As a newbie vegan, I’ve experienced numerous reactions. From co-workers lightheartedly joking around about it (sometimes I question just how lighthearted… I’m looking at you Carl), to acquaintances adding me on Instagam out of curiosity, to the overwhelming amount of support and love from friends and family. It’s definitely interesting taking on this new lifestyle while fielding questions, hearing the same-old vegan jokes and all the while trying to stay positive in this crazy-new world where people pet their dogs while eating steaks and wear the skins of animals as fashion statements.
It’s been a ride.
Something that has definitely made the ride much easier are the restaurants in Victoria that are owned and operated by vegans. I’m sure I’ve just lost a bunch of readers with how many times I’ve used the V-word, but I really don’t care. Vegan vegan vegan. There’s a warmth to these places and the people who run them that can’t be denied and a passion for plant-based foods that seems always buzzing with excitement and new opportunity.
Be Love (located at 1019 Blanshard Street) is just the type of place I’m talking about. Opened by siblings Heather and Joe Cunliffe and their dad Ayrie in 2013 – Be Love is a plant-based cuisine that serves locally sourced and organic foods. And if that wasn’t awesome enough already, they complement their food with a natural wine list, super-food cocktails, fresh juices, smoothies, and elixirs. Everything served is wheat, dairy, gluten and processed sugar-free as well, making it friendly to a wide variety of people.
I went to meet a blind-date there on Monday evening. My date is a chef in the real world and had great things to say about Be Love, having been there in the past. It was exciting going into the date knowing that I would be sharing the experience with someone who has a very obvious love of food…and someone who was ready to take on all that is me, camera in tow.
He was funny, charming and accommodating to my circus. My circus being the large digital SLR camera that was pulled out almost immediately as I strolled up to the bar where he was waiting and prepared to take shots of everything that we ate and drank. I really don’t think a lot of people would have been down, but he was, and I’m so grateful.
I ordered a buttered rum apple cider (Havana 7 year rum, Merridale winter apple cider & spiced apple cider) and we decided that we’d start off with a couple appetizers.
After a quick look at the menu, we went with the Chana Tikki which are house made masala spiced chickpea fritters accompanied by apple-goji chutney and also had to get the poutine. Because what sane person passes up a poutine??
Be Love switches up their menu seasonally and of course now are on their winter menu. We really should have taken that into consideration, though, because although everything was so tasty (Apple-goji chutney went perfect with the fritters and we loved the miso gravy and cashew cheese on the poutine!), we were full after finishing both. We started off hungry and stating that we were going to order the entire menu, but just couldn’t hack it after the appetizers. We did have just enough room for another cocktail each and cake, though.
For dessert we had the Turtle Pie – which has caramel chocolate, pecan crust, a salted cacao topping and a dollop of coconut whip cream. It was just as delicious as I imagined, but thought that there would have been more crunch to it. Maybe they could have added more topping or made a thicker crust, but it was still very tasty.
As far as the cocktails – Our favourite was the Chaga Bourbon Sour. It had a beautiful smooth taste to it that made it easy to sip on. We weren’t as big of fans of the Sage Advice or the Buttered Rum Apple Cider, though. They both seemed like a punch to the mouth – we weren’t expecting either cocktail to be as tart and sour as they were.
The only other thing that I was disappointed over was how the menu didn’t note which items are vegan and which ones aren’t. The majority of the menu is, but it’s nice to know for sure when you’re ordering and we could have saved a lot of time not having to double-check with the server each time we ordered something!
Service was excellent, absolutely no complaints as our server was warm and attentive. We also spoke with Heather who was sitting down with family and finishing a slice of the turtle pie as well! There is a great vibe to the place and I’m very much looking forward to going back to try more.
Giving Be Love or 4/5.
Edit: I’ve been informed that not ALL of the staff are vegan. Also that they serve eggs for breakfast. While that decision has been met with some criticism from the vegan community, I think that their choice to add local and *actual* free-run eggs is one that can still be respected on a certain level. I know that eggs aren’t the healthiest of staples, and am so aware of the horrors that happen at the hands of large corporations when it comes to eggs. I don’t support any of that. Honestly I look at it as: As far as I know, these eggs did come from happy chickens. Hopefully chickens that are pets and loved and not confined in any type of cage. If I find out ANY different, this entire post will come down. In the meantime, I think that the eggs they’re using are as ethically sourced as possible and maybe the positive way to look at it is that more people will come into Be Love, therefore more likely to try vegan menu items and possibly one day make the switch! I understand the disappointment in finding out that an establishment could be full-on vegan but choose not to… But if they were then there would be less chance to show people how great vegan can be. I hope that you understand my stance on this, thank you for your feedback!