Sitting on the corner of a building that also houses the Bluenose Laundromat, and downstairs from the now-defunct Cafe Vienna, the Pyramid Cafe is a cheery, sunny space.
The interior decor might be described as minimalist eclectic, but it’s comfortable, relaxed and familiar. Most of the clientele seem to know each other—indicating the place has its regulars—which is almost always a good sign.
Middle Eastern cuisine is a prominent feature on the menu, but there are other offerings available, including typical sandwiches like clubhouses and BLTs. There’s also a soup of the day on offer, and many of the dishes are vegetarian or vegan, including several vegan desserts (not easy to find in the city).
Famous among discerning vegetarians citywide, the Pyramid Cafe falafel lives up to its reputation. The falafel plate ($5.99) flows over with the small crusty patties; crunchy on the outside, tasty on the inside. Even a carnivore like me doesn’t feel as though I’m missing anything with this falafel. Served on the side are a very garlicky hummus, warm pita triangles and a heap of tabbouleh that’s not quite as acidic as I like.
This muting of flavour also afflicts the Chicken Taouq ($8.95), which our server promises will be spicy, but isn’t. What it is, though, is plentiful. Piles of moist, flavourful chicken on lentils, with tzatziki for dipping, make this dish very good, despite the shortage of spiciness.
We also sample the Greek salad (small, $4.50). It has a base of shredded lettuce, and the dressing is a little oily, but there is plenty of feta cheese and lots of olives, two expensive ingredients that a lot of restaurants skimp on.
Along with the Middle Eastern food there are a few Mexican offerings on the menu. We try the taco (chicken, bean or beef $8.25). It’s a little unusual, to say the least, and not in a good way. The corn tortilla has been replaced by a whole-wheat wrap, the shredded beef is dry and tasteless, instead of thick sour cream, there’s tzatziki. The bean and lentil mix on the side is delicious, though.
The Pyramid also serves all-day breakfast, with offerings ranging from vegan to Mexican to breakfast classics like French toast and pancakes. The Jumbo breakfast ($6.50) consists of three eggs, two slices of turkey bacon, home fries, falafel, toast, a pancake and coffee or tea; it’s a lot to consume but worth every bite.
I’d heard that slow service was an issue here at the Pyramid. During our visit, I found out the rumours were true. During our midweek visit, there’s only one server and it’s not busy. Despite this, the service is extremely slow and after our food is delivered, our server doesn’t return to our table. I would have liked to try the vegan brownies, but alas, dessert was not to be.
When we return on a Saturday afternoon, the place is packed and there are two servers on, but it still seems slow. I observe that the servers seem to be always doing things (picking up orders, ringing in people at the cash, clearing tables), so it’s either a case of being disorganized or inadequately staffed. Whatever the reason, it’s frustrating, especially if you want a refill of hot water for tea, or if there’s something wrong with your meal and you need it fixed.
Pyramid Cafe is a haven for vegetarians, vegans and those who need or want a lot of food for the money—so long as you’re not in a hurry.
Pyramid Cafe2196 Windsor Street422-1768Daily 8am-9pm
Rush to the web for more from Liz Feltham: www.foodcritic.ca
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