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Hello and happy spring! I took a short hiatus from blogging this winter to travel and focus on work and family; it’s nice to be back. I will have some new recipes for you soon.

I had a bit of a panic when my very favourite restaurant, Kindfood, announced in late 2013 that they were closing temporarily to renovate, re-brand as Lettuce Love Café and change their menu. I’ve tried so many veggie restaurants and very few have come close to the quality, taste and love-filled energy of the family-run Kindfood (see my review here).

Lettuce Love collage Earthgiven KitchenTo my delight, Lettuce Love maintains the same location and owners (Kelly and Erinn and Mike, the manger, whose specialty is customer service and infectious enthusiasm). The menu is still entirely vegan and gluten-free, focusing on healthy, locally-sourced, fair trade, and organic. I visited Lettuce Love twice recently and my fears were put to rest: it’s the same wonderful place it always was, just with prettier walls and some exciting new additions to the menu. And thank heavens they kept the California Burger on the menu!

We visited Lettuce Love in February to try their new Sunday Brunch. Here is what we enjoyed:

Lettuce Love and Kellys February and March 20141Almond Banana French Toast served with tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, fresh orange slices and maple syrup. We loved it! Especially the kids.

The California Burger: marinated Nobel Bean tempeh burger with avocado, vegan bacon, Daiya cheese, lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo on toasted quinoa maple bread. This has been our favourite menu item there for years and our favourite burger EVER. I don’t want to be too dramatic here but I think this could be the world’s best veggie burger. My friends and I have tried to recreate it at home and just can’t…. I don’t know how they make a veggie burger this yummy but I think the secret is the marinade… I hope to one day figure it out, but in the meantime, I continue to be dazzled by the California Burger at each visit.

Caesar Salad: Possibly the best Caesar salad I’ve ever had in a restaurant. The dressing is tasty without being overpoweringly garlicky like many other dressings and the quinoa croutons and Brazil nut parmesan add a great crunch. The burgers are a bit too thick (and messy) for little mouths so we get the Caesar salad for the kids and they eat it right up.

The BLAT: Vegan Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato with mayo. Simple, fresh and delicious!

I returned to Lettuce Love late March with friends including Kimmy from Rock My Vegan Socks, who was visiting from California and new friend Suzanne from Hello Veggy. Kimmy and Suzanne host the weekly Healthy Vegan Fridays recipe link-up.

Suzanne Sarina JW and Kimmy at Kelly'sHere’s what we enjoyed:

Lettuce Love and Kellys February and March 20142Green Smoothies: This blend of kale, spinach, banana, orange and apple are lovely and not-to-sweet; great for kids.

Broccoli Dahl: Lentils, veggies and some terrific spices made for an exquisite starter. Too bad it was their soup of the day and not on their everyday menu as it was FABULOUS.

Goddess Bowl: Organic brown rice, tamari & olive oil, shredded carrots & beets, braised kale, marinated baked tofu, with a cashew ginger sauce and sesame seeds. We all thought this was delicious, the sauce was superb.

Power Bowl: Organic steamed quinoa, braised kale, grilled sweet potato, black beans, grilled portobello mushroom, avocado, Brazil nut parmesan, with a delicious lemon tahini sauce. We all liked this one too, but I have a preference for the Goddess Bowl (I’m a big fan of cashew and ginger together).

After our meals at Lettuce Love, we headed to Kelly’s Bake Shoppe, just a few blocks away, for dessert. (See my first review here). Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is another gluten-free & vegan venture from the owners of Lettuce Love.

Kelly's Bake Shoppe collage Sarina JWWhen you step inside you will find yourself in the prettiest bake shop you could imagine. Their daily offerings include cupcakes, cookies, and cake ball truffles. If you go on a weekend, you’ll find an even bigger selection of treats. When we went on a Sunday afternoon, the counters were full of donuts, scones, brownies, banana bread, rice crispy treats, ice cream sandwiches, plus a greater variety of cookies and cupcakes than you’ll find on a weekday.

Since I’ve been several times now and have gotten to try most of their treats, here are my very favourite Kelly’s Bake Shoppe selections: Cupcakes (Hostess, Black & White, Cookies & Crème and Coffee Break (with miniature donuts on top) are my favourite favours), World Peace Cookie, cinnamon donuts, soft serve ice cream with assorted toppings (summer only), and chocolate cake ball truffles.

Kelly's Bake Shoppe cupcakes (3)Want to be sure your favourite selection will be offered the day you go? Check the online Daily Bakery Menu on their website.

I give Lettuce Love Cafe and Kelly’s Bake Shoppe my highest recommendation.  Since they boast top rankings on Trip Advisor and local Reader’s Choice Awards, I know I’m not alone!

Lettuce Love Cafe is at 399 John Street, Burlington, ON.
Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is at 401 Brant Street, Burlington, ON.