Open for about two years, Thrive Organic Kitchen is a terrific addition to west-end Toronto’s dining scene.
For five years, Pat Zisis ran Kalamata Greek restaurant, on Lakeshore Boulevard West, near Mimico, then decided to change course, renovated the space and launched Thrive. It’s an extremely pleasant room, open and airy, bright in its light-green palette, a lounge area outfitted with a fireplace and comfy sofas enhancing the homey-kitchen/community-hub feel.
Chef and, along with Zisis, Thrive’s co-owner, David Perez turns out smartly conceived vegetarian fare that sings with flavour.
One night, there’s Mexican black bean soup, carrying a hint of spice and speckled with chunks of tomato. Dips rock, especially the ultra-fresh, brightly flavoured guacamole and the chunky hummus made with raw almonds and perfumed with turmeric.
Citrusy lemon spirulina dressing animates the Alkaline salad loaded with baby arugula, kale, sweet potato, spicy almonds and avocado.
And who knew a vegetarian taco could be so tasty? Perez loads three soft purple-corn tortillas with cheddar, guac, grain-and-nut chorizo and spicy sofrito sauce. More, please.
There are substantial and elaborate bowls anchored by brown rice, quinoa or freekeh (green, roasted wheat kernels). I choose freekeh for the Buddha bowl, which layers, on top of the nutty grain, baby spinach, carrots, mango, cilantro, peanuts, red onion, black sesame seeds and sprouts in a lively tahini-based dressing.
Even better is the Hercules bowl. There, chipotle oil lends smoky heat to a construction of raw almond hummus, cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes, avocado and grilled tofu, all on top of nutty brown rice.
Desserts are a revelation. Flourless, not-too-sweet cashew cookie is outstanding, while mango puree jazzes rich cheesecake on an intensely nutty cashew base. But best-in-show goes to a mousse made with raw cacao and avocado. It’s silky, rich, deeply chocolatey and would be at home on the dessert menu at any high-end restaurant in the city.
Thrive Organic Kitchen caters corporate events and offers an onsite banquet hall accommodating groups of 100 people for seated events and 180, cocktail-style.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued almost 1,000 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.