Be Love vegetarian and vegan restaurant is like wearing a onesie. If you’ve ever worn a onesie, then you know what I’m talking about. You maybe tried one on expecting it to be a bit strange, you wanted to not like it, because it’s so hipster right now, then it turned out to be surprisingly comfortable: my thoughts exactly as I left Be Love restaurant after a single three-course meal for $35.
Despite the overuse of ‘hippie’ terms like “bliss,” “earth-sea,” and “vitality,” or references to the bartender as “the wizard,” this new vegetarian and vegan restaurant is pretty classy. Downtown on Blanshard Street, vegetarian restaurants are not underrepresented, but Be Love puts a local twist on West Coast style meals.
Sometimes restaurants like Be Love are just trying too hard—when they write menu descriptions professing to “nourish and heal body, mind, and soul” and “honor the earth community.” But after questioning my server on the authenticity of these sanctimonious statements, it seemed to be a genuine belief among the staff. I was regaled with the life story of my vegetarian waitress. The service was as effectively flawless as it was engaging, non-robotic, and they rolled with the punches when I asked to see the steak menu.
Things got cosy in my Be Love onesie, when I was seated 10 inches from an adjacent table of six people, while the remainder of the room remained uncrowded. But this provided an opportunity to see a greater variety of food, brought to other customers, and enjoy the positive ambiance of the chic, gentrified structure of rustic beams and classic lighting.
The menu item that stood out to me and authenticated all the love-talk was the “Love Bowl”; a hearty bowl of quinoa with steamed greens, beans, and a choice of sauce, priced by donation, because “everyone deserves a warm, healthy meal, no one is turned away.”
Like many of us, I find it difficult to sustainably make healthy meals with local and organic ingredients on a student budget, and honestly, Be Love did little to change my mind about that. But, although things were a little pricey, it was helpful to see for myself what people create with wholesome ingredients. That gave me hope (though you might have to go out of your way to make homemade kelp and buckwheat noodles).
The Be Love beverage menu features an extensive selection of fresh juices, smoothies, shots, sodas, and one-of-a-kind hot and cold drinks. I was skeptical of these at first, but after softening to a “Magician’s Mead,” I also have to admit that the “Red Cedar Swizzle” indeed tasted quite like a tree (which, depending on if you’re someone who enjoys the taste of tree or not, could be good or bad, but I enjoyed it).
For those of you with allergies, Be Love is wheat, gluten, dairy, meat, and processed sugar free, which sounds pretty good, until you try to eat a burger without a bun. Then you’ve got a quadrangular chunk of birdseed sandwiching a messy mushroom patty, squirting your date in the eye.
The Portobello Reuben was actually not bad, albeit viscid, and its accompanying pumpkin soup was fantastic. The “Green Bowl” blended mild flavour layers with fresh avocado and veggies in a creamy Thai sauce, atop a tasty and indiscernible mound of mush, allegedly steamed brown rice. Even the “Vitality Rolls” gave a fresh reminder of how food ought to taste when it isn’t fortified with MSG and chemical preservatives (though the effects on my personal vitality remain questionable), and all in all epitomized the experience; pretentious names, but delicious food.
However, my only vehement objection to Be Love is simply that ice cream without the cream just wasn’t meant to be. Otherwise, it had all the qualities of a good onesie; kinda weird, a bit hipster, but good nonetheless. So go ahead and try it out; all the cool kids are doing it.