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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Clever Rabbit - Down the Rabbit Hole

124th Street reigns as a perpetually bohemian and innovative street, replete with unique eateries - the stuff that you find nowhere else in the city. Enter The Clever Rabbit. This welcome addition to an already diverse neighbourhood serves only vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Though I am firmly omnivorous, I have a great admiration for good vegetarian cuisine. We tend to use animal protein as a crutch in North American cooking - we pick a meat and then build a meal around it. Absolutely nothing wrong with that either, but it is more difficult to say, "hey, let's have carrots for supper" and then built a nutritionally complete meal around that. (Perhaps the ability to do just that is what makes the namesake rabbit clever. But I digress.)

The Clever Rabbit is quiet on a very rainy weekday afternoon. Fascinating artwork featuring surrealistic horses hangs from the walls. Numerous small rabbit figurines adorn each table. They are cute, but there is something vaguely creepy about their eyes. The absence of pupils? The menu is a good page long and features a selection of meals both light and hearty. The ornate writing is a bit difficult to read but no matter. We sip on organic pomegranate tea. I'm surprised that they use paper cups when we asked for our order "to stay."

I dip into soup of the day which, quelle surprise, is vegetable. The veggies - carrots, onions, celery, spuds and the like - are tender-crisp and vibrant, but I'm thrown off by the veg to broth ratio.  There seems to be about 10 parts broth to 1 part veg, and by the time I've finished the veggies, the volume of broth has scarcely changed. The accompanying biscuit is devastatingly flaky and moist, but the smear of margarine detracts from its overall essence. I've never enjoyed the taste of marge. Next time, put it on the side.

Green salad is a 10/10. The greenery is abundant and fresh, and the addition of nuts and fruit make this salad a wondrously enjoyable experience. The dressing is complex and addictive. We ask what's in it, but the recipe is secret! Whatever is in it, it is lovely.

Our tab is close to thirty bucks, which feels a bit pricey for what we ate. Nonetheless, we retire next door to "Food Dish Wishes," a quirky-fun pet shop/pet bakery, and immediately fall in love with three orphan kittens. I wish I could take them home, but that would permanently mark me with "crazy cat lady" status. I hope someone adopts them. They are little heart-melters.

As for The Clever Rabbit, their concept is solid (i.e., interesting veg cuisine), but some fine-tuning is in order for some of their dishes to be elevated into the realm of "fantastical."

The Clever Rabbit Vegetarian Cafe on Urbanspoon


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