Owner Lil MacPherson likes the moniker friendly rather than full-on vegetarian. “Dad can have his pizza and beer and the vegetarian kids can have what they like,” she says. It’s family-friendly.
The menu is not just friendly to vegetarians, vegetables are creatively involved in this well-considered menu. Vegan tofu pie (chocolate and maple syrup swallow the silken tofu), saetan sandwiches on Big Life oatmeal bread, top notch organic blue chip nachos, kombu seaweed with noodles and veggie asian dumplings.
Their best seller? Vegan brains turn to nut-butter when MacPherson mentions The Wooden Monkey lentil burgers. The burger is well-textured, with onion, carrot, daikon and oats, slipped into a five-grain pita. Get some oven-baked fries on the side, a Propeller Bitter and a lightly dressed house salad with ridiculously fresh greens and toasted pumpkin seeds and you can smugly look across at the meat-loving Midtown (kitty corner to the Monkey) wondering why you suddenly don’t care anymore if Chicago loses again to Detroit.
As you probably know, The Wooden Monkey focuses on the micro-production of fresh and local foods to change the macro problems in the industrial food system. MacPherson buys all her ingredients from 40 small suppliers across Nova Scotia.
The new restaurant (1707 Grafton, the former Beacon Securities building) is totally green with chalk and milk paint on the clay and straw walls. These building ingredients meant no chemicals and provide the space with a natural climate control. Recycling is present in the decor, too. At double the capacity of the old Monkey, the interior is full of reclaimed driftwoods, redwood tabletops and they even rescued the bannister from the old Shelburne courthouse.
Hey, there’s even a music corner, with bongos and a tambourine if you want to sing for your supper. Just make sure you bring some green in your pocket before you try that.1st Runner-up: Heartwood Cafe