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Italian or Vegan? Rafe Resto-Lounge in Thornbury Has Both

Posted by Sherry Rioux on May 19, 2015

Rafe Resto-lounge is a new restaurant down by the Thornbury harbour. It’s an Italian restaurant that also boasts a raw vegan menu – not something you hear every day. While I have not made it there yet myself, some friends of mine have and, wow, are they raving! Here is what they had to say:

“We are, as you know, vegans, and there really aren’t any good places for us vegans to eat here in Collingwood so when you made the announcement about Rafe opening up in Thornbury we decided to check out the menu on line.  Well!  Lucky us!  They have vegan selections.  We found this very unusual for a traditional Italian restaurant to serve vegan options.  What we didn’t know, but now do know, is that this is no “traditional” restaurant.  Rafe is more than that.vegan

When we arrived, (we had made a reservation ahead of time) we were seated beside the window, and because it was Mother’s Day, and maybe because I look like a Mother, I was treated with a lovely mimosa!  Deeeelish!  We decided to order only from the vegan menu (which is separate from the regular menu) so we proceeded to get one of everything.  That included Avocado Tartare as an appetizer, the Green Protein Salad for hubby and the Strawberry Sensation for moi, and as our mains we ordered Pasta Leggera (keep reading for a description of what that is), and Zuccoland for me (again, keep reading).

We were so busy talking and enjoying the ambience, we didn’t notice the volcano that was placed in front of us.  The salads that we thought would be a nice little starter salad were humungous!  This was served on a white dinner plate and had just the right amount of greens, sprouts, asparagus and yes! even lovely fig slices and dehydrated apple and beets.  It was a feast for the eyes!  The presentation was gorgeous.  Was wishing I had my camera there, but take my word for it. It was a picture.  As we delved into our creations, we were wondering “if the salads are this huge, how big is dinner going to be?”  Needless to say, dinner was gigantic!  Again, using the same dinner plates as our salads, hubby’s pasta arrived and my zuchini noodles with the sundried tomato sauce came to us looking like a masterpiece that you really didn’t want to touch.  The Chef was so creative in making our plates look like a piece of artwork.  OK.  Here comes the description part that I promised.  The Pasta Leggera was brown rice pasta in a truffle oil (if you’ve never experienced a truffle oil you don’t know what you’re missing), with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, garlic and beautiful fresh basil.  When I tell you it was a “taste sensation” I’m actually downplaying it!  OMG!  Absolutely delishioso!  The Zuccoland that I ordered was actually served room temperature, much to my surprise.  The Chef had made these beautiful noodles out of zuchini (I was in awe!) with a beautiful sundried tomato sauce, topped with fresh sprouts.  Heaven on a plate!  The two of us ate half of our dinners, then switched to taste the other’s choice.   We were both transported to a place of savory bliss!  I don’t think, in all of my years of being a vegan that I’ve ever had vegan food look or taste this good!  It was a mouth-watering experience at its best.   I’ve never been so sad to see the bottom of my plate before!

Looking at each other across the table after that experience, we wondered “do we even try dessert?”  That question lasted approximately 2 seconds.  We decided on the Vegan Pecan Pie.  OK…..so I’m a dessert freak, but having said that, I’m also a self-proclaimed expert on vegan desserts.  I love making them, but I also love eating them.  What can I say about the pie.  The only word the comes to mind is exquisite!  I don’t think I’ve ever described a dessert that way, but this pie deserves every bit of that word.  Out of this world, exquisite!

When we were done dinner, the two of us could hardly move.  We asked to speak to the Chef. I needed to meet the person that put this masterpiece menu together.  I believe his name was Francesco and he was as wonderful as his creations.  We weren’t surprised to learn that he, himself, is a Vegan.  Anyone that can put that kind of a taste sensation together has to know what “our kind” like to eat.  He nailed it!

I realize I’m telling you just about the vegan part of the menu, but the other tables around  us seemed to be enjoying their Italian dishes every bit as much as what we were eating.  Didn’t see a sad face or a grimace in the entire room.  The servers were very friendly and inviting; the owner came around and talked to everyone making sure there were no complaints.  All in all, it was a wonderful experience and one I will definitely do again.

In conclusion, there are four rules to eating at Rafe and here they are:

  1. Order dinner.
  2. Insert fork in mouth.
  3. Chew long and slow.
  4. Sit back and savour!

There’s nothing more to say except would I recommend this place……………hell ya!”


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