Vegetarians win

On an unassuming uptown Waterloo street tucked away behind the Huether Hotel lies the mysteriously eclectic vegetarian restaurant Jane Bond. A waiter explained that the name draws inspiration from the fictional spy James Bond, with a feminist twist.

Dating back to the 1860s, the original building was built as a part of the Huether Hotel. Now, it shares part of the building with the Orange Monkey music shop. Owned by the same company as Starlight, a popular nearby music venue, every Thursday and Friday nights there are live music/DJ performances at Jane where guests can enjoy genres ranging from hip-hop to psychedelic while sipping on a selection of gluten-free cocktails and beers.

The restaurant interiors are heavily stylized with a retro feel; from the clashing of colours and proliferation of wall art, the decorations were positively camp, with a 1960s mod feel to it that had an intense sense of quirkiness. I particularly appreciated the stone feature wall along the side of one of the rooms that created a nice grounded and cozy feeling. The lights were dimmed to create a nightly ambience, however it was a little too dark and almost felt like the power had gone out. There is also a patio area available outside.

The service was great and I could see real teamwork between the servers as they laughed and chatted during the service. My waiter was incredibly friendly and giddy, easily making diners excited for their meals. He was really attentive in making my friend and I feel comfortable while quickly settling us down to order. He gave us a variety of suggestions and was careful in quelling my concern for lack of meat in any of the meals. I was impressed by their mindfulness in splitting equal ready-to-eat portions of our orders between us. The portions were incredibly generous, the plating neat and colourful.

The Watermelon Fizz cocktail is a gin-based cocktail that is refreshing and appetizing. The watermelon cubes add some chew to the drink, however the one I was served was under-carbonated and wasn’t cold enough.

Our waiter recommended the daily soup, cauliflower, to which I was pleasantly surprised at how fragrant it was. There was a nice, smooth, buttery texture and felt really filling. The gluten-free toasted ciabattas came as a side.

I’m an insane fan of quinoa, so the quinoa lentils salad was a no-brainer order for me. It came with bell peppers and pumpkin seeds in lemon tarragon vinaigrette. While the texture was crunchy and wet, I found it underwhelming and under-seasoned. I had to add a lot of sriracha for the flavours to really come out.

I looked forward to the coconut curry the most. It came with cauliflower, chickpeas, and peanuts over rice. As much as I wanted to love this, the curry was lukewarm when it came and the usual exotic aroma from curries was missing this time. The chickpeas were an honest effort as a complement but unfortunately the curry really made me miss the absence of meat.

There are various motivations behind one’s vegetarianism: health, religious, or a plain dislike for meat. I personally love meat and couldn’t possibly imagine going for more than a day without some lean protein. Besides being a little gassy afterwards, I felt significantly more energized, like a weight had been lifted from my body. Placebo effect or not, if I were ever forced into vegetarianism, I’d definitely come to Jane Bond; I’d come here again anyway.