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Tuesday 24 January 2012

Noorish Conscious Eatery and Superfood Elixir Bar Edmonton, AB - tasty vegan and raw foods but with a side of slow service

Food 7.5/10, Service 7/10
Intrigued by the hype and "super food" - vegetables dressed in blue tights leaping over tall buildings with an S emblazoned on it flashes through my brain heehee! We head over to Noorish. Despite being told there were no tables when we called in earlier on a snowy weekend, there were a few available tables left for the walk in crowd - us included! The scent of curry and greenery greets us as we entered and promptly seated at some wood counters just off to the side of the main dining area. Warm wood tables and seating, couches, lanterns along with a live band was quietly playing added to the zen like feel (with yoga classes in the basement). The friendly, informative though slow service threatened at times to shatter the zen atmosphere.

Nice little decor touches like wheat grass pots and spider plants that landscape the space and give it spots of color.

After perusing the menu - which initially seemed extensive until we realised most of the menu was devoted to defining and explaining what and why each ingredient used was good for you (yes, that's what super food is - healthy food). Rather than try to pronounce and read through most of the botanical terms, we ordered a Citrus swirl elixir which turned out to be essentially a smoothie full of healthy stuff that tasted like a melted orange creamsicle. Mmmm. Now if all foods that are healthy can taste like an orange creamsicle!
Whoops, forgot to take off the paper!

After a bit of a wait, the next up was the special of the night, a Zucchini hummus. Roasted zucchini added in a nice sweetness to a smooth paste of chickpeas, seasoned with a smash of salt, and what tasted like olive juices and cumin. It was super tasty with the crisp pressed sunflower/chickpea seed chips it was served with. 

We preferred the plain chips (light yellow) over the sun dried tomato flavored ones (slight red ochre) as the chips added in a subtle sweetness that balanced out the salt in the hummus. Mmmm!
Sundried tomato flavored ont he left, plain chickpea wafers on right

We sipped and chatted for close to 45min before our entrees came out with apologies from our waitress for the wait. I had ordered the Kassamwich mainly because it said it was made with something called "live bread". Turns out it was more of a open faced sandwich on the same pressed sunflower seed chip-wafers the hummus was served on. Spread with a layer of bright green creamy walnut basil pesto, it was topped with a thick slice of tomato, a few slices of ripe avocado (only one of my kassamwiches had the avocado), and nearly drowned in a sweet and slightly tangy tahini ginger dressing with a few sprigs of pea shoots as a garnish.  Though refreshing with the flavors working together - nutty, tangy, creamy... the kassamwich was difficult to manoeuvre without having it fall apart, and cutting it with a knife and fork just made a mess of things as the "living bread" was too thick and hard to cut through.  I went with a side of red kidney bean soup rather than any of their other salads, and the curried soup was thick, stick to your ribs, rich with beaniness and garam masala.

Next up was my boyfriend's entree called the Bodhi tree burger. Had we known Noorish relied so much on the sprouted wafers, we could have chose something else, as instead of a bun, this beet based burger was placed on... yup, a piece of the sprouted crisp wafer (maybe they ran out of buns?). The Bodhi burger differed from my Kassamwich by virtue of a bit of melted vegan cheese, and  the overly sweet beet based burger with the same dressing (no sign of the advertised herbed cashew cream) eventually soaked the previously crisp wafer.  He definitely preferred the beet veggie burger at Culina.  After my boyfriend eventually finished his soggy veggie burger, the dish was salvaged by a tasty side of Laughing Budhha belly bowl quinoa salad. The nuttiness of the quinoa (an ancient grain that's super high in protein) worked well with small diced sweet peppers, onions, basil, marinated cranberries, chopped almonds, green onions and laced with just a trace of curry.

Nearly stuffed to our gills, we made an effort to have dessert. Unfortunately, after waiting 15min to get our hands on the dessert menu, we weren't able to place an order for their reportedly amazing vegan coconut kiwi key lime pie, as we could not for the life of us flag down our waitress. Poor placement of traffic flow enabled guests waiting for their seats to neatly screened us, as well as anyone sitting at the counter. We weren't the only ones having difficulty, as we noted at least 3 tables in the regular seating area where flagging down a waitress even for the bill took closer to 30min. We eventually gave up waiting for the waitress to come to take our money after we overheard another table grumbling they waited over 30min and their waitress still hasn't returned to take their credit card (they already have their bill!) - and headed to the till instead.

Though the food is tasty and there is a bit of variety - a feat considering all their items are raw or vegan - the propensity of the kitchen to overuse ingredients in several of their dishes (same dressing used on both entrees, same sprouted wafers used for hummus and both entrees, while the hummus, quinoa, and soup were all flavored: curry) unfortunately led to a tired palate with all the sameness. They do sell bags of the sunflower seed chips/wafers in the mini store they have at the back of the restaurant, but after having 3 dishes with the wafers, we decided not to purchase them mainly because our tastebuds got over the novelty after the second dish. Hopefully in time, the kitchen can come up with more variety, and the management can iron out the inefficiencies. Though the owner mingled with guests, he seemed oblivious to the very little table turnover combined with guests waiting for 20min+ while 3 empty clean tables sat empty (which the same waiting guests were eventually seated at). A zen-like atmosphere is one thing, but if you don't mind spending 3+hours to have a smoothie, an appetiser and an entree, you've been warned!

Noorish Conscious Eatery and Superfood Elixir Bar
8440- 109th Street, Edmonton, AB T6G-1E2
Phone 780-756-6880
Hours Closed Mon, Tue-Thur 11am-10pm, Fri 11am-11pm, Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm
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KimHo said...

I was actually there late last year and, contrary to a lot of reports, I wasn't really impressed with the food. Similar to you, service was extremely slow and, after a couple of spoonfuls, eating the food itself started to be a chore, as there weren't much in term of contrasting flavours. Furthermore, or probably because of the lack of meats, it didn't satisfy me (I ordered the Laughing Buddha Belly Bowl) - afterwards, I ended up swinging by the McD's across the street (and won't feel guilty for saying it!).

What I certainly don't understand is how the food takes that long to come out. Afterall, they aren't really *cooking* the same way you would cook, say, chicken or fish. Instead, it is a matter of assembling... Regardless, if I was in vegetarian mood, I think I would rather go to a Middle Eastern place and order something on the lines of a falafel plate. Granted, by no means it is "healthy" (really? Fried and lots of fatty sauces???) but at least I can say there wasn't any meat! :P

Anonymous said...

Yah...kinda hard to eat healthy when you're starring at McDonalds across the street! LOL

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