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I am a lucky lady.  Last week, my hubby and I celebrated 13 years of marriage!  The milestone was the perfect excuse to indulge at a few restaurants in Toronto we had been meaning to hit for months.

Toronto is a very walkable city and it was a perfect day to be outside, so once we disembarked from our train at Union Station, we decided to walk everywhere instead of using the transit system.  We ended up walking 13.5 km that day!  But we needed to, with all the calories we indulged in!

First up, the Windsor Arms Hotel’s Prime steakhouse for lunch. Yep, a steakhouse.  Local famed vegan chef Doug McNish crafted the mouth-watering menu for the boutique hotel.

The Windsor Arms impresses from the beginning, what a gorgeous place.  We were excited to eat vegan fine dining at a fancy-pants restaurant.  Surprisingly, when we walked into Prime, the place was empty; we were the only patrons for lunch on a Tuesday.

We started with a side dish: sweet potato fries with mustard and chipotle aioli.  Wow!  Best fries I can remember eating.  Perfectly crispy, piping hot and a generous portion, way more than my husband and I could eat.  Next up: mushroom risotto.  I love a great risotto and my expectations were pretty high by this point.   Sorry to say, the risotto was a huge disappointment.  It was so bland!  Our server asked if we liked it and we replied no, but he offered nothing else.  Our entrées came next.  The quinoa stir-fry was excellent; everything was cooked to perfection, and the sauce was delicious.  They got that one right and we ate every bite!  The other entrée, the beautifully presented cornmeal-crusted tempeh, was another disappointment that left us puzzled.  The tempeh was plated with a sweet relish, puréed sweet potatoes and plain, steamed broccoli.  (Is there a side dish in the world more boring than plain, steamed broccoli?)

We left Prime feeling conflicted.  Two of the dishes were excellent and two we didn’t care for at all.  In all fairness, we had mentioned my allergy to alcohol, so it could be that the risotto and tempeh dishes are normally served with alcohol-based sauces that add more flavour, but if that was the case, why not substitute our dishes with olive oil or anything else to impart some taste at all?  All that pomp and flash for a mediocre dining experience.  We are glad we went, but don’t feel it would be worth returning to.

(Has anyone else been to Prime?  How was your experience?)

Feeling less than satisfied with lunch was the perfect excuse to go out for ice cream for dessert!  I had experienced the quaint Hibiscus vegetarian cafe on my last visit to Toronto and remembered their lovely home-made vegan ice cream.  We set off from Yorkville to Kensington Market.

Unlike Prime, Hibiscus was packed with customers.  We ordered two scoops of vegan ice cream to go: chocolate brownie and coconut mango.  They were rich with an excellent flavour, which you don’t always get with vegan ice cream.   Yum!  We appreciated the quick service and reasonable prices.  We would like to go back to try more of their vegan eats like salad bowls and buckwheat crepes.

Stay tuned for part two…. we saved the best for dinner!

Prime at The Windsor Arms is located at 18 Saint Thomas Street, Toronto, ON.

Hibiscus is located at 238 Augusta Avenue  Toronto, ON.

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