I would have thought, it was on this totally bread-like (but un-bread!) almond thing. The olives were fucking incredible. There was no bitterness to them at all. They were absolutely perfect. The Mexican spirals – well, those were not what I expected. It was avocado, tomato, and lettuce wrapped in a faux cheese made from pine nuts and this fruit roll up thing made of dehydrated tomato. I found the wrap stuck to my teeth and they didn’t stay together too well, but apparently they’re one of the more popular dishes, so that’s cool. The hot sauce they were served with, though… holy. Incredible. Raw, obviously, and fresh, and very pleasant-tasting. Of course, everything tasted super fresh. The flavours of the vegetables really came out. Impressive.
Organic Lives Bruschetta & Peruvian Olive Platter
Organic Lives Mexican Spirals
Organic Lives Carrot Avocado Velouté
After we ate all that (Preet had the soup) we had… more food. Pizza. Raw pizza. So I’d had raw pizza at Gorilla Food before, and I remember liking it, but I also liked this one. I’m not in a position to decide which one is better. This was just really good. Probably my favourite thing we ate. It was also served with a caesar salad. Simple, right? But incredible. Neat croutons, too. Probably made out of nuts of some kind. The pizza had more olives on it. Yes! This was satisfying, and $12, which is fair for the amount and quality of food. He also ordered us the masala cakes, which I was frankly underwhelmed by. I expected something with more spice, I think, and the mint chutney was… okay, but not stunning. I remember being struck by a subtle bitter taste that only happens with incredibly healthy raw food. They were served warm, though, which was a nice change – obviously, for a cooked-food eater who’s not even that jazzed about salads, an entirely cold meal is strange for me.
Organic Lives Masala Cakes
Organic Lives Pizza with Macadamia Cheese and THE BEST OLIVES
Organic Lives Caesar Salad
Okay, so, we ate all that, AND THEN WE ATE PIE. AND IT WAS THE BEST PIE EVER. I swear I have never eaten a dessert that I enjoyed as much as that one. It’s called “The Oh My God” because that’s what everyone says when they try a bite, and it’s $7, and look here at how tiny it is:
Organic Lives “Oh My God” Coconut Cream Pie
But okay, I swear, this is what I want my birthday cake to be. The two ingredients: organic raw coconut. Himalayan dates. Oh, and bliss. I sat there and savoured it with my eyes closed. It was truly incredible. (Too bad an entire pie of this stuff would be about five million dollars.)
Other impressions I had while I was there: they have a really professional operation going on. Preet had a vision and followed through with it; he doesn’t compromise his ideals for anything, and he’s built a business on the idea that food can change the world. At least, the way we interact with our food can. I totally believe in that and I am a huge fan of what he’s doing. I never would have thought, upon entering Organic Lives, that it was such a put-together and passionate philosophy powering it, but it definitely is. I’m impressed. I also bought some of the sun-dried pitted black Peruvian olives and some finely ground Himalayan rock salt.
So here’s the short-form. Organic Lives imports incredible, fresh, organic, raw food from around the world in a sustainable, kind, super amazing way, and then makes totally incredible living food with it. If you do nothing else, go in there and eat dessert. Or get take-out, because it is not an atmosphere conducive to rowdy and relaxed conversation, but god damn is the food good.