By Anne DesBrisay
“Fresh and Earthly Comforting Living Food” is its mantra. Tarot cards are displayed at its cash. The music is appropriately ohm-my, though typically drown out (not so bad) by the whirring of blenders and grinding of nuts and such.
This is an old time veggie and raw food haven, with decor to match. La Belle Verte’s floors are tiled and worn, its tables and chairs are an eclectic collection — some from grandma and some the side of the road – its walls are four shades of green. And if anyone out there is turkeyed out, stuffed silly, and looking to start the new year on a greener foot, I recommend you make your way to this little Gatineau restaurant for a “chapita.” Wrap Of The Year. And most of last year too. Two green thumbs up.
Building a great wrap is a lot like building a great taco. Attention must be paid to maximum flavour but also to textural contrast. And the bread has to matter.
This was called The Gong. It was spicy and smoky, sweet and sour, crunchy and soft. It had cool stuff (grated carrots, cukes, lettuce, tomato), warm stuff (sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onion), bright bits (fresh mint and basil), acidic jolts (pickled red onion) and soft, rich unctuous parts (mashed avocado). It featured smoked and spicey tempeh which is best eaten, in my carnivorous opinion, with a team of other things on its side. The moistening element — the house chipotle mayo and a Thai chili sauce — added some heat, more smoke and and a slightly sweet finish. It was all contained in an Indian chapati and it was damn good.
All on its own, it costs $9.75, but there’s an option to combine it with soup or salad. Salad struck me as green overkill. And January struck me as a soup month. So a bowl of dahl soup it was — steaming hot, perfectly seasoned and shot through with ribbons of fresh ginger.
“Chapitas” with soup: $14.95
La Belle Verte, 166 Eddy Street, Gatineau, 819-778-6363