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That Time a Vegan Cynic Became a Vegan Sympathizer

This is for all my lovely vegan friends out there. As we all know, restaurants in Kingston offer vegetarian options, but sometimes vegans aren’t so lucky. Fortunately, there’s a new spot in town where vegans can feel at home. No matter what you order, you won’t have to scrutinize a list of ingredients first.

Kingston's very own Atomica in collaboration with Knifey + Spooney has launched a brand spanking new vegan menu that will make a debut on February 1st.

Best part, the new menu includes comfort food favourites that satisfy off-diet cravings along with more refined delights.

Atomica and Knifey + Spooney Launch Vegan Menu


Introducing a guest post by Kelly Keates:

Being a stubborn cynic for most of my life, I find it hard to change my way of thinking without testing the waters first. I have always been a hardcore omnivore, enjoying the tastes and textures of smooth cheeses and hearty meats. In my mind, vegan food just could not compete and I shouldn’t even give them the time of day. I was wrong.

Going into this experience, I was excited, yet apprehensive.

I had never eaten vegan cheese or meat in my life. How was this going to go? I consider myself to be an adventurous eater, but I just could not see how this could live up to my high standards.

Worse: what if I LIKED it? 

Atomica Kingston and Knifey + Spooney Launch Vegan Menu

After taking a seat and ordering some drinks (a Moroccan Ruby for me – potent stuff), our first course was brought out rather quickly. Having come into this tasting menu late in the evening, the servers had the routine down pat and spouted off what was on the plate in front of us:

‘Charcuterie’ board with zaatar-almond chèvre, lomo di vegano, MacKinnon Brother's mustard, tomato jam, crostini, pickled onion and fresh berries. 

Looking at the board, I was a little worried about everything would go together. I decided to try the lomo di vegano (essentially vegan pepperoni) first. I was floored. It tasted nearly exactly as pepperoni. The texture was the only thing standing in the way. It didn’t quite hit the meat texture mark, but I could overlook that. I decided next to just load up a crostini with all the fixin’s and have at it. I was amazed! Everything worked together in perfect delicious harmony. And the chèvre! I had to keep reminding myself that it was not actual cheese because it was nearly indistinguishable from a soft cheese.

Next was the Jackfruit Bao Buns with ginger hoisin, sriracha, cilantro and cabbage slaw. 

Atomica Kingston and Knifey + Spooney Launch Vegan Menu

This was the dish I was most excited about as I had been seeing this jackfruit business all over the internet and had to know what was up. I couldn’t fathom how anything but a pig could possibly satisfy my pulled pork needs. I was – again – wrong. I couldn’t believe the flavours and textures that were in this taco-like bun. This dish was a table favourite. I’ll probably be going back to Atomica just for this little slice of vegan heaven.

Next came the Knifey + Spooney Flatbread with calabrese ‘salami,’ funghi ‘bacon,’ la bomba tomato, cashew mozzarella, kale and caramelized onions. 

Atomica Kingston and Knifey + Spooney Launch Vegan Menu

I was surprised that it was actually quite large and everyone at the table got their own flatbread. I will admit: coming after the jackfruit, this was a bit of a letdown. It wasn’t bad per se, just your generic flatbread. It honestly did not taste any different from any other flatbread, which I suppose is the purpose of experimenting with vegan foods. It would seem that the vegans are always trying to trick us omnivores into thinking the vegan version of something tastes exactly the same as the original.

The fourth course consisted of a Cashew Mozzarella Gnocchi with smoked almond parmesan-basil pesto, roasted cremini mushrooms, funghi ‘bacon,’ roasted garlic & red peppers, and ‘bottarga’ di tofu.

Atomica Kingston and Knifey + Spooney Launch Vegan Menu

I have to say, coming after the flatbread, this was a little much. I was already stuffed by the time this course came around and I don’t think I got to appreciate it fully. Overall it was delicious, but I found the sauce to be a little overpowering. I adore pesto more than my future unborn child, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. I think that this dish would have done better on its own as a main, being just a touch too rich for the 5-course menu.

Lastly: DESSERT. Who doesn’t love dessert? 

Atomica Kingston and Knifey + Spooney Launch Vegan Menu

Set in front of me was a Chocolate-Chia Pudding with coconut whipped cream and chocolate-covered espresso beans. 

Until this moment, I didn’t think about how the dessert was going to work sans dairy. I mean, dessert is essentially a combo of all of the best non-vegan things: butter, eggs and cream. As it turns out, dessert can exist without these things. I know! I was shocked too! But this chia pudding was actually delicious. My only caveat was the initial texture, which was not what I was anticipating. The chia seeds thicken the pudding to a similar consistency of tapioca pudding – something I am not a fan of. With the coffee beans and coconut whipped cream, however, this dessert works. I didn’t even miss the dairy.

As my first real experience with any true vegan foods, it went well. I am proud to say that I went in with an open – albeit skeptical – mind that was delightfully changed by the end. This does not mean, however, that I am about to run out and buy some vegan pepperoni and cashew mozzarella to throw on my next pizza. I still like my dairy and meat. I do see the appeal now, though, where I didn’t before.

In my book, that’s a win for the conversion column. 

Photography by Claire Bouvier
Rosalyn Gambhir
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[name=Rosalyn Gambhir] [img=https://i.imgur.com/9rNiMGU.jpg] [description=Rosalyn Gambhir is the gal behind the blog The Staycationer. Whether it's exploring the local food scene with her foodie partner-in-crime or taking in the view from her favourite cafe, Rosalyn is always a tourist, looking for the next exciting adventure within Kingston, Ontario and beyond. The Staycationer allows you to rediscover hidden gems in your very own backyard.] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/thestaycationer) (twitter=https://twitter.com/rosalyngambhir) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/rosalyngambhir/)

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