Exile Bistro is a new plant-forward restaurant that opened in March 2014 that serves primarily vegan and vegetarian cuisine, and it’s located in Vancouver’s West End on 1220 Bute Street just off Davie. If you enjoy eating delicious, innovate and healthy food, this bistro is for you. Exile has a warm atmosphere with wooden table tops, friendly and knowledgable staff and large windows facing the pedestrian only tree-lined street.
Vancouver is attracting restaurants that are thinking locally about their food sources and globally about the impact of our food production system and Exile Bistro is no exception. This restaurant does food differently.
As Vanessa Bourget, owner, explained, their philosophy is captured in their name. “Exile” is a broad concept and is meant to convey the idea that we all choose to live life in some way that is divergent from mainstream society, such as choosing a different way to live and eat. Exile aims to offer alternative foods and food preparation methods such as that of what foragers and early settlers would have done.
Image: Exile Bistro
The comment found at the bottom of the menu is another hint into the uniqueness of Exile’s food philosophy – “all menu items are vegan unless otherwise noted.” Exile’s food technicians Kaylie Barfield and Melanie Witt have designed a plant-forward menu that features primarily vegan and vegetarian dishes, but also includes a few ethically sourced meat dishes.
You can expect to find healthy seasonal plates that are prepared using traditional cooking techniques such as house pickled or preserved vegetables, naturally fermented nuts and cured meats.
The benefits of cooking this way? It maximizes the availability of nutrients in the food. Lactic acid and probiotics from fermentation and enzymes activated by sprouting make these foods easier to digest and the nutrients easier to absorb. Exile sources their products from sustainable sources and get most of their vegetables from small local farms such as Sole Foods, Urban Digs and North Arm.
Exile is one of Vancouver’s best new brunch spots, especially if you’re a vegan. Their homemade vegan treats are great if you only have time for a quick snack and coffee break, but the french toast is a sit-down-and-savour kind of meal.
The thick pieces of sourdough, hazelnut foam, homemade apple butter, walnuts and spruce tips are a delicious combination. Pair breakfast with a mocha using Nuez’s raw hazelnut milk and you will be starting the day off on the right foot.
Sample Dinner Menu courtesy of Exile Bistro
The dinner plates are tapa style. Eating at Exile is a learning experience as each new dish comes from the kitchen – it’s incredible to see the variety of different foods that grow in the Pacific Northwest. Pictured below is the lentil pate, pickles, levain crackers; and naturally fermented vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The drink menu is created as thoughtfully as the food menu. The vegan green caesar is an appetizer in itself with Exile’s take on the traditional classic. It’s made from potato vodka, cold-pressed juice, blue-green algae, celtic salt and served with pickled vegetables and kale flowers (pictured below).
And for dessert? The vegan chocolate truffles are incredible, or you can try Vanessa’s recommendation: a chaga-schizandra float with vegan coconut bliss ice cream. There is no guilt with this dessert either: chaga is a medicinal mushroom that has amazing healing and protective properties, including being anti-inflammatory, an anti-oxidant and an immuno-regulator.
Schizandra is known as the five flavour berry in traditional chinese medicine and offers balance and harmony for the nervous and endocrine system and is good especially for the adrenal glands. Go ahead, indulge!
Image: Exile Bistro Facebook page
The food at Exile is innovative and creative. Try it for yourself for dinner from 5 p.m. to midnight, seven days a week (late menu after 10:30 p.m.) or for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Address: 1220 Bute Street, Vancouver
Tuesday to Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight
Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight