Address: 1-709 Corydon Ave
The quest for eating the best of everything naturally attracts us to the hottest, newest, most creative kitchens in the city, motivating us to be open-minded to trying the next new thing. While eating vegetables is hardly a new idea, shifting diets toward plant-based foods is gaining popularity among those driven by health, environmentalism and perhaps, like us, curiosity. Circle Kitchen, new to the trendy Corydon strip as of last summer rewards that curiosity.
Circle Kitchen’s success depends somewhat on defying the odds within a whole global restaurant industry that relies on larger profit margins from selling meat, and it is already filling a hole in the market with its vegan menu. It is also delivering some of the most exciting tastes we’ve had lately. Lack of commitment towards a vegan diet need not deter anyone from this gem.
The bright subterranean space is casually stylish. A playful produce print wall sets the scene and a dozen seats keep things intimate.
A chalkboard menu lays out an all-day selection. An abundance of interesting bevvies—fruit smoothies, kombucha on tap and vibrant yellow turmeric lattes—shouldn’t be missed. Trace ginger enriches the hot turmeric drink, brightening each sip with an anti-inflammatory boost.
A few salads, appetizers and daily features make up the short menu. Omnivores accustomed to adding meat on top of greens are introduced here to ingredients that balance and flavour lettuce combinations. Walnuts, spiced with smoky paprika and cumin add meaty bite and depth to the familiar taco salad combination of rice, beans, tomato, corn and avocado.
Toasted and spiced coconut subs in for bacon in the Caesar combination. Capers and cashews prepared as Parmesan cheese and garlic faux eggy dressing punctuate this vegan version of a classic.
Each dish packs a load of components, proving salad can be a meal to sate even the biggest of appetites. Roasted broccoli, sweet potato, quinoa and fermented purple cabbage add bitter, sweet, nutty and sour contrasts to kale in the big “everyday bowl.”
A nod (perhaps) to dedicated toast bars, trending abroad, Circle Kitchen offers a couple renditions. Our bet is on the lox toast being a runaway hit. Seemingly designed as a way to quell longings for smoked salmon, it also satisfies cravings for something novel. Marinated with tamari or soy, cider vinegar and smoky paprika, shaved roasted carrots deliver the subtleties of salmon atop cashew cream “cheese” and a seedy slice of bread. A shaved nori, capers and red onion garnish elevates this little treat to winning status.
As plant-based eating becomes more mainstream, spots like Circle Kitchen show how dietary restrictions need not result in deprivation. Discovering good eats comes from being willing to try something new. After all, isn’t that how all change occurs?