I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again; Vancouver is experiencing an explosion of really great vegetarian and vegan restaurant options.
This is important for several reasons. First off, there are more and more people adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, and it seems unfair to them that the only thing they might be offered in a restaurant is salad. Secondly, there is a proliferation of food allergies and intolerances in people in our city that seem to grow on a daily basis. Almost everyone I know is allergic or intolerant to something; dairy, gluten, eggs. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are more adept at making these options available.
One of my friends, for example, who is a meat-loving gluten-free, often eats at Meet’s new location in Gastown, because it easily offers gluten-free options.
The Wallflower is one of Vancouver’s older vegetarian/vegan friendly places. It’s been around for a few years, and if you go on the weekend, be prepared to encounter lineups.
The deal here is vegetarian comfort food, though meat is offered as an option, and the meat on offering tends to be locally-produced and more sustainable. The Wallflower is a restaurant with a conscience.
The room itself is an alley, a bit dark, and with a definite edge of kitch. Old-school spaghetti westerns were playing on the TVs the morning I popped in for brunch with a couple of my galpals. There’s lots of dark wood paneling and chalk walls, along with fairy lights of the kind you might string up in your bedroom when you’re 13. Dishes are thrift-chic, and nothing matches.
All this is to say that the the Wallflower doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you shouldn’t, either. The vibe is laid back and chill.
The menu is pretty extensive, including probably about a dozen brunch options. The three of us also spanned the gamut, including an omni, a vegetarian, and a vegan. There were good options here for all of us.
Whenever we do these brunch reviews, we often order the standard breakfast. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by how they cook their eggs.
The standard at the Wallflower includes 2 eggs, toast, spuds, a salad, and, if you want it, meat or vegetarian meat options. We really wanted to try their veg sausage, but they were sadly out the morning we were there, so Michelle opted for the chorizo, which had a nice kick. The eggs were a little over cooked. The treat of the meal might have been the salad: neither over dressed nor light on content, it was a refreshing addition to brunch. The marbled rye toast was pretty great, but the potatoes were oversalted.
The vegan in our group opted for the non-mchappy breakfast sandwich. Instead of eggs, this sandwich featured a slab of polenta, which actually really looks like scrambled eggs. The texture was quite eggy, as well. This egg substitute was a new one to me; chickpea flour is the vegan sub you often see the most. Jenn’s meal also came with a side of spuds and a salad, and the sandwhich was capped off with slices of avocado (you can also choose vegan sausage) and melted Daiya cheese. We all agreed that this was our favourite of the three dishes, though Jenn had a tough time finishing it all, as it was pretty filling.
My instinct, often, when I’m eating at a new place, is to order the most outrageous thing on the menu. So, when I saw that they had a vegan poutine for breakfast, the deal was done.
Poutine is maybe not the most accurate way to describe this dish, as it didn’t include any french fries. But it was a breakfast poutine, after all, so the basis of it was the same breakfast potatoes served with all the other dishes. The potatoes were then sprinkled with Daiya cheese, cut-up Yves veggie dogs and doused with vegan gravy. Yup, it’s pretty much vegan junk food at its finest. It was a fun dish, though a bit on the salty side. But then, you’re eating poutine. For breakfast. So go big or stay home, right?
The overall experience was fun. Fun food, nothing twee. But there was also something missing from the whole experience. It felt like the restaurant lacked a chef. Yes, there was someone in the back cooking our food, but it felt like they were a cook, not a chef, someone who really cared, and put a lot of thought and preparation into the menu.
Our server also told us that all of their in-house prep has now been outsourced to their second location, the Smallflower in Gastown. Maybe this was a part of the problem?
Overall, the experience we had at The Wallflower was good, but not great. And that makes me sad. The non-meat eaters of Vancouver deserve something better, I think.
2420 Main Street
Open for Brunch every day from 9 am to 4 pm