Going vegan in Victoria

By Grace Cheung,
Special to The Post 
I am a carnivore. I love steaks, wings and BBQ duck, so when I received an invitation to try Be Love, a new vegan restaurant in Victoria, I wasn’t sure what to think. 
Opened by siblings, Joe and Heather Cunliffe of Cafe Bliss, Be Love has a nice, café-like feel with beautiful high ceilings and artwork on the walls. On a recent trip to Victoria, we stopped by Be Love, where we started our dinner with two interesting cocktails. The Red Cedar Swizzle is gin-infused with red cedar, and then mixed with lemon, honey, and angostura bitters. The Black Star Liner is a warm cocktail with Kraken black spiced rum and quetzal cola syrup blended into steamed almond mylk (dairy-free), and then topped with nutmeg. 
From drinks we moved to our first two courses. First we tried Sesame Miso. The broth included seaweed, kale, sprouts, and various vegetables. The nori in the chickpea miso sesame broth gave it a rich texture, and the flavours were reminiscent of Chinese sausage, as well as sesame oil. The miso and shitaake really stood out, and I loved the warmth of this dish.    
The Warm Quinoa Salad was loaded with roasted beets, kale, toasted hazelnuts, and shredded carrot. The sauce had a cumin base with a nutty balsamic vinegar, sweetened slightly by fig juices. This salad is hearty and fills you up without being heavy. 
We also tried the Masala Dosa, which is a fermented lentil crepe. The fermentation made the crepe a bit sour, which I didn’t like. The dosa was filled with a potato curry and served with tamarind-date chutney and a side of cucumber-mint salad with dairy-free cashew raita. The sourness of the crepe ruined this dish for me, but upon removing the cover, I really enjoyed the curry inside. 
The next main dish that we tried was the Numi Noodle Bowl. The buckwheat soba noodles & kelp noodles were tossed in an adzuki bean miso garlic sauce. The dish included stir-fried sesame baked tempeh, shitake mushrooms, greens, as well as marinated burdock root. The texture of the tempeh was strange and I did not like it. However, I loved the taste of the broth, with its hints of hoisin sauice. I also found the texture of the dish inconsistent because some noodles were al dente, while others clumped together. Overall, it was good, but it could have been more uniform.  
For dessert, we treated ourselves to the Karma Bar, a nanaimo bar-like sweet, with salty caramel, pecans and chocolate. 
While I may not be ready to give up BBQ duck yet, I would be willing to join a vegan friend at Be Love, and recommend you give it a try on your next trip to Victoria.
Be Love
1019 Blanshard Street, Victoria, BC
Grace Cheung is a leading food blogger on Urban Spoon. 
Read more of her reviews at www.xmasbb.blogspot.ca.
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