Friday, April 27th, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Vegetarian Brunch: The Clever Rabbit

As an omnivore, I will admit that dining at vegetarian and vegan restaurants is partly to satisfy my curiosity. This isn’t to say I’m the kind of person that needs to have meat with every meal – it’s quite the opposite actually, as Mack and I have been actively expanding our non-meat repertoire at home. But in many ways, in order for vegetarian and vegan restaurants not to be pigeonholed into a subcategory of “alternative” or “unconventional” choice for the mainstream population that does eat meat, the food just has to be tasty. And I’m always game to see firsthand if that’s the case.

In Edmonton, Padmanadi, Café Mosaics and Noorish are among the most popular vegetarian establishments, and as I have experienced them, I really didn’t miss the meat. I was hoping to have a similar meal at The Clever Rabbit, a vegetarian/vegan eatery that opened in March in the burgeoning High Street area.

Amanda was back in town last week, so she, Felicia and I decided to meet up for brunch at the restaurant on Sunday. When I had called about reservations (and was told they don’t take them), they warned that they are usually fairly busy in the early afternoon hours. When I arrived just before noon, I was a bit relieved to find that there were only two other parties in the dining room.

The Clever Rabbit

There were different rabbit-shaped salt and pepper shakers on each table – too cute!

The baking case was tempting, and I considered ordering a doughnut while I waited for my sisters to arrive. But it didn’t make sense to spoil my meal, so I held off. I did order a coffee to sip while waiting, and was a little surprised when it arrived not in a mug, but in a disposable cup. Perhaps many of their patrons ask to take their remaining coffee with them after their meals?

The Clever Rabbit

Baking case

Perusing the menu, it is made up of just three breakfast items and six lunch options – for a small establishment, I think it is great for them to focus on doing a few dishes well. I decided to order the vegan egg and tofu biscuits ($9), while my sisters opted for lunch plates, which each came with a side. Felicia chose the Seitan vegan donair ($12) while Amanda selected the walnut chickpea burger($12).

Service was good – besides an initial blip when our server disappeared when we were ready to order, she was by a few times to refill our coffee and check in on us. Our food also arrived in a reasonable amount of time.

It was easy to see that the kitchen did their best to garnish my mostly empty plate, but the focus was on the biscuit sandwiches. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy them. The vegan egg was the best part, fried up crispy on the outside, but soft and loose on the inside, but its accompaniments overshadowed it. The tofu was hard and chewy, and paired with the dry biscuits, made me long for some sort of sauce or soy cheese to add flavour and moisture.

The Clever Rabbit

Vegan egg and tofu biscuits

Amanda also thought her burger could have used some sort of ketchup or other liquid garnish, though as a whole, she enjoyed her dish. She especially liked the fresh salsa side, which really was large enough to share.

The Clever Rabbit

Walnut chickpea burger

This was Felicia’s first encounter with Seitan, also known as wheat gluten, a simulated meat product. She wasn’t a fan of the taste of the Seitan, though I didn’t mind it as much (it tasted somewhat like tofu to me). Her side of green salad was also quite generous, and was rife with avocado, tomato and dried cranberries.

The Clever Rabbit

Seitan vegan donair

Based on our meal, I’m not sure I’d be rushing back to The Clever Rabbit for breakfast, but I’d be willing to come back to give their lunch menu a try.

The Clever Rabbit
10722 124 Street
(780) 455-4550
Tuesday-Sunday 9am-4:30pm, closed Mondays

  • Jillturner

    Hi Sharon,

    thanks for posting this review.  We popped in last weekend just to take a peek but didn’t eat.  We are looking forward to eating there soon.  I agree, the biscuits definitely look like they need some vegan gravy or something and did your sister ask for ketchup for her burger?  It does look rather dry.  Was there mustard or vegan mayo or anything for it?

    thanks
    Jill

  • Annie

    Hi. The biscuits look really dry…though I think the idea is pretty good…I mean, those look like biscuits I’d make! hehe. Looking forward to your post re: Shanghai 456 ;) mmmm, rice cake!

  • http://www.onlyhereforthefood.ca/ Sharon

    Hi Jill,

    No, the burger didn’t come with any sauce accompaniments, and now that you mention it, she didn’t even think to ask! It’s possible they had something available in the kitchen that had to be requested.

    I’d say it is worth a try, but some of the dishes still need some tweaking. Happy eating!

  • http://www.onlyhereforthefood.ca/ Sharon

    Yes, the idea is definitely good (though I really would have loved some cheese on it!). I probably won’t write a post, but will upload pictures of those xiaolongbao…yum…

  • Ellen Dam

    Hey Sharon,

    Long time, so see! Great that you visited Clever Rabbit. D and I had a similar experience a while back–cold, bland-ish food that looked good on the plate, but tasted vastly different than expected. Also surprised us with the paper cups too. Although the Oreo sandwich cookie was good in texture, it also was a bit bland. Not sure if we’ll be in a rush to go back, but I love the bright and sunny space and the decor. When we went it was packed, so I’m glad vegetarian/vegan restaurants are gathering crowds! The sisters are nice and the staff friendly. Perhaps they’ll perfect their dishes soon. 

    Hope to see you soon!

  • http://www.onlyhereforthefood.ca/ Sharon

    It would have been great to run into you and D at the restaurant! Yeah, it is still a fairly new place, so hopefully they tighten up the menu in the next few months.

    Come out to Truck Stop some time! You guys could walk over! :)