Day 1 of vegetarian life:
No one was able to accompany me, which didn’t matter as I took my meal to go or I would be late to work and I still was. I had heard about Lola Rosa before but never got the chance of going.
It’s located in the middle of McGill ghetto on Milton Street. The decoration has a humble and welcoming feel to it. The face of Buddha on the wall compliments the benches with the colourful cushions. All the tables without an exception had little drawers that could be pulled out. The one I was shown was full of notes that people left, either drawings or philosophical thoughts. Everything about this restaurant gave me a zen feeling even the music. I almost had the impression I was transported back in India. I think it’s probably why I ordered the curry.
I chatted with co-owner Eric Bieunais who was behind the counter on a wednesday evening in September. With his partner, they’ve been in charge of Lola Rosa for eight years even if it was first opened 14 years ago. I mentioned that I only heard about it three years ago though. He told me it was normal as they only started being successful four to five years ago. It was known only in the neighbourhood until they decided to improve the quality of the food so people wouldn’t mind walking the distance to eat. Their mission is to give an alternative to people who only eat meat. They took a turn in order to “strive to make food that appeal to non-vegetarian people”. A strategy that worked perfectly as 60 to 70 per cent of their main clientele is non-vegetarian.
They have an Xpress counter on McGill campus where meals are less pricey to accommodate a student’s low budget. For example, a meal is 7 instead of 12 dollars at the restaurant. They also opened a new location in the Mile-End on the corner of Parc and Mont-Royal avenues. It is part restaurant and part grocery store. It will help provide customers with food and tips of how to cook healthy meals with only vegetables.
The curry consisted of sweet potatoes, carrots, chick peas, tofu and green peas. It’s prepared with coconut milk and served on brown basmati rice with raita (mix of cucumber and sour cream). It also came with crispy pita bread. By the time I ate it at work, it had cooled down but it still tasted delicious. I’m pretty sure I had a foodgasm, thankfully nobody was around me. To have such a reaction when the food is not as warm as it should be means that it’s even better when just served. Without any hesitation, I can say the food at Lola Rosa is better than Aux Vivres, which was voted the number 1 vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Montreal in 2011. I have to strongly disagree. The mix of the curry was perfect, even if it was more sweet than spicy. The raita was refreshing and good with the pita bread. I loved the slice of orange that I kept till the end. Without taxes, it cost 11.50 dollars.
It gets a grade of 9/10. The food is delicious and amazing, the atmosphere of the restaurant is calm and recomforting, and the staff is super friendly. I also loved that we can see our meals being cooked. The menu indicates which meals contain nuts. They can also make meals gluten free or vegan on demand. I can’t wait to return to Lola Rosa and actually sit down to enjoy a meal and a dessert. I will definitely leave a note in one of the drawers.
p.s. I almost blushed when Eric asked for a business card. I felt like a professional who was being taking seriously. If I see myself doing this for a living? DEFINITELY!!!!! I should consider getting business cards soon and indicate “professional foodie” on them.
Lola Rosa Café
545 Milton, Montreal, QC
H2X 1W5 514-287-9337
Lola Rosa Park
4581 Du Parc, Montreal, QC
H2V 4E5 514-843-5652