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Restaurant & Hotel Reviews

Boon Burger, Burlington, Canada

Restaurants Posted on Tue, November 05, 2019 10:47AM

Whenever we visit Burlington – for the Chilly Half Marathon event, for example ( http://www.chillyhalfmarathon.ca/site-chilly/Chilly_Half.html ) – we eat at Boon Burger. Their burgers are without a doubt the finest veggie burgers we’re ever had at a restaurant in Ontario. They also have free fast wi-fi so you can post your race photos whilst you warm up (the Chilly Half invariably lives up to its name) and refuel!

The Southwest Crunch, with buffalo bbq sauce, ranch, corn chips, onion, lettuce and tomato. The range of textures here is satisfying and deep, from the crunchy chips through the crusty bun, through the firm patty to the fresh salad and just enough sauce. This is very intelligently put together, created by somebody who clearly loves their burgers.

All of the burger patties are made fresh daily, or you can pay a little extra ($1.75) and get a Beyond Meat patty instead. All burgers are served with a COBS whole wheat, seeded bun ( https://www.cobsbread.com/ ) and are well priced at $9.75 max (the sandwiches are $7.75 max). If you want a double patty it’s $2.75 more. Very reasonable prices.

The Jalapeno Chedda, with bermuda mayo, cheeze, jalapenos, lettuce, onion and tomato. This is a more moist, saucy burger than the Southwest Crunch, more a burger to eat with the knife and fork rather than the hands. Unless you want gooey hands, that is. Which isn’t a bad thing.
About to get stuck into the Jalapeno Chedda.

Aside from burgers there are also pizzas, brats (made with Beyond Meat bratwurst), salads and a range of poutine.

Not The Same ol’ Poutine.
Poutine Lover.

Boon Burger is in Burlington centre and a few minutes walk from the Art Centre, which is also the HQ for the Chilly Half Marathon. Lake Ontario is within a 3 minute walk and there’s plenty of parking nearby (we parked in the municipal car park which is free on the weekends). To discover more and see the full menu, check out https://boonburger.ca/



The House of Ginger, Uvita

Restaurants Posted on Tue, August 27, 2019 06:16PM

This is Chinese/American food at its finest, and almost everything on the menu is also offered as a vegan option. The General Tso’s is a masterpiece – little tofu explosions of fiery joy – and all the other dishes were tasty, too. N grew up in the US in the 80s and everything she got on her menus back then was available here, updated and tastier. As with ‘The Flutterby House’, this food is worth travelling a long way for. If you’re staying at the Tucan Hotel in Uvita, however, it’s just a 15 minute walk along the road. Here are some photos of our meal.

The entrance is off the main north-south highway.
Seating is outside, under a tin roof, in a nicely decorated courtyard.
You know how at many restaurants they charge more for the vegan options? Well, not here. And we did ask if vegetarian meant vegan here, and it does.
Fresh juices to start with.
Vegetable rolls for appetizers.
Dumplings were our other appetizer.
Our main dishes. We shared plates.
These tofu General Tso’s were magnificent.
It was a filling, very tasty meal.
This was clean, tasty, great value Chinese/American food.

To find out more, check out their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/houseofginger01/



Flutterby House, Uvita, Costa Rica

Restaurants Posted on Tue, August 27, 2019 05:35PM

We only ate at this famous hostel but received a very favourable impression of the place. It’s not offering the same experience as the Tucan Hotel that is near Uvita bus station; Flutterby is more of a party/yoga/hippy vibe with a focus on sustainability, and it’s very close to a magnificent beach yet quite far from the bus station, services, and fresh water swim spots. We loved the friendly welcome and the comfort-style food is superb with plenty of vegan options. There’s an extensive choice of local craft beers too, as well as all you’d expect from a great bar. We enjoyed staying at the Tucan but we also regret that we didn’t stay here. Next time we will! Here’s some details about our Flutterby meal.

The bar and restaurant blends into one huge space, and the vibe is a very welcoming one. The dorm and private rooms lead off from this centre point.
The entrance.
The yoga studio, at the other end of the ground floor to the bar.
This very helpful list of onward travel options was near the entrance. The staff were happy to answer all our questions about moving on from Uvita, even though we were only eating there.
Another excellent list! We like the fact that Flutterby serves lots of local beer, and explains it in a clear way. I want to know what it is, and how strong it is. Sorted!
The stout was as lively as the label.
Food time!
We had the burger and yucca fries, the felafel plate, and the patacones and black bean dip. All of it was vegan.
The burger was a great size and tasty.
The felafal plate, plenty of differing tastes and textures there.
To finish with we had the densest vegan cheesecake ever. Amazing.

It was a great meal. The food was served quickly, and by very friendly staff.

We recommend you check the Flutterby House out. Their website is here – https://www.flutterbyhouse.com/



Pret, London & Brighton

Restaurants Posted on Mon, July 08, 2019 05:05PM

Pret is one of the largest chain eateries in the UK and they have over 450 outlets worldwide. They’re deservedly popular and if we’re looking for lunch but can’t find a vegan restaurant that we like the look of, our choice is either Pret or the smaller chain of Leon’s. There are several veggie choices at Pret including sandwiches, baked goods and salads and a great many healthy, organic, tasty drinks. Here’s a look at what we ate in Brighton. The receipt is shown so you can have an idea of what’s available, and the price.
Above you can see our dairy-free turmeric drink with a touch of warmth from ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. They’re made with rice-coconut milk alternative instead of milk.
There are lots of vegan eateries in Brighton but the problem is at the moment either they’re out of the town centre, or they’re fine dining (which we don’t want at lunchtime), or that their seating is limited, and since we were had much to see and enjoy and time was limited we chose Pret because you can walk right in and take a seat (or get your food to go and sit in the park or on the beach if you prefer). Pret are a far easier, more convenient option and the food is fresh, well priced and tasty, too.

Note, if you’re eating in the restaurant your food will cost you more than if you take away.

You can check the Pret menu, locations and their policies in sustainability and organic produce here – https://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb



Leon’s in London & Brighton

Restaurants Posted on Mon, July 08, 2019 04:00PM

There are a great many locations of this popular chain restaurant. We ate at the one just outside Tate Modern in London first, it’s so handy if you’re visiting the art gallery. I like to spend a lot of time looking at the exhibitions – they had 2 on the day we visited that I wanted to see – but I can’t do it in one viewing so it’s essential I have a break between exhibitions. The food at the art gallery is quite pricey and of limited choice so the fact that there’s a good value option right outside that gives me several veggie and vegan options was fantastic.

The second Leon’s we ate at was in central Brighton. Just as good as the London branch, and with the same perks, such as, if you bring your own mug the coffee is cheaper, and on the day before the city marathon (in London as well as Brighton) they’ll give our free rice boxes to runners. Basically all you have to do is turn up with your runner’s bib number and they’ll hand over a carb loading lunch. Very cool.
The food is great and fresh, the vibe is fun, check out the Leon’s website to discover the menu and branch locations – https://leon.co/



Travelodge Brighton Seafront

Accommodation Posted on Mon, July 08, 2019 03:50PM

Travelodge Brighton Seafront
West Street, Brighton,
East Sussex, BN1 2RE, United Kingdom
Sat nav postcode: BN1 2RE
Tel: 08719 846405

We’ve become accustomed to the veggie buffet breakfast’s at Travelodge being excellent quality and value, and the one we enjoyed at this Brighton hotel did not disappoint!

There are also plenty of choices for meat eaters as well. The food was freshly cooked and always tasty. It’s a great way to fill up at the start of the day on quality food and it’s served up in a nice environment.
The hotel location is very good – just 3 minutes walk from the seafront promenade, 10 minutes to either the Pier, the Lanes or the town centre and a 20 minute walk to the central train station.

We had a room on the 8th floor which was very quiet and with great views. There are few frills in the room but there is everything you might need, the bed was comfy and everything is clean.

The location is so useful, you don’t have to worry about leaving for the day and taking everything with you. We popped out to the Pavilion, had lunch at Leon’s, came back to pick up some snacks we’d left at the room, walked over to the beach, got a bottle of bubbly to enjoy whilst looking at the waves…

…then back to the room again to get changed before heading out to the Pier then dinner. A hotel location like this makes for a very relaxed stay.

For those looking for a functional room in a good location, the Travelodge hotel chain is always very hard to beat and Brighton Travelodge is no exception. Check their own websites out for the best rates. https://www.travelodge.co.uk/hotels/356/Brighton-Seafront-hotel



Velonas Jungle Luxury Suites, Florence, Italy

Accommodation Posted on Sat, June 29, 2019 09:28PM

(For the full review and more photos, see the July 2019 issue of our magazine)

We stayed at Velona’s Jungle for a week whilst attending the EcoTrail 80k and there are several very good reasons why we believe you should stay there too (even if you’re not running!).

Firstly, it’s owned and run by a charming Florentine family who offer warm hospitality within an elegant, relaxed setting. Staying here will give you the authentic local experience that you’re probably looking for if you opt for a guesthouse/B&B rather than a large, impersonal chain hotel. They’re also very happy to help book you online tickets for the more popular art galleries, which is great since the online portals aren’t that clear but you’ll need those tickets if you want to avoid the long queues.

Secondly, the bedrooms and public areas are designed beautifully using the owner’s antiques and also their love of nature (17th century Chinese paintings hang alongside modern paintings of animals which are the work of a member of the family). The rooms are all well appointed, quiet and comfortable, and each is themed after a famous naturalist or writer such as Darwin, Fossey or Durrell.

Thirdly, the breakfast is magnificent and served by genuinely friendly, calm staff. All dishes are vegetarian and there are plenty of vegan options such as Tuscan Beans, lentils, fruit salad, chocolate torte and croissants. The pastries and cakes are made locally and everything is served on a 17th century French table. It’s no exaggeration to say that breakfast at Velona’s Jungle was one of the highlights of our stay in Florence.

Fourth, it’s pet friendly! Regardless of breed or size, the owners will provide a bed and food and water dishes for you upon arrival, and can arrange grooming, walking, and dogsitting services.

Fifth, Velona’s is very near to transport links. The main train station, where either the train or bus from Pisa airport drops you, is a 15 minute walk away, or a 5 minute tram ride. And just across the road is another smaller train station from where you leave for the Good Tastes of Tuscany cookery class, which I recommend.

It’s also an easy walk to all the major sites of central Florence. A 20 minute walk along the Arno river will leave you at Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo. Piazza Michelangleo and the Accademia are 10 minutes more.

I thought it worth reprinting the following description, given me by the owners, as it shows the high level of thought that’s gone onto the property and their aims.

“Velona’s Jungle is a chic yet welcoming boutique hotel in the center of Florence, where guests can savor a unique style of luxury paired with a true passion for hospitality and the environment. Our suites are perfect for curious travelers who love discovering unusual and unforgettable accommodations, meeting warm local hosts, and experiencing the authentic side of Florence’s history, culture, and cuisine.

Velona’s Jungle is a designer oasis where many of the elegant objets d’art and furnishings date from the mid century, when the family’s patriarch Pasquale Velona – a respected Florentine art dealer – began collecting pieces during his travels in Italy and abroad. His fabulous finds from trips through Florence, Rome, Naples, London, Paris, and Vienna in the 1950’s were paired exquisitely with the prestigious antique and period furnishings from his gallery, creating a one-of-a-kind home.

Veronica and her mother Serena added to the original collection, carefully selecting works by contemporary artists, fabrics and decorative accents by favorite designers, and choice books and sculpture…each chosen with the same care and passion as the grandfather and together creating the eclectic whole that is now Velona’s Jungle.

True luxury travel is that which sustains local cultures and is based on an ethical and responsible style which guarantees that future generations of travelers will be able to enjoy the same beautiful land and cityscapes. At Velona’s Jungle Luxury Suites, we are passionate about sustainable travel which leaves the smallest possible impact on the environment, highlights authentic local experiences, and supports traditional cuisine.

We feature locally-sourced, organic 100% vegetarian products, recycle, encourage our guests to discover Florence by foot or bike and the surrounding region of Tuscany by train, and recommend shops, markets, and boutiques which carry local gourmet and artisan products and vintage treasures.

Each morning we serve a healthy and balanced breakfast with freshly-made vegan sweet and savory pastries and croissants so you’ll be ready to set off and explore Florence.

Our breakfast menu includes a number of delicious homemade selections, including freshly-mixed muesli, fruit juices and smoothies, organic jams, tarts and cakes, cookies, and traditional Tuscan breakfast dishes with a modern, healthy twist.

Want to take it easy in the morning? No problem, we serve breakfast until noon!

Your beloved pet is welcome in the suites at Velona’s Jungle Luxury Suites, regardless of breed or size. We provide a bed and food and water dishes just the right size for them upon arrival, and can arrange grooming, walking, and dogsitting services.

We can also recommend the best walks to take with your furry friend during your stay in Florence and pet-friendly restaurants and sights in the city center.

Velona’s Jungle has four suites, each one created with a unique style:

Livingstone Suite
This deluxe suite soothes with a palette of warm earth tones and soft shades of green, echoing the colors of a lush virgin forest. Measuring 28 square meters, the Livingstone Suite features a sumptuous canopy bed, an elegant living area, and an ensuite bathroom with a rainshower and chromotherapy lights.

Amenities
Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Darwin Suite
Sophisticated luxury paired with animal magnetism make this eclectic room one of the most unique in all of Florence. Black lacquered furnishings and African-inspired prints and decor are offset by glowing golden walls and warm parquet floors. The 25 square meter Darwin Suite has a reading corner and an ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Amenities
Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Fossey Suite
Settle in and relax, but don’t be fooled by the refined neutral tones and tranquil peace in this 30 square meter deluxe suite. There’s a touch of jungle fever in the turquoise accents, feathered table lamps, and playful animal prints and textiles. The Fossey Suite has a walk-in closet, two armchairs, desk, and ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Amenities
Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed or two single beds – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Durrell Suite
You’ll be charmed by this whimsical yet stylish tropical oasis, and with the chic palm tree wall decor, playful fern bathroom ceiling, and lighthearted “feathered friend” keeping you company, you’ll never want to leave this 28 square meters of paradise. The Durrell Suite has a balcony, two armchairs, desk, and ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Amenities
Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – Queen size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Velona’s Jungle is exquisitely Florentine yet a home from home and staying there is a unique experience. Check their website out for the best prices.

http://www.velonasjungle.com/en/



Phat Noodle, Dominical, Costa Rica

Restaurants Posted on Tue, June 04, 2019 11:23PM
Phat Noodle, about 9pm on a Sunday evening in January. Be sure to make a reservation!!

Phat Noodle is about a 5 to 10 minute walk to Cool Vibes Hostel (where we generally stay) and to Dominical beach. It has a fun, friendly, atmosphere and the place has the looks, too (the kitchen is in the shell of a retro bus)!

It’s always buzzing so be sure to make a reservation, especially over the weekends or over Christmas and the high season.

The feel of this place, and it’s sister cafe Mono Congo just across the road, is unique in our experience. You can really feel the world experience of the owners in the ingredients they use and the little touches around the place. It also looks like they’ve more an interest in what’s good rather than what’s traditional, which to us is a rare and most excellent attitude. It’s like they traveled extensively with a discerning and wise eye, collected influences from a wide range of countries and establishments – from 5 star place through flashpacker to backpacker – then skillfully morphed it all into a theory of how a restaurant by the beach should be.

As a result I don’t think it’s outrageous at all to consider Dominical as one of the world centers of cuisine (veggie or meat) right now. In the past 5 years we’ve traveled extensively as sports and food tourists/bloggers through foodie destinations such as Morocco, France, Italy, Sri Lanka, Greece, Spain and of course our home cities of London and Toronto and in our minds it’s clear. Nothing can touch Dominical for a dining experience and the reason for that is Phat Noodle, Mono Congo and the deli/store between them both, Mama Toucan’s.

We advise you check out the Costa Rican craft beer offerings or fine cocktails at Phat Noodle…

The Costa Rican craft beer scene is putting out some excellent brews these days.

…and work your way through a Thai-inspired menu. Enjoy the service, too, the staff work hard to make your visit a memorable one, it’s yet another reason that we really love eating here.

Sampling another fine, local craft beer.

The prices are fair, the quality very high, and there are plenty of options for veggies and meat eaters alike. Do make a visit to Phat Noodle, you’ll love it.

You can check out their menu, and get the number or email you need to use to make a reservation, here – http://www.phatnoodlecostarica.com/



La Pepiniere, Florence

Restaurants Posted on Mon, June 03, 2019 11:13PM

La Pepiniere – Borgo S. Frediano, 169-red, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy

https://www.facebook.com/ristorantebiologico/

La Pepiniere is a 14 minute walk from our recommended B&B in Florence, Velonas Jungle.

La Pepiniere is known for it’s vegan pizza but it could also be known for it’s fine dining style and contemporary feel, in our opinion. Clean walls and a wooden counter greet you as you arrive, there are plant pots suspended overhead in metal frames and fresh pizza being made behind the counter.

The menu has organic, vegan and gluten free choices; I started with the 3 taste platter. There was a mushroom tartare with a corn waffle, it was a loose tartare, falling apart easily, with a fresh, subtle taste. Not your usual mushroom flavour, much more of a spring feel to it, which was appropriate given it was April.

Also on the plate was a nettle Gnocchi with fava beans and a celeriac sauce. Magnificent.

Finally there was a vegan mozarella breaded nibble, deep fried yucca, purple sweet potato fries and onion rings with chimichurri sauce. There was an interesting range of texture through all of this.

Next up was my vegan pizza. I chose the Barchetta Bianca. The crust was stuffed with vegan ricotta and topped with vegan mozarella, sauteed chicory, capers, chili pepper and black olives. I loved it.

The wine list is extensive – all selections are organic – and there are also organic beers from San Gimignano.

I loved my meal here, great service, lovely food, good value and the smell of pizza cooking inhabits the place making it a very welcoming, lip smacking place to be.

If you’re in the mood for great vegan pizza, or some some tasty, fine, vegan food, we recommend La Pepiniere. Contact them via their Facebook if you wish to make a reservation.



Borgo Firenze, Florence

Restaurants Posted on Mon, June 03, 2019 10:20PM

Borgo Firenze – Borgo S. Frediano, 145r, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy

https://www.borgofirenze.com/

Borgo Firenze is a 13 minute walk from our recommended B&B in Florence, Velonas Jungle.

Gabriele greeted me at the door of Borgo and set the friendly tone for the evening. He’s easy going, fun, charming, jokes a lot and speaks perfect English.

“All diets and allergies are catered for here,” he explained. “If anybody has special requests, they can just email or call before they arrive to let us know and we’ll arrange something for them. The menu changes every 3 months, with the season, and since I live in the country I buy the days ingredients fresh on the way into work each day.”

Before my food arrived, there was a lovely amuse bouche of beet mousse with fresh bread.

I started with the falafel and, since it was white inside and lightly spiced, assumed it was chickpea based and made in the Syrian style. Gabriele corrected me.

“It’s fava beans, so you might say it’s a very Italian dish as we grow them here and have done for centuries! You’re doing the right thing there, eating them with a decent wine from the area. The dish isn’t acidic at all so it’s lovely with a red.”

I’d never thought about pairing falafel with Chianti but when he pointed it out it made perfect sense!

My second course was flan made of beetroot, avocado, potato and carrot. It was extremely light and the creaminess of the avocado gelled with the earthy depth of the beets beautifully.

“What are the 5 dots around the flan for?” I asked. “Do they symbolize the Medici?”

“No,” Gabriele laughed. “Nothing that deep, it’s just decoration!”

I moved onto a risotto made with Aquavello rice (which is the only white rice with the same nutritional value as brown. It’s aged for up to 7 years), pumpkin, portobello mushroom and pumpkin seeds. The mushrooms ruled this dish, each bite was a dance of textures, the deep bite of the rice and seeds, the softness of the pumpkin, in between it all was the mushroom, amazing. Topping it all were beet sprouts, offering yet another, slightly bitter, aspect to a rich, expansive dish.

Dessert was a baked pear in wine sauce, topped with sugar and cinnamon. It looked like a Flemish still life and it was a delicious, light end to a magnificent meal.

Borgo offers exceptional service delivered with humour and an authentic friendliness, and food that pushed all my buttons. Tasty, well presented, you might almost call it fine dining with a touch of rustic mixed with bohemian art cafe.

Check out their Facebook and their Instagram and please be sure to pay them a visit if you’re in the city!



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