Senator Restaurant Toronto
When you eat vegan food, diners can be hit or miss.
Most often, a complete miss.
And yet, I have a strange fascination with them.
Perhaps it’s because the 50s style diner is not particularly prevalent in Australia. Perhaps it’s because I spent too much time watching the Winchester brothers in the popular Supernatural TV show dine at them during their travels.
In any event, we have been to numerous diners across Canada and America.
Waffle House I cannot recommend to anyone. If you’re vegan, there’s a house salad where you get some limp lettuce, some shreds of carrot and if you’re lucky, a solitary tomato wedge. If you’re a meat eater, you have an array of foods that are so loaded with grease it looks like you’ll have a heart attack on the spot.
In comparison, The Famous at Niagara Falls is a hit. Greasy food balanced with vegan and veggie options, and great service.
I’m pleased to report that the oldest restaurant in Toronto, The Senator Restaurant, is a hit.
The Senator first opened its doors as the Busy Bee in 1929. It’s now in its 85th year of continuous operation, with the same family involved in its operation for the past 30 years now.
While diner food is the food of North Nomad’s people, I pre-warn them that I can be trickier with my vegan diet. Our waitress, Shannon, tells us on our visit that the kitchen is going to make a couple of modifications to their usual Veggie Surprise dish to make it vegan-friendly.
North Nomad is in a world of culinary heaven with this menu. Many of his usual favourites make an appearance: Caesar salad, grilled cheese, Kobe beef chilli-cheese dogs, Mac n Cheese, and Beef Burgers. He settles on the Fish and Chips for lunch.
If you’re a vegetarian, there’s Greek Salad and the Veggie Surprise. The Veggie Surprise is a daily selection of seasonal market greens, vegetables, and grains, with optional nuts and seeds. I’m getting the veganized version of this dish.
Our meals arrive promptly after we order. The Fish and Chips is so piping hot that North Nomad has to wait to let it cool down to eat.
When he cuts into the fish, it has that nice crunch of crispy batter, with perfectly cooked fish underneath. It comes with a generous heaping of fries, home-made tartare sauce, and wedges of lemons. He reports that it’s delicious.
My Veggie Surprise arrives, and it’s enormous – enough to feed two vegans. It’s a large plate with a base of mixed greens, tomato and cucumber slices, and green beans. On top of this salad beds sits little bowls of potato salad, bean salad, picked cabbage coleslaw, guacamole, and pita bread.
Each of the individual small salads is tasty. It’s nice having a dairy free potato salad option. I like the butteriness of the bean salad, and the tart taste of the cabbage coleslaw.
The salad underneath is not dressed, which would be a nice touch. In absence of dressing, I steal a lemon wedge from North Nomad, and squeeze it over the salad bed, and add some salt and pepper.
Being one not to waste food, I finish off most of it – just leaving the guacamole as I have an aversion to avocado.
So what distinguishes the Senator from any other diner? The ingredients are sourced locally where possible – a great example being the beef burgers using a third generation Toronto butcher on Church Street. The staff are also friendly and super efficient.
The Senator is also in a fantastic location, right near Yonge and Dundas Square, being in prime position for meals post the theatre, shopping, bars, or the cinema.
Location: 249 Victoria Street Toronto, ON – M5B 1V8
Opening times: Monday to Friday – 7:30am to 9:00pm Saturday – 8:00am to 2:30pm & 4:30pm to 9:00pm Sunday – 8:00am to 2:30pm
Contact Details: (416) 364-7517.
Cost: Fish and Chips $13.95 Veggie Surprise $12.50, 2 Coke & Diet Coke $10. The Nomads were given a discount, and paid $17.15 for this meal.
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.