Sometimes, you just need to spoil yourself. It was a rainy, cold Tuesday, and I just didn’t feel like cooking. So, at a friend’s suggestion, we headed to the Boon Burger Café, which bills itself as “Canada’s first all vegan burger café.” I really have no way of conclusively proving that claim, at least not without doing a ton of research, so I’m going to just choose to believe them. Anyhow…
I was keen to go, but a bit worried that the whole “vegan burger” thing would cause my partner to make a face (he’s one of those men that thinks a meal isn’t really a meal without meat). I tried to be sneaky about it by simply omitting the “vegan” side of the equation, but he happened to mention it to someone at work, and they filled him in… Long story short, he decided to tag along anyways, and was pleasantly surprised by his experience — I think his actual words were, “This is fucking great!”
I decided to try the salsa burger ($7.50 – a grilled mushroom rice patty topped with chunky salsa, avocado, daiya cheddar, red onion, tomato and lettuce) with a side of their sesame potatoes for $3.50 (french fries), my friend opted for her fave, the Thanksgiving burger ($7.75 – a grilled potato-crusted “turkey” patty topped with mayo, cranberry sauce, maple-glazed yams, caramelized onions, gravy and lettuce), and my partner picked the special of the day, the BBQ burger ($7.75) with a side of the sesame potatoes, as well.
I’ve gotta say, I was impressed. Between the design and décor of the space and their branding (love their logo and the wooden trays), to the quality and flavour of the food itself, Boon has really nailed it. The mushroom rice patty is extremely flavourful and the consistency was spot-on – not too dry and crumbly, like many veggie-friendly versions can be, and I loved the ancient organic whole-grain buns.
While messy, my salsa burger was well worth the effort (I actually resorted to using a fork and a knife mid-way through the meal), and my two dining companions seemed equally satisfied by their choices (hell, if you can put a smile on my meat-eating man’s face with a vegan burger, you’re doing something right!). Their version of the fries were surprisingly pleasant, as well – when I first saw them, I was a bit put off by their appearance (they look undercooked, but actually aren’t) – and the sesame seeds give them a unique twist. My one complaint is the daiya cheese; for some reason, the aftertaste reminded me of margarine. Next time, I’d leave it off entirely.
While noshing away, we were chatting about how cheap fast food is: you can easily get a huge meal for under $5. But afterwards, you generally feel like garbage. So not worth it. While you’re definitely paying a premium for this vegan version of the fast food classic (burger and fries), I would argue it’s well worth it to pay a bit more for quality ingredients that will leave you full and satisfied, without any of the regret, after the fact.
Bellies content, there were a few sweet toothes that needed to be sated, still…. So I suggested Baked Expectations, in Osborne, for dessert (go big or go home, right?)
After staring into the dessert cases at the impressive selection of cakes, pies and tortes, a server gently suggested we take a seat and order at our table (this is slightly problematic for me, as I think you should be able to point directly AT the delicious tower of whipped chocolate and cream, and order “THAT!) But we followed the instructions and took a seat. It took a while before someone finally meandered over and dropped off the menus, and there was a bit of a delay, again, before he returned to take our orders, but all in all, it was friendly service. We ended up selecting the brownie (me, $4.25), the old-fashioned chocolate cake (friend, $7.25) and the key lime pie (partner, $7.25).
Now, disclaimer: I have been to Baked Expectations on one occasion before, when I first moved to Winnipeg. I came alone, and decided to have dessert for dinner (hey, life is short…) I ended up selecting the Tia Maria Torte, and was a) overwhelmed by the portion (it was enormous, and I only finished half) and underwhelmed by the quality (it had a strange greasy, crunchy combination going on). In short, I was not a fan of this particular dessert. But I wanted to give this place another shot, and was very pleased with it, the second time around.
My brownie was rich and moist, and the icing maintained a rich chocolatey flavour, and wasn’t overwhelmed by the flavours of the butter or icing sugar, as can be the case sometimes! With a slight dusting of walnuts on top, this was a perfect, traditional brownie treat (and there was more than enough to share). My partner’s key lime pie was fluffy and flavourful, though not as tart as I like my key lime, and the graham cracker crust was just the right thickness. My friend’s “old-fashioned chocolate cake” actually had a layer of banana concealed within, which surprised everyone at the table, as we weren’t aware that traditional chocolate cake included banana. Fortunately, she’s a banana fan, so she was pleased with the combo.
In short, I’ll be back to Baked Expectations, I’m sure, and I will ogle the display cases for as long as I like, thank you very much!