Vegfest Guelph is wonderful annual festival of all things vegetarian and vegan, in the beautiful Goldie Mill ruins just north of downtown Guelph. When I attended this past September, I discovered Cadence, a newly opened vegetarian restaurant, which took over the lovely space on Yarmouth Street when Magnolia Cafe departed.
Cadence had a few options at Vegfest like the delicious biscuits with pickles and sharp homemade cheddar, and spicy nachos. The next week I took my family there for a full meal and it was absolutely wonderful. I knew it would be great place for a future shared meal with the group I run, the KW Vegan Meetup, and last week 15 of us enjoyed a delicious dinner there. The restaurant advertises itself as “vegetarian – vegan”, which means (as told to me by staff) that all items on their menu are vegan, but they have cow’s milk to offer those who wish it in their beverages.
When the KW Vegan Meetup ate there, the owner Sheri very kindly greeted us with free “welcome” appetizers of mini cheeseballs on cucumber and they were delicious. How thoughtful!
Here are my favourite items from my two visits to Cadence:
Zucchini and Chickpea Fritters – These were a lovely appetizer, with a tangy herbed sour cream. There is lots of dill in it, and I like dill so I liked these fritters. Note: the printed menus say Zucchini and Chickpea Fritters and the online menu says Zucchini and Scallion fritters.
Pan-seared Tofu with Peanut Sauce – I love it when restaurants get the right mix between healthy and delicious in one dish. It’s easy to pile on the oil, sugar and salt and make something taste really yummy, and it’s easy to serve plain uber-healthy vegetables and grains, but it takes talent to combine them both to make a truly satisfying meal, and that’s where this dish gets it all right. Crisp but not fried tofu, with perfectly-cooked brown rice and kale, with a super delicious peanut sauce. I will definitely order this again.
Sharp Cheddar and Pickle Grilled Cheese – I LOVE grilled cheese, and this was probably the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. The thick-sliced bread (freshly baked at their sister business With the Grain Bakery) was crisp and buttery. The sharp cheddar (homemade, cashew-based) paired superbly with the pickles and house made ketchup (not too sweet)…in all it was pretty much the perfect grilled cheese.
Tempeh and Mushroom Burger – I thought the burger was quite good though, though it’s a challenge to eat because it’s very soft so it doesn’t stay together when you bite into it. But if you don’t mind the texture (and the $17 price) it’s very yummy. Carrots and mint are served on the side.
Chickpea Omelette – A giant fluffy, savoury pancake stuffed with veggies was a hit, especially with the members of my family who love all vegan foods that can mimic the taste and texture of eggs. I thought the creamy dill sour cream took the dish from good to great, though the side salad (lots of bitter greens) was just okay.
Not everything I tried at Cadence I thought was amazing though, and while nothing was terrible, I wouldn’t go back for the Avocado with Roasted Garlic Tofu Mayo sandwich or the Creamy Pasta which were both too bland for my tastes. I’ll also pass on the tomato soup which was too spicy for me (but if you love black pepper it could be the soup for you). Next time I eat at Cadence, I’ll be sticking with the peanut tofu and grilled cheese, or trying a new menu item.
The Chocolate Almond Cereal Bar and Chocolate Chunk Cookie were terrific, but Cadence’s masterpiece is the Blackout Chocolate Cake. I had read about how good the cake was from friends’ reports on Facebook, so my expectations were really high, and I’m happy to report that the cake really is as good as I hoped it would be, and better. There are layers of fluffy chocolate cake with superb not-too-sweet chocolate icing and extra chocolate crumbs on top. When the KW Vegan Meetup group ate there last week, we all tried the cake and all loved it. It’s pretty much the perfect cake.
If you’re in southwestern Ontario and want to get together with other vegans and those interested in becoming vegan, find the KW Vegan Meetup on facebook here. Our next meetup is a vegan Christmas party in Waterloo!
Cadence is located is at 88 Yarmouth Street in Guelph, Ontario.