Zesty Cauliflower and Vegan Baklava at the New Nuba – Don’t Even Try to Resist.

by L Matthews on July 26, 2012

nuba vegan restaurant reviewHaving eaten three times now at the new Nuba on West Broadway it’s probably right that I get round to doing a restaurant review. I could simply say ‘Go – it’s fabulous’ but I imagine you might want to know a little more. My top tip for eating at Nuba is to realise that their default position on the menu is vegan, so don’t, like me, be fooled by the (v) next to some items that actually means a meal is vegetarian rather than vegan. (The vegan dishes are the ones without anything in parentheses.) The restaurant is not exclusively vegetarian so watch out for the (m) items that contain meat/fish other dead things. While it’s wonderful that Nuba’s menu caters so well for vegans it is a little confusing if you’re used to scouring a menu for the little green ‘v’ or random plant picture, or something else to help out a hungry herbivore hunting for a tasty vegan meal.

Vegan Food Buddies Listen Up

My second piece of advice is to go with a group of friends, hopefully vegans, or at least someone as hungry and enthusiastic about food as most vegans are. That way you get to order a gazillion things and try ALL the foods. They have three sharing platters, the larger of which turn up in stages and can leave you a little bewildered at first as you wonder where your hard-earned cash went. Don’t fear, Nuba’s food offerings may be deliciously fancypants but they also fill you up. Just last night I walked out holding my happily replete belly to see three ladies who had exited the restaurant before me also grinning at each other and clutching wonderfully full stomachs (their own I might add). The platters are not totally vegan and when I’ve had them it’s been to share with non-vegans so that wasn’t an issue. I would imagine that the delightful staff at Nuba would be more than accommodating should an entirely vegan table wish to have La Feast or Le Petite Feast. I was in charge of making sure all the Mjadra (avocado, green lentils, caramelised onions, rice, and jalapenos) and, well pretty much everything that wasn’t halloumi or Macedonian feta was cleared from the giant plates.

Najib’s Special – That’s for Sure

nuba falafel

Nuba's top-secret falafel recipe is delicious (picture from BCLiving Magazine as I ate mine too quickly to capture a picture...)

Third piece of advice, try Najib’s Special. Do NOT be put off by the cauliflower. This is cauliflower taken to an entire other world of vegetable goodness. It’s lemony, just salty enough, and a tiny bit crispy and has won over at least one person who I know dislikes cruciferous vegetables almost religiously and a house-guest who when asked about dislikes simply said ‘cauliflower’ and made a face (you know the face). I’ve eaten this mezze every time I’ve been to Nuba and it is always delicious. It is served with tahini dipping sauce and a spicy pea sauce that I studiously avoided but was assured was excellent by those whose taste buds don’t explode with nary a hint of heat.

Nuba for Vegans and Non-Vegans Alike

My party last night included me (a vegan – who knew!), a vegetarian, a sometimes vegetarian, and a non-vegetarian. All were happy. I shared the zesty salty toasty cauliflower to begin with and then had the stuffed eggplant (an entree), but with tahini instead of the regular labneh (dairy) my friend had (who also declared it delicious). It’s always nice to eat at a restaurant and have someone nod nonchalantly when you ask a thing to be veganised. The eggplant was perfectly cooked, not too soggy and with a wonderful bit of crispiness to the skin. It came topped with a vegetable medley of red onion, zucchini, tomato, and chickpeas, with lashings of tahini dressing for dipping.

Prices, Wine, and One Minor Complaint – Now Addressed!

The Nuba at West Broadway is the only one of this mini-chain that I’ve eaten at but, from what I’ve heard, it’s probably the fanciest in the pack. The restaurant has a touch of romance and so is wonderful for dates, entertaining friends, and offering a family-friendly dining experience. There have been kids of various ages in there every time I’ve eaten at Nuba and everyone seemed happy (at least, that is, there was no screaming). It can get really busy, even on weeknights, so make a reservation. There is limited seating at the bar for you to get started with drinks but you can leave your name and number and stroll Broadway until they call you back when a table’s free. A substantial dinner for two with accompanying drinks ranges from around $50-75, assuming an appetiser and entree each. My only complaint is was that Nuba does did not have its wine list available online, or its full menu. I love it when restaurants have this information to view beforehand as it means I can cross-check against Barnivore for vegan wine choices and also have less anxiety about choosing dishes quickly… flustered in a restaurant, me? Never!

The menu is now online for the Nuba’s West Broadway location so I’m heading off to drool over it…

Don’t Miss this Dish

Aside from the delicious cauliflower mezze, the garden falafel are excellent and I want Victor’s secret recipe for them, now. I’m assured the halloumi is fabulous, and the houmous that comes with various items is delicious, both in texture and taste. Trust the Lebanese to get houmous right, right? For lighter-looking but actually really filling fare try the Fattoush salad with garlic-lemon-sumac dressing and pita chips. The black quinoa salad is also a favourite according to the staff and this meal promptly disappeared down the gullet of the lovely chap sitting next to me so fast that I didn’t even get to sample said salad. What this means is that I’ve no choice but to head back to Nuba a fourth time to try this attractive-looking dish combining black quinoa, chickpeas, pickled carrot, fennel, and fresh herbs, with orange dressing. Next time I’ll remember to get some more vegan baklava to go as these little morsels of sweet goodness are worth the trip in themselves. Who’s been to the new Nuba on West Broadway? What did you have? Can I come with you next time?

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