Noorish Conscious Eatery & Superfood Elixir Bar. What a mouthful.
Despite its complicated name, Noorish's philosphy is quite the opposite. A "conscious" eatery, superfood elixir bar, teaching kitchen, retail store, and a yoga/meditation studio all rolled into one, Noorish aims to noorish the mind, body, and soul.
Eat well to live well? Sounds simple to me.
Located in the Garneau neighbourhood on 109th street, Noorish stands ironically across from a McDonalds. Though chicken nuggets and McDonald's french fries can be tempting, Noorish caters to an entirely different demographic, offering a menu that is entirely local and organic, with a variety of raw, vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten-free options. What I appreciated about the menu is that despite being meat-free, it had more than just your average, mundane salads. Though you can certainly order a salad if you'd like, they also have more approachable comfort food (dishes with substance!) such as mac & cheese, burgers, and poutine.
I met up with MH at Noorish for an impromptu catch-up session as it had been months since our last meeting. Since MH was recently thinking of transitioning to a vegan diet, she helped me out immensely by narrowing down the number of restaurants we could choose from. Noorish came highly recommended to me, so it was a no-brainer to finally try it out.
We walked into the space minutes before the lunchtime rush, and were led to the prettiest table in the entire restaurant, complete with its own mini gourd. (I felt special.) Definite Morrocan vibes with the decor, which was warm and inviting.
We placed our order with our waitress, who was kind and polite during our entire experience. Her voice was quite soothing, almost zen-like. She could have been a yoga instructor from downstairs for all I knew.
The food was a little slow to come out, but if you're with good company, not in any rush, and not #hangry, it shouldn't be a problem at all.
MH revealed that she actually dreamt about me the night before in anticipation of our hang-out at Noorish. (I have that effect on people ¬‿¬). In her dream, she was eating a dish with sweet potatoes, so MH decided to have a quasi-deja vu moment and ordered the sattva bowl ($16.00). The sattva bowl came in a huge portion, with wilted kale, ruby kraut, roasted yam, and quinoa with lemon-hemp gravy. The bowl almost seemed never-ending with ingredients. I didn't try any, but MH liked the dish, and felt guilty when she wasn't able to finish the whole bowl. Who knew you didn't need meat to feel full?
A number of menu items had caught my eye, but I eventually decided on the bodhi burger ($18.00), which was a sprouted chickpea patty, topped with tomato, red onion, avocado, and fresh sprouts, stuffed between a whole wheat bun slathered with spinach pesto and cashew herbed cream on either side. I'm guessing the dish can also be made gluten-free with a simple substitution of the whole wheat bread, since the waitress asked me if I was okay with the regular bun. In fact, they're pretty good with accommodating allergies as I overheard a customer discussing their ingredient sensitivities with the waitress.
Back to the burger, the chickpea patty was quite reminiscent of falafel. Same flavour profile, with a crisp exterior and a crumbly interior that actually help up pretty well. The cashew herbed cream was flavoured with dill, and despite not being a fan of dill, I couldn't taste much of it when all of the ingredients were sandwiched together. Although it was a bit messy to eat, I was quite happy with my choice.
With any of the burgers, which there are two to choose from, you also have a choice of side. The waitress informed me that I could choose any of the salads under their salad menu, or the soup of the day which was some type of butternut squash and tomato concoction. I decided to go for the miso lemon kale salad (normally $8.00 for starter/$16.00 for main) which had curly kale, tomato, and avocado with a lemon-miso hemp dressing. The dressing was nice and citrusy, helping to offset the bitterness of the kale. A refreshing side in between bites of the burger.
Normally I'm a skeptic when it comes to vegetarian/vegan (dare I say hippie?) restaurants, but I walked away pleasantly surprised. I can't vouch for their entire menu, but I was happy with what was on my plate. Though Alberta is famously known for their love of meat and potatoes, it's nice to see that there's a restaurant that is unapologetic about their vegan fare. While I'm not a yogi, a vegan, or a raw foods enthusiast, I can appreciate the dedication and passion it takes to sustain such a lifestyle. Noorish definitely deserves your try for that reason.