If you’re looking to sample Indian cuisine in Toronto, there are lots of eateries to choose from, many of them in the style of a buffet. However, they are often not the healthiest choices for eating out: much of the food is high in grease and calories, and a buffet often encourages over-eating. For a taste of Indian food that fits with a healthy lifestyle, head to Annapurna. Established in 1974, it is the longest-running vegetarian restaurant in Ontario, offering many items low in fat and heavy flavours.
When you step inside Annapurna, you’re greeted by its bright atmosphere. The colour scheme on the walls, chairs, and tables is white, pastel blue and light green, giving the restaurant interior a light and refreshing ambiance. Small plants by the large front windows and throughout the restaurant bring soothing tones and textures to the eye. During my visit, I noticed the staff had also decorated the dining room with festive ornaments for the holiday season.
The dining room itself is a mid-sized, open concept design, with no dividers or corridors that break up the eating area. A notice on the front door advises visitors to turn off their cellphone, as Annapurna is a quiet environment; the restaurant is thus best suited for solo dining or a meal with a small, intimate group.
For a restaurant that serves many vegan items, Annapurna offers quite a wide selection on its menu. Appetizers include soups and salads, as well as more unique items like pita pizza, falafel plate, Bhajia (deep fried vegetables), Poppadum (crispy wafers made with urad lentils), and specialized breads like Chapati and Puri.
For main course, there is much to choose from: tofu burger; plates with various combinations of vegetables, rice and sautéed tofu; salad combos; Idli and Sambar (rice, dumplings and stew); and Dosai crêpes with potato masala, egg, or ghee filling. In addition, there are sandwiches (with avocado, cheese, or salad filling) specifically for lunch.
Annapurna also makes a broad range of beverages hot and cold, including Masala Chai (milk and tea with spices); herbal, black, and oriental teas; fruit and vegetable juices; Lassi (flavoured yogurt drinks); and smoothies and frappés.
On the weekday evening when I sampled Annapurna, service was quick and attentive. I visited during early dinnertime, when it was quiet and there was only one server, though when I was leaving a second server was present to anticipate the busier period from 6p.m. onward.
The vegetable macro plate I ordered (brown rice, sautéed tofu, and steamed vegetables) was quite substantial, filled with fresh and great-tasting ingredients low in salt and grease.
Appetizers at Annapurna range from $3 to $5, while entrées are mostly $5 to $8. The various beverages are $2 to $5.
1085 Bathurst St., just south of Dupont St.
By car: street pay parking is available on Bathurst St. from 6pm on. For earlier dining, the smaller streets that intersect Bathurst St. south of Annapurna also have street parking, often for free and available until midnight.
By TTC: head to Bathurst subway station and take the 7 Bathurst bus north to Dupont St., or take the 26 Dupont bus to Bathurst St.
Monday to Tuesday, Thursday to Saturday: 11:30a.m.-9:00p.m.
Annapurna also closes during certain days in April and August; call ahead to verify.