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Walking into Griffintown Cafe, you immediately take note of the high ceilings, panelled wooden floors and the spacious interior. The tables are pushed towards either side of the restaurant, leaving tons of space in between, giving the place an airy, open feel that is fabulously refreshing.
With several locations across the city, Le Commensal offers a veritable buffet of vegan and vegetarian foods both hot and cold. This was not my first time visiting the restaurant, but it has been years since I last patronized the place. My memories from my previous experiences were not rosy and sadly, my return only reconfirmed the sentiment. Hot dishes are served lukewarm as they sit in buffet style trays for an indeterminable amount of time, placed on an island in the middle of the self-serve area. There are a good variety of dishes to choose from and I appreciate the fact that there aren’t too many vegan restaurants around but unfortunately for me, this place doesn’t cut it. Taste-wise the plates I sampled were okay, verging on flavorless and unappetizing. Here, you pay for what you choose by weight. I got about three bites of the five different items I chose and it cost just over $9. I got a serving of pesto penne which was dry, tasteless and room temperature, half a black bean quesadilla and a scoop of chili on white rice which were actually pretty good and some tabouleh and chickpea salad which were both tolerable. To me, it isn’t worth the money. At most other places, vegan or not, paying the same amount or less sates the hunger in your stomach and doesn’t leave you craving for food an hour later. Places like Le Panthere Verte, Crudessence or Lola Rosa are in the surrounding area and offer much more for the same price – my suggestion is to go to one of those restaurants first.
On the upside, Le Commensal on McGill College has a beautiful view of the downtown core. When we went, the sun was shining and it was a lovely spot to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages.
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