St. Lawrence Market take-away dishes out tasty vegan treats
CRUDA CAFE (St. Lawrence Market, lower level, 91 Front East, at Jarvis, 905-447-6501, crudacafe.com) Complete meals for $15 per person, including all taxes, tip and a juice. Average main $7. Open Tuesday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday 8 am to 5 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
Downtown’s historic St. Lawrence Market might be a great place to shop for organic veggies, but if you’re looking for a takeout nosh a bit friendlier to the planet than back bacon on a bun, pickings are slim.
Enter Claudia Gaviria, a raw food advocate with a background in marketing. Literally sensing a gap in the Market – no offence, Mustachio – she’s launched Cruda, St. Lawrence’s first “organic vegan epicurean living food café.”
Carnivores will likely dismiss Gaviria’s mostly raw card as souped-up salad, but even they’d agree it makes for some seriously conspicuous consumption. Course, first they’ll have to find the tiny take-away, which is tucked away in the northeasternmost corner of the South Market’s lower level, next to a cold, fluorescent-lit food court.
Things warm up substantially with steaming bowls of macrobiotic winter soups – a Moroccan-inspired sweet potato purée one day, an Indo cauliflower the next (all $4.50) – dressed with peppery frazzles of dehydrated kale. Salads also surprise, especially the one called Claudia’s, a mix of lemony parsnip threads, crunchy sunflower sprouts and baby plum tomatoes over arugula tossed with dates in an organic Dijon vinaigrette (all $5.50 small/$7.50 large).
Every raw resto does a version of pseudo-pasta, and Cruda’s no exception, Gaviria’s delicious spin a ravioli of paper-thin baby turnip layered with cheesy cashew pesto ($6.50 with salad). She also makes her wraps – tasty sun-dried tomato, sturdy Mexican corn – from scratch before stuffing them with smashed-to-order avocado, sprouts du jour, slivered beets and more of that fab pesto (all $7.50).
Ridiculously addictive crepes come wrapped in dehydrated banana shells scented with lavender buds and stuffed with blackberries and faux almond cheesecake ($5.50). And don’t forget to save room for a slice of raw Ecuadorean chocolate or key lime pie ($4.50).
Though Cruda has only been open two weeks, Gaviria already has plans for a second café to open later this fall “somewhere where there’s more traffic.”
Queen West or Kensington, perhaps?
“Pearson Airport,” says Gaviria. “Out there, a banana costs four bucks and it’s not even organic!”