I apologize in advance if this blog post is a bit boring – but I wanted to get it out before Wednesday.
Why? Because Mambo features its new vegetarian/vegan menu on Wednesdays, and I want everyone to have advance notice in case they want to go.
So here’s the scoop…
Mambo is a Latin-fusion restaurant in the Byward Market. With its duskily romantic atmosphere, it’s probably the last place on earth where I’d expect to find vegan poutine.
But there is was: item #7 on Mambo’s new vegetarian/vegan menu. The NCVA had been invited to sample said menu, and I, as the organization’s restaurant outreach coordinator and avid fan of free food, finally made it out last Wednesday.
Upon arrival, I was equally enthused by the rooftop patio as by the words “vegan menu” smiling up from Mambo’s sandwich board. We were greeted by Claira, Mambo’s promotions manager, who had arranged for us to sample four of their vegan appetizers.
As we waited for them to arrive, we chatted with Claira about Mambo’s new menu over cold beer and a pleasantly surprising bowl of kettle-cooked popcorn. Mambo’s sister restaurant, Kinki, has offered veg fare on Wednesdays for more than two years, and they are hoping to repeat that success at Mambo.
The first dish to arrive was the salad. I was very pleased to find it heaping with candied nuts and a massive poached pear whose taste prompted me to issue a short prayer to God explaining that this is what fruit is supposed to taste like, and that if he’d just make it like that right out of the box, people would eat it more.
Next came the “Gringos” tacos, a tasty and unique sautéed veggie and pineapple mixture atop home-made taco shells.
Hard on their heels came an explosively colorful plate of nachos. Sprinkled with vegan cheese, amped up by a riotous pico de gallo and washed down with a sip of draft, they were pretty much heaven. And if they could have talked, they’d have insisted on being eaten on the patio, snow be damned.
But of course the star of the night was the vegan poutine. The mushroom gravy was second-to-none and the potatoes – roasted , I think, rather than fried – were, were….well, description is failing me- but they were gone really fast, which pretty much says it all.
The only flaw in Mambo’s veggie/vegan menu was that it’s not altogether obvious what’s veggie, what’s vegan, and what’s veggie but can be made vegan on request. So be prepared for a minor Q&A session when you order. On the plus side, I called the issue to Claira’s attention and she’s going to try to figure out a more explicit labeling system.
So there you have it. Vegan Wednesdays at Mambo. Off you go.