December 5, 2009

Refresh

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I’d been curious about the Refresh Organic Bistro ever since last Spring, when I wandered into the Organic Roots store on Whyte Avenue and noticed that a small cafe was being constructed in the space.

When I walked by on another errand a few weeks ago, it looked cozy and inviting. Though it’s not in our neighbourhood, I knew J and I would have to return soon to eat there.

We stopped in for lunch a few Saturdays ago. It’s a small place, with an open kitchen and cafe area taking up one corner of the store. There is seating for about ten people, but you can also get your food to go.

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The space feels comforting and vibrant all at the same time. For some reason – I guess it’s the slightly hippie vibe – it made me think of what Ithaca’s famed Moosewood Restaurant might feel like ( I was there once when I was about five years old, which I don’t remember). As we ordered at the counter, women in the kitchen were preparing sandwiches and mixing smoothies. A tray of unbaked cookies sat ready for the oven. It made us hungry.

At first glance, the menu doesn’t look all that exciting – sandwiches and wraps (including a raw nori roll), soups, salads, rice bowls and dips and crackers. But the food in the display case looked good. We each ordered a combo ($12) so we could try lots of different things.

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We sat down at one of the tables in the seating area. Our food came quickly and looked delicious. Bright orange soup, a sandwich filled with vegetables, vibrant salads. The pumpkin peanut soup was one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten – rich and smooth with strong, earthy flavours.  The chicken salad sandwich was warm, and we could taste cumin, sharp mustard and bright pesto. The rice bowl with tahini-lemon sauce tasted remarkably like this wonderful dish, and I enjoyed the steamed kale, since I don’t usually eat it prepared in that way. The beet-apple salad and quinoa taboulleh were both delicious.

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We were both very impressed. It’s great to go to a new, casual restaurant and discover such wonderful food. We sampled some desserts as well, and the vegan chocolate chip cookies ($3)  were the winner. They also have vegan chocolate mousse, bread pudding, other kinds of cookies, and raw carob balls. I would have tried the mousse for sure, but they weren’t serving it that day. The bread pudding was okay, but we wish it had been warmed up, and the raw sauces on top were too grainy for us. I liked the carob ball – called Raw Carob Bliss – better than J, who thought it tasted too much of dates.

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vegan bread pudding with almond and berry sauces

The three servers who helped us at Refresh were all extremely friendly. It seems like a down-to-earth place. We spoke briefly to the owner, Friederike Aust, who told us that all the staff cook everything in the small kitchen. The only thing made off-site is the bread, which comes from Breadland Organic Bakery. 

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nutty jam drop and raw cocoa bliss

Refresh Organic is the perfect place for lunch – with food this good, people this friendly, and such a great atmosphere, the name rings true: you will actually leave feeling refreshed.

Refresh Organic Bistro and Catering
10151 82 Avenue, Edmonton
www.refreshorganic.com

2 comments:

Anne said...

I hope we can go there with you!!

Marianne and Charles said...

Thanks for this review. I walk by all the time, but still haven't been in since they changed locations.