Monday, May 18, 2009

Guilt-Free Diner-ing in Vancouver

Nestled away on the rougher edge of downtown Vancouver on Granville street, from the outside The Templeton looks like a typical run of the mill diner (or greasy spoon as we call them in Quebec)--the inside as well for that matter. Its long single room has about seven diner-style booths complete with chunky, wall-mounted jukeboxes along one side, and a long counter with swivel stools along the other where patrons dine on burgers, beer, sandwiches, all-day breakfasts, coffee, and all the typical diner fare. However, a quick peak at the menu reveals something different: A diner with conscience.

The focus is on burgers and breakfast: organic and local burgers and breakfasts that is. There are three basic types of burgers on the menu—portabello mushroom (vegetarian), 100% beef, or chicken—which you can then dress up to your liking with a variety of toppings. All the ingredients are organic and locally-sourced. The burgers come with a side of local organic greens, french fries, garlic mashed potatoes or the soup of the day. For a couple of dollars more, you can upgrade your side dish to a vegetarian chilli or a poutine. Poutine? In Vancouver?

My dining choice was obvious: A 777 organic beef burger and poutine! According to the menu the poutine is made with French fries, aged cheddar cheese and vegan mushroom gravy. Not exactly a traditional poutine, but definitely a tasty choice. Although a bit on the salty side, the mushroom gravy tasted like a classic ‘sauce brun’; and paired well with the aged cheddar for a strong flavourful mouthful. The burger was large and juicy, topped with bright lettuce, tomato and onion. Exactly what I expected.

For a diner, The Templeton has a wide variety of vegetarian choices and is conscious to include vegan options as well. Some examples include Three-Cheese Organic Macaroni, Vegan Lentil Loaf and Pesto Grilled Veggie Lasagna. All veg*n dishes, including the portabello mushroom burger, are cooked separately from the meat dishes. This is a rarity among mixed restaurants, in my observation. If fish is more your thing, The Templeton has that too, including beer battered fish and chips from sustainable catches and tuna steak. Other diner offerings include salads and grilled sandwiches.

Templeton offers breakfast until 3pm. I had the pleasure of watching plates of pancakes, eggs and French toast float past me. Their “Mangled Eggs’ is described on the menu as bacon, scrambled eggs , and Montreal brie inside a toasted croissant, with a side order of rosemary potatoes (hmm More Montreal fare); and yes, the bacon is organic. You can substitute veggie bacon. Other breakfast offerings include huevos rancheros, farmer’s breakfast with sausages, tofu scrambler, omelettes, cereals, fresh fruit and more. Weekend brunches add a selection of “Benny’s”, or Eggs Benedict, to the menu as well as steak and eggs.

Well stuffed on my burger and poutine, I passed on deserts, which included a hot fudge brownie, vegan pear crisp, and blueberry mango crumble. The regular desert menu included deep fried Mars bars, which I haven’t seen on a menu since Scotland, and deep-fried Wunderbars. I was sad to pass them up.

Service was fast and friendly. The staff is clearly passionate about food. Following my meal, I had a fabulous discussion about local sustainable fare with my server, who herself was vegetarian. She also offered up a few other inexpensive restaurant suggestions to try in my quest for sustainable food choices in Vancouver, and also recommended some vendors to visit at the Granville Island market.

Assuming you get a straight meal at The Templeton, expect to spend about $15 after taxes excluding drinks. Breakfasts are a bit less. Deserts run about $5 each. A pint of brew will set you back a fiver, or try the local cider for abut a dollar more. Definitely a deal for guilt-free fare.

The Templeton
1087 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L4
(604) 685-4612

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