Volume 95, Issue 78

Wednesday, February 20, 2002
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Exotic and tasty eats at the Village Cafe

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An ode to metal-heads

Willie one lonely Manchu at the Forever Cafe

Musicians against suicide

Exotic and tasty eats at the Village Cafe

Village Cafe
715 Richmond St. N

Four stars (out of five)

By Megan O'Toole
Gazette Staff

Have you ever had a craving for citrus crusted mahi-mahi?

That's just one of many exotic dishes offered at Village Café and if you can get past the unconventional names, you'll discover each dish provides a unique, exciting taste experience.

Niru Somayajula/Gazette

The atmosphere in the restaurant is subdued, combining the simplicity of a European café and the cozy comfort of a neighbourhood diner. Ambient lighting sets a relaxing tone, while soft music and pleasantly scented candles add to the tranquil environment.

In addition, one side of the kitchen opens into the dining area, allowing customers to view the chef in action.

While the overall ambiance is pleasant, the bright red neon sign in the window seems out of place, detracting from the restaurant's atmosphere. In addition, the only bathroom is accessible via a narrow flight of stairs, posing a problem for physically-challenged patrons.

Diners can begin their meal by selecting from a short list of appetizers. Choices include traditional items like Caesar salad and soup of the day, along with a number of less conventional dishes like escargot in Sambucca cream.

The spicy apricot shrimp salad with almond brittle for $10.95 is a light, refreshing starter. It consists of a bed of crisp vegetables tossed in a fruity dressing and surrounded by spicy shrimp.

The succulent village portabello with spinach and goat cheese for $7.95 is cooked to perfection. Unlike many appetizers, the dish is not excessively filling and is an excellent prelude to the main course.

The selection of entrées is limited, as there are only 10 items to choose from. A vegetarian diner might be disappointed to find there is only one vegetarian dish offered amongst a wider range of seafood and meat dishes.

Each dish, however, is so remarkably unique and flavourful that the minimal selection is overshadowed by the exciting tastes.

The veggie linguine in Thai coconut curry cream for $13.95 is delicious. The sauce is somewhat bland, but the spicy, exotic vegetables compensate for this lack in flavour.

The citrus crusted mahi-mahi with fruit salsa and basmati rice is pricey at $19.95, but the sumptuous meal is worth the extra money. The sweetness of the fruit complements the spicy flavour of the rice, while the cold salsa provides a pleasant contrast to the cooked fish.

The Dijon-pecan encrusted chicken with maple sweet potato mash is reasonably priced at $16.95, as is the provimi calf's liver with smoky bacon cambazola mash and onions.

Along with the extravagant names, the presentation of the food is so elaborate the diner might hesitate to eat the food to avoid ruining the colourful displays.

For dessert, the waiter presents the menu verbally, describing several fresh and enticing treats.

The wild berry crumble pie for $6 is delectable, consisting of ripe berries covered by a sweet, crunchy crust. The pie is served at the perfect temperature and topped off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Also priced at $6, the orange chocolate mousse is thoroughly satisfying, serving as a sweet finale to the meal. It is accompanied by a clump of fresh raspberries and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Other popular desserts include the caramelized banana crumble and the chocolate B-52 cake.

Diners at Village Café can expect prompt, courteous service throughout the meal, as the wait staff tends efficiently to each customer's needs.

Though Village Café's prices may be excessive for a typical university student, the food value is excellent. The café is not an everyday eatery, but rather, an experience that should be enjoyed on special occasions.

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