There are too many Taurus women in our group of friends: Whitey, Sweet Pea, Peaches, Mr. Sheffield, Diva #1 and of course Vegan Vixen. Much to our chagrin, Vegan Vixen chose a vegan restaurant to celebrate her birthday. The Artist, Bellatrix, Diva #1 and Sweet Pea arrived only slightly discontent and confused as to why this was being done to them. We were nice to her, why was she punishing us? We had been to Chu Chai, and were moderately impressed with the results. So we went to Invitation V expecting more of the same. Unfortunately, Invitation V even had the Vegetables, who are Vegan Vixen’s vegan friends, admitting that this wasn’t good vegan. Imagine how the carnivores felt?
The Divas who are always late managed to arrive thirty minutes early because we had mistaken the time. We were famished and wondering if we should have snuck some prosciutto into our purses, the way we sneak in our flasks when we shouldn’t be drinking. We were starving so before Vegan Vixen and the rest of the cavalry arrived, we ordered the homemade pesto bread sticks with olive oil and balsamic. They were out of bread sticks so they offered us brown grilled pita. It would have been better had the pita been white, brown bread shouldn’t even be called bread; it is always dry, even when it is fresh. But it was a little snack that was needed to sustain us as we awaited the rest of the guests to arrive.
Vegan Vixen ordered the rustic onion soup that was topped with a garlic crouton chip and daiya cheese. Daiya cheese is not cheese, it is what is called a dairy alternative. It is made of arrowroot and contains neither soy nor animal by products. It can be melted like cheese and has similar properties, but we repeat, it is not cheese. Very little of this cheese topped the crouton chip, Diva #1 tentatively tried the cheese and though it was tasteless, it was not offensive. The broth of the soup could use some work, and this was not because it was vegan, a delicious vegan broth could have been made, and there was not enough daiya cheese to really call this an onion soup. We had considered getting this appetizer and we were happy that we skipped it.
The butternut squash and roasted red pepper purée soup was ordered by Sweet Pea. It was as expected; it required more salt and pepper, or even some other fresh herbs to lighten it because it simply tasted like puréed vegetables. It needed something to make it stand out, herbs were truly missing. The soup came with what the Divas would have called shrimp crackers, but we had no idea what they were made of. They came with a peanut butter sauce and were an odd addition to the rustic soup. We were hungry so we munched on but so far we were simply satisfied but not impressed.
Then came the savoury homemade seitan satay, we don’t think that it is pronounced “satan” but this remained the joke of the night. This satay was served with a peanut tahini sauce. The texture was extremely strange, the seitan simply collapsed in your mouth, it was very mushy and odd tasting. Vegan Vixen assured us that seitan does not usually taste like this, nor is the texture quite the same, but we weren’t sold … this stuff was weird. Now of course dear readers, if any of you are vegans, you are likely blaming the Divas for being judgmental because we are not vegan. Alas, our post on Chu Chai clears our name, we had entered Chu Chai with even less expectations than when we entered Invitation V, and we left pleasantly surprised. This was not the case when we left Invitation V.
We love dumplings and we have had vegetarian dumplings before so this seemed like an easy vegan meal! Unfortunately this was not the case. The dumplings were not made of the usual translucent rice paper but some other form of wrapping that was thicker and more dough-like. We didn’t understand why this traditional Asian delicacy that can easily be made vegan was compromised. They were smokey tasting, as promised, but were not easily comparable to dumplings, which was unfortunate.
Our next plate was a homemade thin crust pizza with sun dried tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, onions and roasted bell peppers. We didn’t opt for the addition of the Daiya cheese; the pizza was decent enough in its plainness without adding cheese-like substances. The crust was whole wheat which we wish was specified on the menu but the vegetables were plentiful and it made for a decent pizza. The pizza was a bit too crusty, some more sauce could have been added to cut the denseness of the whole wheat crust, but at least fresh herbs topped the pizza. We don’t understand why vegan translates to health conscious. Why can’t you be an over indulgent vegan? Sure you aren’t going to eat foie gras and creamy sauces, but why the emphasis on whole wheat grains? A little bit of white bread would have helped the experience.
Bellatrix, and later when he arrived, Sensei, both ordered the vegan burger made up of a chickpea patty. Bellatrix couldn’t eat it, which is unfortunate because it was actually one of the better of the mains of the night. Sweet Pea and Diva #1 picked at it, it was better than the hot pot, it was as expected, nothing fabulous. Diva #1 has had really good vegan falafel at Vegan Vixen’s, and she had been hoping for something similar. Well at least we enjoyed the hand cut French fries that came with the burger. The problem was not that we were eating vegan, but that we had other vegan dishes that we could compare this meal too.
Known for their hot pot tray we were rather excited to try this dish. The idea of hot pot is that you can cook your vegetables, meat or seafood in a steaming broth at your table. The dish arrived rather theatrically, the vegetables were plentiful, the tofu as expected but the broth was somewhat lacking. It had a very odd flavour that was not easy to pinpoint, we had tasted Mongolian hot pot in the past and this somewhat varied. Unfortunately it was difficult to eat, the broth just left us with an odd after taste that we couldn’t place. The creamy coconut tamale was the highlight of this dish, topped with a decent peanut sauce (that should have been warmer) and wrapped in a banana leaf. We didn’t end up combining the coconut tamale with the hot pot broth but instead we picked at it on its own. The broth really wasn’t winning any points.
The Artist ordered the stir fried buckwheat soba noodles that came with red and green peppers tossed in a soy sauce and topped with a grilled Portobello mushroom. Coriander flavoured this dish and this too was decent at best, we had tasted vegan Asian cuisine before and it was saucier and more flavourful than what we were exposed to at Invitation V. We knew that the lack of flavour was not because it was vegan but from lack of effort. We had had good vegan! At this point we were getting crabby, poor Vegan Vixen, it was her birthday so we did our best but we were just so hungry.
Sweet Pea’s dish was the vermicelli rice noodles in a cream curry and coconut sauce with julienne vegetables, bean sprouts and coriander. The sauce pooled at the bottom of the plate like a soup and it did not properly coat the noodles. The dish presented itself cleanly but it lacked in taste. Once again, we didn’t finish this plate. We would have simply said that the carnivores at the table felt that the dishes were lacking something because we were not used to eating vegan. Unfortunately for Invitation V, we had been to vegan restaurants that did not disappoint us. Even Sweet Pea who had been chastising the Artist, Bellatrix and Diva #1 for being so crabby about the food before it arrived, had nothing positive to say when the food was before her.
Diva #2 was lucky to have escaped this dinner… Dessert was ordered, first a kale and chocolate fusion cake for Vegan Vixen. She loves kale, she calls it a way of life, so it was à propos to order her the kale chocolate cake on the menu. The cake was dry, but in a world where you cannot bake with butter or cream, well let’s just say that Julia Child is rolling in her grave. Vegan Vixen seemed pleased with the cake, it was certainly better than the tiramisu. Happy Birthday Vegan Vixen, we love you but not your choices; we accept all religions, sexuality, ethnicities, races, bad decisions, drug and alcohol addictions, etc… but please don’t f*ck with food, we are food bloggers after all.
The banana tiramisu tasted nothing like tiramisu. It was our fault for ordering it because mascarpone cannot be replaced, nor should it be. The banana cake was dense and once again dry, the espresso sauce was okay but we needed more to soak the cake in the hopes of making it moist. The coconut cream was not apparent at all, we couldn’t even pretend to enjoy this cake. It lay there untouched.
The roasted pineapple cheese less cake was ordered by our Sensei who had come late after his swimming class. Always one to put on a brave face, he ordered the vegan burger and ate our leftovers because he was just that hungry. What a delightful fellow! He was surrounded by Bellatrix, Sweet Pea, Diva #1 and the Artist, at this point we were less than pleasant, bordering sarcastic and murderous. It didn’t help that the Vegetables kept looking over, to see if the carnivores were enjoying themselves. Diva #1 considered eating one of them as a warning to her Vegetable friends. But she kept her mouth shut…for Vegan Vixen.
The cheese less cake was decent, the best dessert of the night, still strange, still lacking in lovely cheesy flavour but at least it wasn’t dry. Somehow we survived the night, we love you Vegan Vixen but there were more carnivores at your table than Vegetables, next time let’s do Italian where you can have pasta or pizza with just tomato sauce, and we can eat everything else. Food is about richness, indulgence and passion, at the end of the day when we order food at a restaurant, we have to keep an eye on our calories and our wallets, The Divas aren’t adding any other concerns to this list.
In the end Julian Child said it best “people who love to eat are always the best people” – and at Invitation V we did not eat for over indulgence and enjoyment, but simply to survive.
Our Rating: Never on Thursday
Tagged: 254 Rue Bernard, Asian Vegan, Bernard, bistro, Daiya, Daiya Cheese, Dumplings, Gluten Free, H2V 1T5, Hot Pot, Invitation V, Invitation V Montreal, Kale Cake, Montreal, Montreal Food, Montreal Restaurant, Montreal Vegan, Montreal Vegetarian, MTL, Mtl Food, MTL restaurant, Outremont, Pizza, Seitan, Tamale, Tempeh, Vegan, Vegan Bistro, Vegan Burger, Vegetarian, wine