Las Vegan

Crab, Chicken and Shrimp, OH MY!

Posted in Restaurants by karoumy on January 2, 2013

Le Commensal is now a regular restaurant.

The news came through the Toronto Vegetarian Directory Update for January 2013. You can read all about their so-called move from vegetarian to flexitarian here.

Mr. Tremblay, President and CEO, is correct that this will upset people. It’s disappointing. I was not aware that the other branches of Le Commensal were no longer vegetarian as of October of 2012.

I cannot lie. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if it wasn’t for the directory update. It’s been a while since I visited Le Commensal. I wouldn’t take that to mean anything since the last time I walked by it seemed busy.

The vegan options in downtown Toronto have expanded while Le Commensal has stayed the same. Their menu hasn’t changed significantly in 10+ years.

They, along with other older vegetarian restaurants, seem stuck in hippy-er times when most vegetarians wore Patchouli and Birkenstocks. And talked to crystal rocks.

Today’s vegetarian wants excitement when dining out. We want the beauty of a well-presented balsamic-reduction drizzled plate. Or a deep fried piece of mock meat with fat sauce. Boiled seaweed and baked tofu is home cooking. It’s basically communism to suggest that restaurant meals be equal to home-cooked meals for vegetarians. We have celebrity chefs too, ya know.

And the price tag is hard to ignore for cafeteria food. Even hospitals are moving away from that.

Businesses understand that the vegan market is a captive one. Simply adding one  item to a menu with the word vegan on it will bring out vegans. And that’s great. However, I’m not sure how many vegans actually still eat at Le Commensal. It seems like a gateway restaurant. When was the last time you heard someone say “Commensal is the best!”

It’s a compromise restaurant, isn’t it? You’re downtown and there aren’t that many other options. But downtown has changed. We’ve got a Vegan Restaurant in the Eaton Centre. And many ethnic and fast food restaurants with vegan options in the area.

They boast in their press release that the chickens they serve are family-farm raised (whatever they think that proves). And that their marine animals aren’t on any endangered lists. They are obviously not writing that for the hardcores who are already critical of their inclusion of dairy in their menu. Ingredients that are completely unnecessary with today’s vegan recipe technology.

Vegan restaurants like Ottawa’s Zen Kitchen seem to easily attract non-vegans. The last time I was there the table next to me was going on about the joy of eating Foie Gras. No one at that table was vegan. So why the move in the opposite direction?

Anyways, why even bother. I’d probably just go to Chipotles for cafeteria-style eating when I’m in the area. This post is mostly an excuse to vent.

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