Away Kitchen + Cafe’s new location on Queen West, just a few steps east of the corner of Bathurst, serves up an eclectic and surprisingly innovative menu of delicious plant-based options along the busy downtown strip. The bright interior features clean hardwood lines, gorgeous glassware and a gleaming new La Marzocco espresso machine perched behind the bar. It’s the perfect spot for the creative office and agency crowd looking to re-up their caffeine intake after a healthy lunch.
Owner and vegan, Roger Yang’s first restaurant Awai is a high-end take on vegan food featuring a tasting menu meant to appeal to more adventurous foodies. Away Kitchen is a bit more relaxed, designed for the casual, every day diner. He told me Away Kitchen is for everyone interested in healthy, seasonal cuisine.
We start off with the garlic knots, a crunchy snack served with a pair of dips and a great share item with friends or coworkers. As a non vegan, I’m immediately impressed by the richness of the bread and the buttery taste. Our second starter is a fondue made with cashew, hemp and a white wine reduction. It’s a rich and delicious share plate, served with raw veggies and sweet sliced grapes for your dipping pleasure.
For mains, we double up on the pie and have a pot pie and a pizza pie. The mushroom pot pie comes adorned with a thick gravy of mushroom and tamari. It is a satisfyingly hearty winter plate, reminiscent of a country kitchen and filling enough to ward off the cold.
The pizza is a complete shock, not quite like anything I’ve tasted, and it is definitely the highlight of the meal. In the centre of a bubbling, perfectly fired crust is a combination of sweet, caramelized pineapple and meaty jackfruit on a subtle, but smokey sauce that is closer to a grill or barbecue glaze than a marinara or pommodoro.
The pie is so tasty that I help myself to a second slice, before it sinks in that I’m eating a vegan take on what used to be considered a cheese-based dish. I hadn’t even noticed. The pizza is fantastic and delivers on owner Roger Yang’s boast that their kitchen can hold its own with any pizza in Toronto. Vegan or not, it doesn’t matter when Away’s team is putting out food this delicious.
Away Kitchen on Queen is located at 536 Queen Street West, just east of Bathurst Street.
Visit their website for more information.