What’s on the menu at Avelo, a new place for fancy plant-based tasting menus

What’s on the menu at Avelo, a new place for fancy plant-based tasting menus

Name: Avelo
Contact: 51 St. Nicholas St., 647-643-3132, avelorestaurant.com, @avelo.restaurant
Neighbourhood: Church-Wellesley Village
Owner: Roger Yang (Awai, Away Kitchen)
Accessibility: Stairs at entrance, washroom on second floor

The food

The team behind the plant-based restaurant Awai has decamped from Bloor West and set up shop in a Victorian row house just south of Yonge and Bloor. With the move comes an ambitious tasting menu and a name change: “avelo” is Esperanto for hazelnut, and the official name of the heritage house is Hazel Cottage. The main-floor dining room serves only tasting menus, while the upstairs bar—which should open before the holidays—will be a more casual affair, with plant-based cheese plates, à la carte options and cocktails.

More Plant-Based Meals

The tasting menus are a seasonally driven affair created by the kitchen’s chef collective—there’s no hierarchy here. They’ve been playing with fermentation recently, making vegan cheeses (including some nut-free ones), baking their own breads and even making their own vinegars and kombuchas. There are three menus currently on offer: a $45 three-course meal (Tuesday through Thursday only), a $65 five-course one and a $95 eight-course one. Here’s a look at what’s on Avelo’s current eight-course tasting menu.

Celtuce is a type of lettuce stem with an asparagus taste and lots of crunch. Here it’s sautéed and then plated with a vegan béarnaise sauce, a beet-pomegranate drizzle, pecans and a zucchini crisp (made in a dehydrator and spiced with sumac and pink peppercorns).


This pistachio cracker might be small, but its flavour is mighty. It’s topped with black garlic, edamame purée and an amarillo chili dollop.

There’s always a bread component to any meal at Avelo. This coca (a Spanish flatbread) is topped with baba ghanoush, sumac, fresh vegan feta, micro basil, marigold petals, and Castelvetrano olives.


This coca comes with an onion sauce, purple kale, roasted butternut squash, grapes and sun-dried tomatoes. A zing of syrupy balsamic and a few borage flowers finish the dish.


Ravioli is stuffed with a cremini mushroom-truffle paste. The pasta comes in a creamy truffle-cauliflower sauce with a seared chanterelle, slices of fresh white truffle and a pea sprig.


The taters in this Yukon Gold galette are weighted down while they bake, so that they shed all the excess water, and become uber flavourful. Herb-infused oat-béchamel sauce is spooned onto the galette tableside.


This cubist caponata stars a zucchini parcel packed with eggplant and olives. Each colourful square on the plate is a different purée: yellow is a blend of corn and saffron, red is tomato, green is a mint broccoli and white is celeriac.


A loaf of house-made split pea and sunflower tempeh sits in a pool of corn salsa and a 30-ingredient mole made with chocolate, six types of nuts and four different kinds of chilies.


For the last of the savoury dishes, a grilled lobster mushroom sits on top of a wheat berry risotto that was cooked with lobster mushroom broth. Other components include a spoonful of cauliflower purée a tuft of carrot-lemon foam.


This one-bite palate cleanser is a slice of Granny Smith apple topped with a drop of apple-kombucha reduction and a black apple purée, which takes two months to ferment.


Malva pudding is a South African dessert that tastes like a cross between a sticky toffee pudding and a sponge cake. This one is ginger flavoured, and comes with cashew-based mascarpone frosting. It’s swimming in a miso-caramel sauce.


The lemon-sea buckthorn cake is topped with salted white chocolate frosting and sea buckthorn jam.


Each meal ends with house-made truffles. These ones are filled with a chicory-carob-hazelnut ganache.


Here’s the team. That’s Yang on the far left.


The drinks

The wine list focuses on vegan-friendly wines. Many winemakers use egg whites, isinglass (fish bladder protein) or casein (a milk protein) to expedite the clarifying process. Ontario bottles include Cave Spring’s Adam’s Steps, a friendly riesling; and Southbrook’s organic cab-franc rosé. Beers and ciders are all Ontario-made, including selections from Woodhouse, Collective Arts, Great Lakes, Blood Brothers and Thornbury.

There are also creative mocktails like the Rising Sun, which blends lychee and hibiscus juices with cucumber purée, and lemongrass-and-juniper syrup. A splash of Ontarieau sparkling water adds a hint of ginger and a bit of fizz to the mix. $8.


The space

The 1883-built Queen Anne–style cottage was a mess inside when Roger Yang and his girlfriend, Christina Vick-Kell, took over the lease. They fixed everything from the wiring to the window sills. Vick-Kell then designed the 22-seat room, mixing Victorian swagger (bold florals, elegant wainscoting, exposed original brick) with midcentury modern elements, like velvet chairs and minimalist brass pendant lights, which she designed and Yang then made. When the second floor is complete, the 25-seat space will have a funky attic-loft feel, thanks to the curved ceiling and rich velvet elements.

This statement wallpaper is a blown-up version of Dutch 17th-century painter Jan Davidsz de Heem’s Vase of Flowers.


The stairway up to the second floor has been adorned with spray-painted peonies by artist Vizsla Bacon.