Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vancouver restaurant round-up: The Naam

We were in Vancouver, B.C. this weekend for the Vancouver marathon. (Yay, Jordan, Danielle, and Joel!) Food as fuel was a bit of a theme, but we were trying to find vegetarian food/fuel that would delight the tastebuds as it nourished the muscles.
Our first meal in Vancouver was lunch at The Naam. It was a beautiful day, so if we had known to request it, we would have asked to be seated in their charming courtyard/patio. We didn't know the oasis of green existed, though, so we were seated promptly at an indoor table for two. The restaurant smelled good and had a great, fun mix of diners. Something about the artsy vibe reminded me of Vermont. But on our way to our table, The Naam had its first strike: newspapers strewn on the floor. And the hostess just stepped over them-- twice. I wondered if this was some proto-compost sort of ritual, or if it was meant to indicate an extreme hospitality, as in, "Go ahead! Make yourselves at home! Leave your papers on the floor like you did in college-- it's OK! We want you to feel comfortable!"
Alas, the mysterious something floating in my water glass just made me think that the newspapers on the floor were an indication that hygiene was not a priority.
I chose a veggie burrito (the vegan option), and J. chose the Dragon Bowl. My veggie burrito was good, but it was less Mexican than I expected-- oddly, more Italian in flavor. I loved that the menu offered vegan cheese (and labeled items clearly so it was easy to see what was vegan, what had eggs, what had dairy), and it wasn't too weird, but as usual, it's best not to try to think of vegan cheese as cheese, more as just a special topping. I wish there had been some sort of bean in the burrito-- black, pinto, refried-- to give more protein and substance. The salad on the side was a bit too sprout-filled for my taste, but the green dressing and shredded beats were delightful. I ordered a fresh apple and strawberry juice, but it never materialized (except on the bill). J. was disappointed with the dragon bowl because there was no fire in it at all-- but lots and lots of sprouts. We thought this might not have been the best choice for a pre-marathon meal...
I think maybe this would be a fun, safe vegetarian restaurant for those times when you just want a meal in a quirky place. I would be interested in tasting their soups and their desserts, and live music seems like a good fit for the space. All in all, it felt a little too out-there-vegetarian for me; I think I was expecting something more mainstream, something with fewer bean sprouts and less Maude Lebowski-inspired art on the walls.

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