There are times when you just have to make a reservation to have lunch with your mother, to use the newest place to say; "Hey Mum, let's have lunch, you're buying!"
We went to Planta Toronto.
Since Grasslands, with its superb food and iffy service, closed, there's been no luxury vegetarian restaurant in town. No more!
I'll let you check out Planta Toronto's website for details on how it came to be and to peruse the menu (sadly, they don't list the desserts -- how can you drool in anticipation, beforehand?!). Here, I'll just talk the fabulous lunch, a timeout from my life of getting back my independence.
I've become rather accessibility conscious this year. I've always had trouble with heavy glass doors (looking at you Dark Horse) because of my seatbelt injury and brain injury weakening my shoulder, but since having had to adopt a cane to keep my balance while my brain adjusts to the flood of new visual information as a result of my eye surgery, I've become acutely conscious of accessibility as a big issue in today's society, like heavy doors sans automatic door openers.
Planta Toronto has an automatic door opener.
Dear sweet Lord, a restaurant that wants all possible customers to enter? In a time of our provincial government not enforcing the AODA (law mandating accessibility), this is Heaven.
The servers are casually dressed; the hostesses greeted us with a smile. We were immediately seated and asked if we would like water. Definitely! The young, friendly waitress returned with a swan-like glass jug filled with fresh water in which floated long slices of cucumber and lemon. She filled our intricately cut glasses that harmonized with the banquette fabric.
I admired the table. Cloth napkins! Do you know how long it's been since I ate at a place that uses CLOTH?! Too long, sigh.
We ordered drinks. People with money surrounded us, older men in the development business and women who lunch. A lot of us were asking our waitresses what they recommended or, if they saw our confused faces, the staff were recommending. Our waitress said: the Botanica is my favourite. Apple, cucumber, lemon. Light, refreshing. I do prefer carrot or citrus though.
Our waitress was very happy to explain the menu to us, how it was designed for tapas or to have our own plates, whichever we preferred. If we preferred the latter but wanted to try a few, doggy bags were no problem. (Unlike more and more establishments, they boxed the leftovers up for us and placed them in stylish paper bags ready to carry with their easy-to-hold handles.)
Caesar salad was a beautiful plate of crisp romaine, cut and placed like layered palm leaves, with smoky-intense mushroom bacon, flashy candy-cane red-pink noodley ribbons of sweet-biting pickled onions, and a luxurious garlicky dressing.
The rectangular Pizza Frenchie had a thick edge and thin crust with blackened-toasted circles underneath to provide flavourful crunch. The edge could have used more toasting but was good. Over a spread of what I think was cashew mozzarella, were too-few caramelized tiny squares of squash, dollops of lemon truffle cream, sliced 'shrooms, and lots of arugula that slid off the pizza altogether in one bite. Kind of made it obvious when the green was gone that there was not enough squash, slices of white mushrooms, and dollops.
Dessert was -- wow!
Cold bites of raspberry sang fresh notes against the gooey salted caramel and deep chocolate sand of the brownies with the smooth peanut butter mousse providing alternating hits of peanuts and of a silky background.
We digested this delightful lunch over a cup of Assam-Darjeeling (their Signature Black Tea) for me and coffee for my mother.
The quiet, patient waiter who took our plates at the end asked us sincerely for any criticisms. Since I was floating on a cloud of chocolate blissdom, hard to come up with any in that moment.