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Eating out as a vegan with a food allergy can be a daunting task.  Unless I’m at my  favourite vegan cafes like Kindfood or Cafe Pyrus which I can’t always do, eating out usually requires preparation by checking menus online and calling ahead of time to ask if my dietary restrictions can be accommodated.  I’m not upset if a place can’t accommodate me, I know being vegan is a minority.   When restaurants do craft yummy vegan entrees (and not just offer me a boring pasta and tomato sauce), I’m really pleased.  Eating out as a vegan in a non-vegan world means keeping a positive attitude, sense of humour and a stash of almonds in my purse.

Here is a review of two dining experiences at meat-centric restaurants I’ve had lately with my family….

Montana’s Cookhouse, Milton.  The land of ribs and steak.  I should have no expectation of anything vegetarian here.  But if you haven’t heard yet, this meat-centric restaurant actually makes a very impressive vegan burger.  Possibly the tastiest veggie burger I’ve ever tried.  Certainly not the healthiest, since it contains a whopping 860 calories, 41 grams of fat and 1,800 mg of sodium.  I wish I were joking.  (No one said meatless necessarily equaled health food, right?)  If you’ve tried a yummier veggie burger anywhere, let me know in the comments!Order the burger on toasted whole wheat bread instead of a white bun to make it a smidge healthier and hold the mayo and feta and to make it vegan and slash some calories and fat.  It comes topped with sauteed peppers, onions and mushrooms and a side dish.  I chose a side salad with raspberry vinaigrette, which is one of their few vegan side options (note: their side of veggies comes smothered in garlic butter and their beans have pork).  We also ordered an appetizer of yummy sweet potato fries, with ketchup instead of the regular mayonnaise dip, and they were great.  I couldn’t verify how scrupulous they are at keeping the meat and the veggie food away from each other, but I was told their fries are cooked in vegetable oil not animal lard.

On our most recent visit we had the most amazing waitress, Michelle, who memorized our entire complicated order and gave us overall superstar service.  My veggie family and I don’t eat here on our own, but when eating with omnivore friends and family, we often choose Montana’s so that there will be something delicious for everyone.  And it’s okay to indulge once in a while, right? 😉

Classic Indian, Waterloo.  My husband and I ate at this restaurant once ten years ago and enjoyed it but hadn’t been back, having associated the place in our minds with the butter chicken we enjoyed then but wouldn’t touch now.  On the encouragement of several vegan friends who are fans of Classic Indian, we decided to try their menu again and we’re glad we did.  Our server showed us on the menu which of their dishes were vegan and we were pleased to see there were many.  For an appetizer we ordered Onion Bhajias: battered and fried onion fritters with flavourful dipping sauces.  The owner was very attentive to my alcohol allergy and brought out separate sauces for my husband and I which was great.  The Onion Bhajias were excellent!  Possibly no redeeming nutritional value, but they were absolutely delicious.
Next came the Crispy Masala Dosa: a humongous rice and lentil crepe filled with spiced potatoes and green peas, served with Muligatawny soup.  We weren’t a big fan of the peppery soup, but the crispy crepe was delicious.  We also tried the Chenna Masala: Chickpeas in a spicy onion gravy.  We ordered it with Naan (soft flat bread).  We weren’t wild about Chenna Masala dish to be honest, it was too salty for our liking and we got tired of the taste after a few bites, though it wasn’t bad.  The Naan was soft and chewy and we thought it was great enough to order another serving.
Overall, we had a pleasant dinner at Classic Indian, and will be returning at least for the delectable Onion Bhajias and Masala Dosa again!  I’ll bring your attention to the lovely sign at their front door.  Their grateful attitude was felt inside as the owner came to our table at the end of our meal to personally thank us for our business and ask how we enjoyed everything.  It was a nice touch.Montana’s is located at 230 Steeles Ave E, Milton, ON as well as several other 89 other locations across Canada.

Classic Indian is located at 150 Wissler Road, Waterloo, ON.

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