Padmanadi has been open since 2002, but this June the owners closed down the old location and opened up in a new space on 101st Street. Along with the new location came new hours and new menus. Now, in addition to lunch and dinner, Padmanadi also serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Since brunch is a bit of a revered entity for me, that was exactly the impetus I needed to try the intriguing new location. Early one Saturday morning, I recruited a hungry friend and off we went.
Parking was a breeze, thanks to the kind folks at 99 Street Market. Padmanadi customers can park in their lot, located just across the street. Never underestimate the power of free and easy parking.
After traversing the bustling, rather bleak stretch of 101st Street, escaping into Padmanadi was like entering a mini-oasis. We were greeted by a gorgeous mixture of soothing browns, yellows and greens, spectacular A-shaped chairs and striking vases of soaring bamboo. Clean, simple lines heighten the luxurious atmosphere, and the overall feeling is one of sumptuous warmth.
The quirkiest and perhaps most inviting feature of the room, though, are the pictures—simple pictures of smiling employees and customers—that dot the walls. "Padmanadi smiles," we were told.
We breezed in the door just after 9 am. Our waiter, who had been told no one ever came in before 10, was surprised, but very good-natured and friendly. (ED: The Brunch actually starts at 10 am)
I ordered a Soy Chai Latte ($5) to sip while I inspected the menu, and my dining companion went with a cup of Organic Fair Trade Coffee ($2.75). Our waiter, working his first brunch ever, confessed his latte-making skills were nonexistent, but the cook came to the rescue. I was presented with a very drinkable latte, not overly sweet and rich, but seductively spicy. It was similar to a milk-based latte, but the texture was smoother and the foam was, well, interesting. "Chunky," was the expression my friend used.
As for the coffee, it must have been good, judging by the numerous cups that were consumed.
The menu is fairly simple, offering a few salads and essential breakfast-y components such as cereal, waffles, pancakes, omelettes, eggs benedict, and tofu scrambles. Everything is vegan and organic.
My quinoa fetish had me eyeing the brown rice, red quinoa and pear hot cereal, but I decided to be a bit more adventurous and ordered the tom yum tofu scramble ($14) and a fruit cup ($5). My dining companion opted for the ham and cheese omelette ($15).
My fruit cup arrived first, in a bowl, and was much larger than a cup. It was also a refreshing departure from the suboptimal, pre-cut mixture that so often masquerades as "fresh fruit." Instead it was a very fresh, very impressive, assortment that included blueberries, kiwi and dragon fruit. Everything was also freshly cut and individually arranged.
While my dining partner was stealing my grapes, breakfast arrived. I inhaled the spicy aroma rising from my scramble, but my eyes were riveted on my dining partner's plate. His "omelette", veggie ham and Daiya cheese wrapped up in bean curd, did a stellar job of looking like an omelette, but it was the root vegetable hash I coveted. The colourful medley of roasted potatoes, carrots, cassava, purple yam, sweet potatoes and beets, all flecked with tiny crystals of salt, looked impossibly delicious. My dining partner, who typically doesn't have much use for most root vegetables, allowed me just one beet—the hash was that good. The homemade ketchup made it even better.
The omelette's filling had a smoky flavour from the veggie ham, and the Daiya cheese gave it a creamy, almost silky texture. The bean curd itself was slightly chewy, and overall the omelette was deemed "pretty good."
My tom yum tofu scramble turned out to be a mass of crumbled tofu mixed together with chunks of tomato, pieces of baby corn, some carrots, peas and mushrooms. Lemongrass, galangal and lime leaf added a blast of flavour, but after a couple of bites the heat became, well, hot. For breakfast, and for me, anyway. Spaghetti squash nestled underneath did provide some relief, though.
We enjoyed brunch, but especially appreciated the attention that was paid to the quality of the ingredients and to all the little details. But—and this is my very non-vegan opinion—the most successful dishes were the ones that celebrated the food for what it is, rather than the dishes that tried to imitate other foods. Padmanadi is a nice change, though, even for non-vegans. And I still want try the quinoa cereal. V
Mon – Sun (11 am – 2 pm) & (4 pm – 10 pm); Sat & Sun Brunch (10 am – 2 pm)
Padmanadi Vegetarian Cuisine
10740 – 101 St, 780.428.8899