In May 2018 three well-known Torontonian restaurateurs: Max Rimaldi, Jamie Cook and Grant van Gameren opened Rosalinda, one of the most highly anticipated vegan restaurants. This triple together or on their own is known for series of ventures in the city, such as Pizzeria Libretto, Bar Raval, Tenessee Tavern and more. That, on its own, gives a hope for a quality vegan restaurant to finally come to Toronto. Being very excited about the idea of a Mexican plant-based place, I had finally visited it a few days ago, and let’s just say, got mixed feelings…

First things first, just as your first impression on a person comes from the way he/she is dressed, the first impression on the restaurant comes from its INTERIOR. Well, Rosalinda’s interior is just top-notch. Whoever had worked in its deco, did a great job. Unfortunately, I cannot find a name of the interior designed anywhere on the web… If anyone knows, please let me know in a comment section below. Once you enter the restaurant you are surrounded by plants, big glass windows and old-fashioned textile chairs, that give you a feeling of being in your mom’s greenhouse. On the other hand, the industrial style chandeliers, black supporting structures for the ceiling and an impressive modern bar in the middle of the restaurant, somehow blend perfectly in and create a very cozy but also stylish and trendy atmosphere.

Moving forward to the FOOD itself. The menu has a small selection of dishes, priced moderately between 6 and 18 CAD, drinks coming on average more expensive than the dishes themselves… Being a Mexican restaurant, Rosalinda probably does concentrate primarily on Mexican flavours, but one can come across some strange to be found items for a Mexican cuisine as the burger and Japanese eggplant… I mean, the name itself, come on… Also, the bar menu does not contain a single Mexican wine on the list… I shall leave it without comment.

[siteorigin_widget class=”WP_Widget_Media_Image”][/siteorigin_widget]

I had ordered Chilaquiles Rojos as a starter, Roasted Japanese eggplant and Chorizo Verde Tacos as the main course, and Churros for desert. Chilaquiles nachos came first, and they were great. They seemed to be soaked in a sauce, which made them stand out from the ordinary nachos that you would get in any bar. It served as an awesome appetizer and gave a start for a potentially great gastronomic experience ahead.

[siteorigin_widget class=”WP_Widget_Media_Image”][/siteorigin_widget]

Then came the eggplant and tacos. Both moderate spicy. The eggplant was ok, good flavour, soft and with an interesting sauce/dip on a side. However, might be too small for a main course.

[siteorigin_widget class=”WP_Widget_Media_Image”][/siteorigin_widget]

Tacos, on the other hand, were just a pure disappointment. The taco tortilla itself was falling apart of being too moist. Whether it was lying on a counter with all the feeling soaking on it for a while, waiting to be served, or it was just a menu development error of not frying it enough, or not adding some sort of spread to prevent it from becoming too moist… no one knows, but a taco definitely should not fall apart in your hands. My neighbour, on a table next to me ordered tacos as well and I’ve witnessed just the same – taco ripping apart in her hands. The feeling of the taco, on the other hand was too dry. It seems like, the only ingredient of the Chorizo Verde that was supposed to give it some kind of moisture was the onions, which is surely not enough.

[siteorigin_widget class=”WP_Widget_Media_Image”][/siteorigin_widget]

By the desert time, I had been already quite disappointed, but I had seen Churros option, with which I fell in love when living in Barcelona. I just could not resist. Sad to say, but Churros were not anywhere close to traditional Churros – too heavy and too filling, with lots of dough inside. You feel like eating one Churros was already more than you can handle. Not that I expect super high standards, but consistency is vital for any kind of restaurant, even for a hot-dog track on a corner. On our plate for example, all of the five Churros were all of different colors, representing different readiness levels, some undercooked with raw dough inside, some overcooked…

Service! One of my favourite restaurateurs, Danny Meyer says: hospitality is key, and the restaurant staff need to be 51% concentrated on providing excellent service to guests and only 49% on the technical part. Rosalinda’s staff is good at bringing dishes, they come quite fast, and that’s about it… Let’s just say, that instead of asking what our plans are for later on while waiting for us to pay the bill, waiter could have asked about our experience with the restaurant/food…

There is plenty of plant-based restaurants/cafes in Toronto, some even call Toronto – the capital of veganism… However, there is a desperate need for “quality” vegan food and even “quality” hospitality in general here, not even talking about good combination of both… Maybe that’s why, despite the existing vibrant food scene, there is still ZERO Michelin star restaurants in Toronto… Rosalinda has a concept worth of a good standard restaurant, but it is just failing on both fronts: food and service. The menu and food execution are not great, and the service is far from being so. Being a trendy at the moment place, surely Rosalinda will be fully booked for a few more months, but what does it offer for clients to return? I tried, I was impressed with the interior and some menu options. Do I need to come again? Probably not…

Leave a Comment