LOV Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisine – Montreal, Quebec

A trendy and upscale atmosphere with affordable prices, LOV is vegan and vegetarian cuisine that is sure to satisfy vegetarian and vegan palettes as well as the voracious omnivore. With three locations to serve you within the heart of bustling Montreal, you’re bound to enjoy your experience while indulging in cuisine that is new, innovative, and unique.

The LOV location of 1232 de la Montagne Street offers a bright, lively and welcoming environment with a friendly and personable staff and who are bilingual in English and French. The staff there knows their menu well and are able to describe their dishes offered, provide suggestions, wine pairings, and even explain how certain dishes came to be.

LOV is busy, even on a Wednesday evening, and tends to be filled with a young professional or student crowd. There’s no pressure to dress up for this dining experience but patrons tend to include dinner at LOV as part of a date night out, or an after-work escape.

The menu at LOV is presented in both English and French so it’s easy to figure out exactly what you’re ordering. Though all items on the menu are vegan-friendly, there are a few non-vegan alternatives available, such as dairy-based cheese curds for the poutine and parmesan for the pasta, for those who prefer the flavour and texture and who just aren’t completely ready to dive into a fully vegan meal. As LOV also offers a brunch menu, it’s hard to not serve classic eggs for brunch, so during that time, chicken eggs are offered as well.

For our evening at LOV, we began our meal with a couple of drinks; classic red for my shooting partner Yehuda and I opted for the Paloma Basilic cocktail ($11) with Cazadores tequila, watermelon, basil, lemon and Aleppo pepper. It’s fruity, spicy and definitely packs a punch.

We selected a number of starters to try out including the vegan cheese platter ($16) – herb crusted nut gouda, chive almond feta, tofu blue cheese, roasted red pepper chutney, with lemon basil balm crustini. We also had to try the poutine ($10), fries topped with miso gravy, vegan cheese curds, and kale chips; and the quinoa fritters ($12), jackfruit, konjac, corn and quinoa fritters served with a turmeric aioli and pineapple salsa.

As two people who are proud omnivores and who happily indulge in meat dishes and dairy, the biggest challenge to overcome in this adventure is the expectation of flavour and texture. The cheeses, as they’re nut and tofu based, will be crumblier than dairy-based cheeses and aren’t much firmer than, say, a standard feta. The flavours are not exactly like a gouda or a blue, but they are savoury enough that if you are not doing your best to compare it to standard cheese, will provide the satisfaction of a cheese spread. We both enjoyed the red pepper chutney quite a bit but felt it overpowered the flavours of the cheeses when combined.

The quinoa fritters were certainly a hit. The blend of jackfruit, quinoa, konjac, and corn in the fritters themselves combine nicely so no one ingredient stands out more than the other. The interior is soft, slightly sweet and with a great exterior crunch, the aioli and pineapple salsa pair very well with them.  The poutine is also quite good but we found the gravy to be too salty, likely due to the miso, and the vegan cheese just didn’t have the squeak and pull that you want melted poutine cheese to have. This is where we feel we should have opted for the dairy cheese curds.

Yehuda had the Gnocchi di Casa ($16), their signature house gnocchi made with buckwheat and sweet potato, served with hemp basil pesto on a bed of arugula with a lemon wedge. I opted for the mushroom risotto ($18), Arborio rice cooked down with peas in a cashew cream sauce, served with roasted oyster mushrooms.

We both thoroughly enjoyed the entrees. It’s clear why the gnocchi is a house favourite – a great blend of flavours both in the gnocchi and in the pesto. The buckwheat makes it denser than conventional gnocchi but it stands up to the strong flavours in the pesto. The arugula and lemon give the dish brightness that cuts through the rich flavours. The mushroom risotto was also wonderful, an otherwise rather rich dish, the peas provide a much-needed vibrancy and the roasted mushrooms give great textural contrast and a smoky flavour. I borrowed the lemon from the gnocchi dish to add to the risotto which made it perfect for me.

For dessert, we had the coco-lime raw cake ($9) made with raw coconut, cashews and lime; and the crème brulee ($8), soy and cashew custard with a raw sugar crust. Both of these were definite hits. The crème brulee was velvety smooth, buttery, with the right amount of sweetness and vanilla without being overwhelming. If we didn’t know better, neither of us would be able to tell this wasn’t an egg custard. The coco-lime raw cake tasted like a sinfully rich and indulgent cheesecake only without any of the guilt. It had the bite of coconut flakes within the cake and sharpness from the lime paired wonderfully with the coconut. The cashews are blended right down so there isn’t the slightest hint of grittiness.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian visiting beautiful Montreal, then LOV is a destination dining experience that you will surely not want to miss. If you’re a meat and dairy aficionado, then LOV is a great way to try something new and exciting and you may not even miss your steak and potatoes. Go in and try your best to leave your expectations at the door, be prepared to just let your taste buds guide and be pleasantly surprised.

 

Review by Samantha Wu
Photos by Yehuda Fisher

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