I am writing this from my hometown, Newmarket Ontario, where I will be living for most of the month of August.
Long story short, my Working Holiday Visa for the United Kingdom is nearly expired, and so my time in Bristol has sadly ended (for now). After this, the plan is to head off to China with my partner, where we will be teaching English and improving our embarrassingly limited Mandarin skills.
Of course, while I’m home, I plan to visit as many vegan-friendly places as possible and just eat nonstop, basically — which is a lot easier when I can make my way up from suburban Newmarket to the city. I find the more urban I go, the less weird looks I get for asking “is there any milk in this?”.
Bristol felt a bit like a vegan paradise, and the UK seems to be a lot better at labelling and providing options than Canada. So when my friends suggested we go to District Eatery for dinner and drinks, I was 100% in. I had seen the video on a BlogTO post that exclaimed “Toronto has a new spot for Vegan Pub Grub!”, and instantly bookmarked it, vowing to make a visit when I was back in Canada.
District Eatery is located in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district on King Street West, so if you’re checking out a show at The Princess of Wales or Roy Thompson Hall, you have no excuse not to visit! (I was headed to see Fleet Foxes at Massey Hall after, hence my photos only being phone quality — no DSLR’s allowed!). It’s got a cozy but trendy vibe, with plenty of little reminders about what city you’re in — like the vintage map of Toronto that hung behind our table.
It also apparently has a pretty awesome rooftop patio, but we wouldn’t know anything about this as it was pouring rain when we were there. Bristol weather is officially following me.
I started off with a Wheat Ale from Granville Island Brewery called Sunshine Coast, which tasted pleasantly like banana bread! They also offer a bunch of lovely-sounding cocktails, but me and my wallet were in a beer-sorta-mood. For my main, I decided to order the District Bowl. I was pretty sure that’s one of the things I saw in the Blog TO video (plus, the word “District” was written in a fancy way on the menu, leading me to assume this was one of their specialties).
The District Bowl included quinoa, tempeh, roasted yam and cauliflower, red cabbage, heirloom red and yellow tomatoes, beetroot, pomegranate, sunflower and sesame seeds and a lime and jalapeno vinaigrette. Basically, this is not your boring “just ask for no chicken/feta/basically you will just be left with $8 lettuce” kind of salad.
The bowl definitely lived up to the hype, it was filling and substantial without being heavy and full of delicious flavours. The tempeh was great — I think it almost fooled my brain a bit as it had an almost meaty or even cheese-like texture and taste, which can sometimes be a bit too weird for me. In this case I thought it was really nice.
I really liked the fact that the menu was clearly labelled to show vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Other vegan offerings included a veggie burger, mushroom toasts, grilled tempeh, a summer salad, and several vegan sides such as roasted cauliflower and a roasted potato trio. The meaty and cheesy offerings definitely outweighed the vegan options. I mean, there’s an illustration of a pig on the menu — and I don’t think it was intended to be a happy pig who’s not going to be eaten. However, I am glad that there are places like this that offer vegan and non-vegan food, as some more stubborn friends and family might not be into going to an all-vegan restaurant all the time. I think it also serves to ‘normalize’ vegan food, not just present it as something extremely niche that is only served at fancy-pants organic cafes.
If you’re in Toronto, definitely give District Eatery a try — it’s a great place to have a pint and a bite with friends — vegan or not!