Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Last Chance for Noorish - Third Time's the charm

I have posted before about Noorish. It is a new-ish cafe that opened up in Garneau. New meaning that has been around about a year now. I went to Noorish on opening night. At the time, there was really only a couple vegetarian restaurants in Edmonton, and it was so exciting to have a new one.

third time was the charm

You can read my first review here. To summarize it, I liked the food, I did not like the management of the restaurant. Nice people, but seemed to have no clue how to manage a restaurant. I have stayed away from Noorish for quite a few months now, when a friend of mine suggested it for dinner tonight. I figured  if they have not gotten their shit together by now, they probably never will.

What is Noorish? Well, to me it is a hipster hang out, trendy and for the DINK's of the world with lots of disposable income to invest in all the latest health crazes. They are a raw, vegan (Mostly, I think they have cow's milk for coffee), heavy on the gluten-free cafe attached to a yoga studio. The serve elixirs and healthy warm and cold beverages, a small menu of typical cafe food (Think burger, stir-fry, salads, etc)

Was not a busy Tuesday night, so that may have helped them stay on top of service
That said, I here this place still gets packed, get a reservation if you go

My final overall impression? The good is tasty and filling, the staff is friendly. The menu is predictable and over-priced. If I was doing a star rating, for me, I would say 3 stars out of 5. I think it depends on your wallet and what you're looking for though... some would probably give it much more than what I do, but then... It's my blog and my rating system...

First, the cons. The menu, to me, is same as what I find everywhere. They have some salads and a soup and a sandwich, burger, pizza and some stir-fries... I am always looking for something different. The menu does not stand out because even though they are raw.. I can get similar food anywhere. For me, there is nothing on the menu that I HAVE to go back for.

Usual stuff.. burgers, sandwiches etc, etc. I did notice a kids menu.
I don't remember that from last time!
Prices - $8 for a drink (elixirs), $18 for a stir-fry or a small plate of nachos. $12 for hummus and 10 crackers. I am sorry, but I am not seeing the value. Maybe it's because of the ingredients they use... or that they know their target audience will pay to be there, but when you combine and somewhat predictable menu with high prices, it does not make me want to come back. I wish there was a couple things on the menu that were a little more economical... at least then there is a choice for the budget conscious. My friend and I had two appetizers, spit one dessert and I had a green tea. Total? $30 before tip. That is no entree, no alcohol. Let's just say, I didn't really feel like I got my money's worth even thought the food was yummy.

Hipster Vibes - Ok, this is a personal preference thing for me... but I feel going into that restaurant, that I really should have worn a fedora and many, many accessories that have no business being worn together. For some reason, I can expect this from places that are dressy. I know when I go to a fancy restaurant in jeans that I will stand out.. but with these hipster places, I am always surprised. You never know when you're going to land in one. For some reason when I end up in a hipster-type spot, I feel uncomfortable and judged... I don't know why, I just do. Something about trying so hard to have a laid-back, mellow comfy vibe, makes me uncomfortable... I am so glad I don't own my own business and can just blindly judge rather than try to create that feel without offending anyone.

Now that I have done my complaining, what did I like about this place?

The staff - yes, they were a little (A LOT) unprepared the first time I went, but regardless, they seem like nice people there. I was greeted when I came in, and offered three times an explanation on what the restaurant is about. Maybe that was overkill, but I appreciated that they want to tell people dining more about who they are. Our server was very friendly, offered opinions on the menu. Even warned us of a deceptively filling dessert that was good to share. They even happily split the cheque for us, which surprisingly puts some restaurants off. Good staff can be hard to come by and it is nice to be treated like a person and not just a table number.

The Store - part of the restaurant is selling hard to find herbs, health foods and books. I really like that, especially for a place into the vegan/raw culture. Some things seemed priced well, others were kind of high for me, but they have things that you probably can't find elsewhere... like raw chocolate, goji berries, herbal smokes, hard to find teas and lots of herbal mixes. Lots of other stuff too. It's nice to know that I can get some of these things if I am looking for them.

The Food - I know I spent a lot of blog space above complaining about the menu, but overall the food is good. Definitely not for everyone. My restaurant bestie, James, does not like the food here, but I do. Nothing to me stands out as a have to have item on the menu, but everything is tasty, healthy and filling. I am not sure why but it is missing that something that will make me go back. At the same time, I know I won't be disappointed eating there either. Strange.

What did I have tonight? first Hummus and crackers. The hummus is really good. Very homemade tasting and the crackers are very filling (Made from sprouted seeds, dehydrated.) I took the left over hummus home and totally plan to have it with a bagel tomorrow.

The hummus, it was good enough to take the left overs with me

We also split a plate of nachos. Surprisingly the nachos were one of the crackers on the hummus plate which if I had known that, I probably would not have got both of these, but nevertheless, they were also pretty good. They make this homemade chili cheese that looks kind of like cheese that came out of a tube, but tastes much better. It comes with a goji berry salsa, a raw version of refried beans (I forget what it was made of) and a vegan, raw, sour cream. The salsa and sour cream were by far the best part of this dish. They were good on their own and even better when you combined them. I would definitely order than one again.

By far the best part of these is the 'sour cream' and salsa,
preferably together.

For dessert we split a chocolate mousse cake. The server promised us it would be something you could split and when we got it, it was this little, tiny piece of cake. I thought for sure we would need a second dessert, but it was surprisingly filling. half, was more than enough. it actually reminded me a bit of the raw ice cream I made. It came with a raw chocolate sauce, caramel and berry compote and I normally hate chocolate and fruit together, but this was so, so good.

Most important part.. dessert.

So, I think for me, Noorish is not my favourite place in the city, but it isn't because of the people or the food. It is the prices and the menu choices that knock it off the top five. That said, I would not be unwilling to go back. I know the food tastes good and in the end, that counts for a lot.

So there you go, justifying my three stars. Points for food (taste and quantity), funky store and friendly staff. Points off for over-priced and lack of creative menu options. i won't be going there every weekend, but I think I will be back there again some time soon.

More than all I am glad they sorted out their management issues. Regardless of any negative, it is really good to see more vegan and raw restaurants popping up in this overly meat-centric city.

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