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The Nashen family falls in “LOV” with first dine-in experience since restaurants reopened

    Our first restaurant outing since the pandemic was to Cuisine Botanique LOV in Laval’s trendy Centropolis. While apprehensive about returning to dining out, any tension quickly dissipated as we approached the modern eatery along the wide, car-free boulevard. There we found an airy and very inviting terrasse. We were greeted by the friendly staff who showed us to our outdoor table set-back from other dinner guests.

    Several tables, inside and out, were creatively secluded with glass-paneled French-doors, far prettier and tastefully designed compared to the industrial plexiglass that has sprung up everywhere.

    As for their COVID19 protocols, all staff were appropriately wearing masks and sport goggles. The website also indicated that staff would wash their hands every 15 minutes. Although we have been quite cautious and attentive to health guidelines up until now, we were made to feel comfortable and safe and were ready to finally enjoy a long overdue dining-out experience.

    Esther would be serving us this evening and her smiling eyes welcomed us as she brought us our very own menus that would be recycled after our meal. Despite being a carnivore and not all that accustomed to plant based dining, all the items seemed quite appealing to me and I quickly chose what looked like General Tao chicken, sans chicken of course. My omnivore daughters, Nicole and Nathalie, on the other hand, were quite excited to dive into a pokii bowl and chili dish while my son, Jeremy, could happily survive on poutine. A more traditional Italian plate of Gnocchi was in store for my wife, Judy.

    LOV stands for Local Organic Vegan and that’s where we started with our appetizers. Right from the start, our first entrée was sensational. We loved the fried brussel sprouts served with Buffalo sauce. It was tangy and fresh, slightly crisped and we could’ve each finished the whole plate. The next app was so tasty that we did indeed order a second serving: Dumplings were crispy shelled on the outside and stuffed with chopped mushrooms and vegetables with a savoury almond butter kimchi sauce.

    Nathalie had this to say: I had the Pok’ai bowl, and I’d say I had the best meal. To start off, the size was perfection. Like Goldilocks it was not too big, not too small, but just right. I am a pokii fanatic, and I usually get tuna. This vegan pokii bowl had beets and watermelon as a fish substitute and I was more than impressed! I’ve never liked watermelon, but it made the dish so colourful and refreshing that I might have to reconsider. The sauce was creamy and salty and added so much flavour to the dish. To top it all off, the pokii was just so beautiful! 10/10 would DEFINITELY recommend to a friend! Thanks LOV for a great night!

    Nicole was eager to try a little of everyone’s dish and described her own meal this way: LOV was amazing! From the decor, to the flavours, to the dishes’ vibrant colours — the whole experience was incredible. The fries in the starter poutine were crispy, the gravy had a nice tang and the tofu cheese tasted closer to cheese than any other vegan cheese I’ve ever had! The blend of flavours in the chili was delicious and the cilantro sprout garnish added the perfect accent. I particularly enjoyed the zen salad – almond vinaigrette complemented by mint was the perfect dressing for a mouthful of noodles and vegetables that had an exotic appeal. Brownies may have been the only dessert on the menu but don’t let that disappoint you. It was rich with a creamy mouth feel that lingered on the tongue. I definitely enjoyed my experience at LOV and given the beautiful outdoor terrace, I think it’s the perfect COVID-safe destination for an incredible meal experience!

    Judy ordered the gnocchi and described her meal this way: It had many twists to traditional gnocchi and each twist made it oh so special. Firstly, sweet potato, not regular, and buckwheat flour, not white, made for exceptional flavour. It was topped with a vibrant green pesto which was served on a bed of aromatic arugula – the mixture of savoury and peppery was very satisfying.

    We chatted with the personable and knowledgeable manager, Alexandra. She told us that I ordered one of the most popular meals: General Tofu (the other two biggies being the Big Love Cheeseburger and the Burger King Fu). My meal was plentiful with a plateful of crispy tofu, broccoli, eggplant, red pepper, bok choy and onion served on sushi rice. I’m a sauce lover and the hoisin absolutely brought this dish alive for me. If I were a true vegan, this would be the closest thing to the actual General Tao!

    The presentation of all dishes was appealing. “The shapes, colours and arrangements are done very well here,” my insightful eleven year old son Jeremy commented.

    Alexandra insisted we end our evening with their specialty brownie dish, a dark molten chocolate with just a little more drizzled on top. Delicious and went down well with a large cup of hot mint tea. What a wonderfully normal outing. Just what we needed.

    There are four LOV restaurants in the Montreal area (downtown, Old Montreal, Dix30 and Centropolis) and one in Toronto. You can also take-out or order delivery via Uber Eats, Skip The Dishes, or DoorDash. For now, a new reduced schedule will be in place for the summer of 2020 and will be adjusted as needed: Wednesday to Sunday from 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm and in order to meet with the demand for the limited number of restaurant seats available due to strict physical distancing requirements it is strongly recommended to reserve your seat before showing up.

    Although we didn’t tour the inside of the restaurant, we could see through the open doors and large windows that it is a very modern, bright and open concept. There are physical barriers between tables with the French-doors I described above and the atmosphere is peaceful and welcoming. Hats off to the LOV team for creating an environment that is as safe as it is beautiful, both indoors and on the terrace!

    You can pre-order your meal at www.lov.com and pick it up directly on site in the safest non-contact environment possible. A LOV pre-order app is available on Apple Store and Google Play store. Just search for “LOV restaurant” in the store of your choice. This application will allow you to do two distinct actions: First the pre-order to take away, and second it will allow you to make a live order from your table when you are at the restaurant. This second function allows a brand new type of service in a restaurant that reduces the contact with the waiters while allowing you to improve your order at any time in a few clicks. The traditional table service will still be offered for those who prefer this alternative of course. For those interested, promotions and special offers will be available on this application, including a 20% discount using the code LOV20 on your first order!

    Bottom line? We love LOV!

    Glenn J. Nashen

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