It’s easy to think of eating out and eating healthy as two mutually exclusive ideas. After all, eating out is often our time to reward ourselves after a week of watching calories and reading nutrition labels. It’s so tempting to treat our stomachs to the big no-no’s: greasy, deep-fried items covered in sauces high in sodium, complemented with creamy desserts packed with sugar and calories.
But delicious food and healthy food need not be separate from each other. In Toronto, we have access to numerous healthy-eating restaurants for those who don’t want to break their diets when eating out. As a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, I’ve begun sampling these health-conscious restaurants to prove that dining out can indeed be part of healthy living, rather than be an exception to it.
This week I enjoyed a hot buffet lunch at Commensal, a vegetarian restaurant in the downtown core that emphasizes fresh and natural ingredients as well as portion-controlled eating through their pay-by-weight system.
Commensal features an open concept design, where the buffet bars and the eating areas are all situated in one sprawling room. The buffet bars are in the centre of the restaurant, with the seating areas surrounding them. Décor is simple, clean, and well-lit by the sun, with wooden tables and chairs and a colour scheme of green, beige and brown.
Commensal has two main menus: one for breakfast café, the other for general dining. The breakfast menu is served on weekdays from 7:30am and includes a selection of fruits, breads, juices, smoothies, hot breakfast items and hot beverages.
The general dining menu is divided into three sections: hot buffet, cold buffet and dessert buffet. From the hot buffet I sampled items such as ginger tofu, steamed broccoli, lasagna, Kashmir rice with lentil, and roasted sweet potato. The cold buffet is comprised of a wide range of salads, including chickpea salad and veggie pate, while dessert boasts cakes (like chocolate mousse and poppy seed), cookies, and pies (like nut & raisin and key lime)
Since Commensal is organized as a buffet, food is self-served. You can also choose to dine-in or take-out with your own food container.
With the buffet setup, food portions are up to you. You can choose as many items as you’d like from the buffet bars, and then you pay for the meal by its weight.
One of the defining features of Commensal is that meals are priced by weight. For a meal that contains items from the hot or cold buffet, the rate is $2.43 per 100g. My 5-item lunch cost me $8.00; your costs may differ depending on your appetite.
655 Bay St., with its entrance on Elm St.
By subway: the closest station is Dundas. From the station, head north on Yonge Street until you see Elm St., and turn left. Keep walking until you see Commensal before the intersection of Elm St. and Bay St.
By car: you can park on Elm St. or at the underground garage at 38 Elm St. Commensal will reimburse your parking fee if your meal costs $20 or more—inquire the staff about the details of this offer.
- Monday and Tuesday: 11:30am-9:30pm
- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 11:30am-10pm
- Saturday: 12pm-10pm
- Sunday: 12pm-9:30pm
- Monday to Friday: from 7:30am
- Saturday: from 8:30am
- Sunday: closed.