PRIME (18 St. Thomas, at Bloor West, 416-971-9666, windsorarmshotel.com/prime) $25 lunch daily 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, $45 dinner nightly 5 to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier-free.
Vegetarians get short shrift come Winterlicious, vegans even more so.
Sure, there's always some token salad or plain white pasta with grilled vegetables to keep the herbivores happy. But until consulting executive chef Doug McNish created the first all-vegan 'Licious lineup ($25 lunch/$45 dinner) for Prime in the Windsor Arms Hotel, those who don't do dairy or meat were literally left out in the cold.
While the pricey steak house's A-list clientele dig into eggy Waldorf salads, vegans can chow down on what McNish calls his "winter-kill salad." Picture a heap of raw local organic kale slaw tossed with crunchy walnuts, sweet raisins, salty sun-dried tomatoes and protein-rich hemp seeds in a creamy lemon dressing intensified with tahini and avocado. Instead of aged 10-ounce grilled New York strip loins sided with lethal pommes purée, McNish counters with cornmeal-crusted tempeh steaks sided with sweet potato mash, steamed greens and cherry tomato relish, a slice of raw raspberry-cashew cheesecake for dessert.
Isn't the former Urban Herbivore and Live Organic chef worried he's scaring off his target market? Most vegans I know balk at paying $15 for dinner, let alone $45.
"You're not only paying for the food - you're paying for the luxury of eating in the Windsor Arms. It's not Annapurna," says McNish, who has a raw vegan cookbook coming out this spring. "You get high-end service in a beautiful room, you get to listen to Frank Sinatra and you get to eat your kale salad sitting at a table next to Brad Pitt's."