I feel uncomfortable publishing this post. I know after reading about my Saturday adventure you’ll all say nice things like, “oh, wish I could have been there” and secretly think “why her and not me”. I’m sorry. If you come over I promise to share the date bar…read more for details.
After being back in Toronto for a week I was already itching to get out of town. Luckily, spring is in the air and people are starting to emerge from hibernation. Another blogger meet-up was planned by the vibrant, Angela. She invited us all to head west to Waterloo, to experience her favourite new restaurant, Thrive Juice Bar.
It was wonderful to walk through the door and see that the restaurant was, well…thriving. There were enthusiastic eaters everywhere. We waited a few minutes while the staff tried to accommodate our group in their cozy space. After a little table Tetris, we all sat down to look over the amazing menu. Before we could order snacks samples started to arrive.
Some crisp flax-sesame crackers to stave-off our hunger (we did drive for over an hour!).
Marinated olives to munch on while we all caught up with each other’s recent adventures. If we are a representative sample then bloggers are a pretty motivated, productive, driven, curious bunch.
The next sweet surprise to hit our table was delivered by Dani. She hauled a box of amazing snacks on the subway to treat us all with…Sweets from the Earth, one of my very favourite Toronto companies!
The box was full of: cookies (chocolate, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and cashew), chocolate cheesecake, peppermint nanaimo bars, carrot cake, chocolate cake, date bars, chocolate caramel chews, and almond bars.
Rivi’s also provided cookies and bars for everyone’s enjoyment (they weren’t vegan so I stuck with the other sweets). We all filled a goodie bag to take home. Don’t you just love parties with goodie bags.
In Toronto (and Waterloo it seems), Sweets from the Earth supplies amazing vegan desserts for many restaurants and coffee shops. You can purchase their products in most grocery stores in Toronto. As a added bonus they have many gluten-free offerings and a dedicated gluten-free production line.
The very best thing about Sweets from the Earth is they make treats that truly convince the skeptics that vegan desserts are decadent and delicious. Each cookie is an ambassador for a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Checkout the paparazzi trying to capture all that goodness.
Just when I was starting to feel overwhelmed with gratitude, a satisfying sample of the Sangria Smoothie (orange, lemon, lime, pineapple, agave, pomegranate, blueberry an berry gelato) arrived. The drink menu at Thrive is as extensive as the food offerings. The smoothies was wonderfully sweet and refreshing.
Right on cue, as soon as there was a bare spot in front of me, another surprise arrived. Angela gave us each a sample of her favourite granola. She certainly knows the way to my heart.
When I finally took the time to review the menu, I was really impressed by all the options. The whole menu is completely vegan, there are lots of gluten-free offerings and everything sounded enticing. The categories were the standard: small plates, soup, pizzas, sandwiches, big plates, but the investment in quality ingredients blew me away. The descriptions of each dish clearly focused on whole-foods, nourishing ingredients and unique combinations of flavours and textures.
I orded the raw Pad Thai. Every bite was an experience. The rich cashew dressing paired well with the bright flavours of mint, basil, cilantro, bok choy and green papaya. The spicy nuts added a fantastic hint of heat as I devoured the bowl.
When I go out to eat, I have pretty high expectations. I don’t like to feel that I could have made a way better meal at home. At Thrive, I was completely impressed by every plate that graced our table.
For dessert, Jonnie (Thrive‘s owner) sliced up our Sweets from the Earth chocolate cheesecake and plated it with a scoop of coconut gelato. Now that’s pretty incredible customer service! I was too full of Pad Thai for a slice but from past experience I know that cheesecake is fantastic – gloriously rich and creamy.
Stephanie is on an elimination diet which includes avoiding gluten, so without a word, Jonnie prepared a Sweets from the Earth peppermint nanaimo bar and chocolate gelato for her. By this point we were all ready to move in. I really wish that Thrive was around the corner not an hour’s drive. But I definitely plan to make the trip again. In the summer there is an outdoor eating area that I really hope lounge in.
After our amazing meal, Jonnie provided a cup of warm ginger lime tea for the trip back to the city.
It was an unforgettable afternoon with an inspiring group of women! If you live in the area I strongly suggest you plan a visit soon.
Thank you Angela, Danielle, Stephanie, Sarah (Extra thanks for driving the downtown contingent!), Therese, and Morgan for making me feel at home in a cafe, far from my house.
Thank you to Jonnie and the Thrive Juice Bar Team, you reminded me of what it feels like to be in the presence of people living their passion.
Thank you to Ilana for all the incredible vegan desserts. I will share them far and wide as I continue my vegan culinary crusade!
Thank you to all of you who read this whole post – I promise the rest of this week I’ll have recipes and tips to share with you. Any requests?