Up until now I don’t think I have ever uttered the phrase “let’s go to a vegetarian place for dinner”. My love of meat (especially hamburgers) and chicken is well documented and my fear of fainting from hunger after eating vegetarian or vegan has often led to a second supper. Up until now there hasn’t been a vegetarian or a vegan restaurant in Montreal that has had me craving their food but since LOV opened earlier this month, that has all changed.
LOV is a new restaurant on McGill in Old Montreal that has proven to me that it is here to play in Montreal’s restaurant scene big leagues. Without fear of giving too much away to you in the second paragraph, I can say that this restaurant is one of the best that I saw open in 2016 and I think that without a doubt LOV will become one of the most talked about restaurants in the years to come. Firing on all cylinders since its VIP media opening, LOV packs an important three pronged punch that proves its not just style over substance. Yes, the decor is an etherial and almost magical creation but going deeper than the surface, the food is wonderfully robust and the service is astounding.
Creating an ambient space that it as inviting as it is photogenic, LOV almost whisks you way from the second you step foot inside the door. Calming colours of white, beige, mint-green and copper make up the restaurant’s colour scheme while large woven baskets hanging from each of the lights in the ceiling creates a feeling of being in an open air Moroccan market. Pots of fresh herbs, some of which are used in the food and cocktails, decorate the tables and bar area while solid straight lines keep the decor tightly modern. Striking a harmonious balance, the restaurant is perfectly tailored to suit a sunny afternoon lunch or an exciting 5a7. This is the first vegetarian restaurant that I’ve been in where I don’t feel like the decor was an afterthought. That’s one of the factors that makes LOV so unique.
Although this wasn’t my first time eating in a vegetarian or a vegan restaurant, this was the first time that I wished we didn’t have to use the label. The food is so good that it stands on its own without having to think about whether meat is involved or not. The food isn’t that transformed and it isn’t made to look or taste like any type of meat. Instead it is well seasoned, the dishes are inventive and there’s no way you’ll walk away hungry. We tried a total of six dishes during our visit. Starting with a delicious vegetarian poutine (the sauce is made from miso) and crispy onion rings we knew that we were in for a night of surprises. Seeing these items on the menu is one thing, ordering them and devouring them because they are so good is another.
We continued our meal with an excellent roasted beet salad and the kale mac and cheese. The beets were perfectly roasted and mix cajou cheese, cipolini, arugula, pumpkin seeds and a pastis vinaigrette. The salad was slightly sweet but not overpoweringly so while the textures blended together perfectly. The kale mac and cheese featured squash cheese and Casarecce pasta. It was wonderfully creamy. Finishing up our meal, we ordered a plate of sweet potato and sarrasin gnocchi that was blended with a delicious basil pesto, arugula and vegan parmesan. It was a simple dish but the flavours popped with each bite. Because I am a fan of burgers, I wanted to stick to my guns and try one of their veggie burgers. The Big LOV’s patty is made from black rice, black beans and almonds and like the rest of their food is wonderfully seasoned. It’s topped with fresh tomato, onion and pickles and the LOV sauce is spectacular. If it had one minor drawback, I would have to say that the bun took up too much space. It was good but there was a little too much of it. Rounding out the food I must say that the wine list (featuring vins natures) and the cocktails are both strong contenders that can go up against any other restaurant in the city.
Service in restaurants is so important and at LOV I can’t gush enough about how well we were served. Our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable about both the food and the cocktail menu. Around the restaurant I noticed that the rest of the waitstaff shared her positive energy. One of the reasons why I love being out in restaurants is the electricity that comes from chattering guests, clinking glasses and the quick movements required from waitstaff who are running from the kitchen to the dining room. At LOV this energy is omnipresent and exciting to be part of.
For more, visit lov.com
Whether you're vegan or not, let yourself be surprised by how good this food can be when it's prepared right.