Ginger Cafe is a delicious blend of culture and cozy just out of Ottawa
Reviewed by Kyle den Bak and Jane Kearnan of PlantKind
The best restaurants aren’t just places to eat, but places that engage all the senses. To become favourites and household names, they must bring together great food, interior style and ambiance, and community. They can even draw on local history and surroundings and give a sense of connectedness to the experience of dining away from home.
Ginger Cafe is such a place. In the heart of Lanark County, this gem has boldly gone off the beaten path by offering a wide variety of health-conscious homestyle vegetarian and vegan fare to please all pallets and tastes. They pull this off with confidence and style in an effortlessly alluring setting in a historic locale.
Upon walking in, you’ll immediately feel a sense of “home”. It could be the impressive penny wall, the beautiful copper details on the food bar and cutlery bins, chilled out folky tunes and the cozy seating. Most of all, it’s the warm blend of korma spices, smells of nourishing daily soup, and lattes brewing. You feel you are going to be completely taken care of.
The restaurant is a pay by weight buffet as well as coffee and juice bar. The hearty buffet staples range in cultural roots from Asia and India to North and Latin American. There are curries, Asian-style glazed veggies, meatless meatballs, classic salads and more. Soups, fresh juices, and delicious desserts compliment the menu.
The cafe owner has done a fantastic job of incorporating many local products and ingredients into the menu. This includes local ingredients from Oat & Mill, Agape Gardens, Cameron’s Maple Products, Phoebe’s Ferments and a host of others.
It is proudly owned by Tiffany Nixon from Carleton Place and is staffed by very lovely and helpful local community members. They do custom orders and private events, host local talent on live music nights, neighbour with Hamsa Yoga Studio and the cafe is even decorated by a neighbouring interior decorator (whose style we love!).
You can’t eat at Ginger Cafe without admiring the decor. It is decorated in a light and airy modern country-chic style. Recently expanded in 2016, it includes earthy wood furniture, an abundance of greenery and cozy cushions combined with modern lines and stunning copper accents. It exudes a classy yet inviting humble style.
Bringing all these elements together is the location. Located in the old Canadian Pacific Railway station built in 1921, Ginger Cafe brings a bit of new world style to old world charm. No wonder they won the 2016 Carleton Place & District Chamber of Commerce People’s Choice Award!
Every time we have gone to Ginger Cafe, the weather has been cold, wet and dreary. It only adds to the cozy appeal Ginger Cafe’s ambiance and is exactly the kind of space you want to retreat to in bad weather for a hot bowl of soup and a sweet little cupcake and fresh coffee.
The menu is adequately varied and all exciting. We like to load our plates with a bit of everything, are our favorites:
We love the glazed beans, carrots and tofu which have a wonderful tamari and ginger flavour. The texture is just right, with a bit of crunch left in the beans and a pleasing bite to the carrots. They are a healthy addition to any plate.
The meatless meatballs will please even the most die hard meat eater at your table. With a chewy and hearty texture and sweet and savory sticky sauce, they are a real favourite.
The veggie korma is warming and delightful, full of rich, earthy flavour and Indian spiced root vegetables. This is a winner if you are looking for filling plant-based comfort food.
The seaweed salad is an unexpected addition to the menu that is so fresh and flavourful. The sesame dressing is perfectly seasoned.
It’s the kind of food that leaves you feeling satisfied, healthy and full of energy. Most of the additions are whole food \-based. All are meat free. So much fresh flavour and colour!
The desserts are different every time we have gone. A few that have stood out are:
The Oat & Mill ice cream cookie “sammie” a sandwich of vanilla oatmeal based vegan ice cream, layered between two delicious vegan cookies.
The vegan carrot cake cupcake. A beautiful sweet and spicy carrot cake with a rose petal decorated cream ‘cheeze’ icing.
The old fashioned style vegan donut with chocolate glaze. Need we say more?
We think no trip would be complete without a coffee bar goodie. The brewed coffee, espresso drinks, and teas are all wonderful. We take ours with coconut/almond milk to go and hit the road satisfied and fuelled for our next adventure.
More Ottawa residents are skipping the downtown festivities in lieu of a mini road trip for a quiet country weekend plan. With brewery tours, craft shows and activities popping up in Lanark, Ginger Cafe is the perfect food destination amid your day of out-of-Ottawa fun. We can’t think of a better place to roll-up to after a stint on the Trans Canada Trail. Just 46km from Ottawa, it’s worth a hike, bike, or run to Carleton Place.
Gracious thanks, Ginger Cafe, for your superb service and hospitality. We know we’ll be back soon!
Kyle & Jane
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