I feel pretty lucky to work in West Queen West. New restaurants, stores, and bakeries are popping up like mushrooms yet it still has a cool, neighbourhood vibe. One of my go-to places lately has been Bolt Fresh Bar, just west of The Drake Hotel. This clean-eating outpost opened earlier this year and it’s been attracting local health enthusiasts since.
I can’t complain about the food choices around the office – there’s pizza, burritos, poutine and even the all-too-familiar foot-long sandwich. But those bring the inevitable post-lunch blahs that don’t make for a very productive afternoon. Once in a while I need nutrient-dense dishes. That’s why Bolt is such a great alternative, and not just for lunch. Actually, it works for all the day’s meals.
I admit, I’m not big on exercise. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I saw an inside of a gym…other then looking at the amenities of a condo building with clients. I don’t run…unless someone’s chasing me, and I’m not interested in losing weight. But the thing I am big on is eating healthy and understanding how food affects our body’s ability to heal itself. Unfortunately there still aren’t too many places in Toronto that offer healthy pick-up-and-go food options. That’s why I’m glad Bolt is around. Clearly the demand is there because Bolt is always busy with customers lining up for smoothies, juices or salads and grain bowls.
By now, I’ve got my favourites, and I’m not kidding when I say you can take care of all three meals of the day there. I would start with the Açaí Bowl, particularly the Power Bowl, which is the perfect alternative to yogurt. It’s even a fun option for dessert. It’s granola covered in bananas, berries, pineapple, mango, coconut milk, shredded coconut agave and whipped coconut. The whipped coconut is divine. If you prefer to start your day with a smoothie, you must try the Almond Delight (above). It’s rich and just sweet enough, with almond butter, banana, cinnamon, vanilla extract, maca root, almond milk and maple syrup. All together it makes for malty, bitter and sweet flavour.
Smoothies are not always my thing, but cold pressed juices I could drink everyday. Bolt’s pressed juices are superb, straightforward yet revitalizing and I have my favourites. The Green Pineapple is mixed with cucumber, celery, lemon, spinach and kale. It’s very refreshing, especially on a warm and sunny day. The Refresher is a light and bubbly number with cucumber, romaine, celery, and ginger and green apple to give you more alkaline mileage. But my all time go-to is the Beet juice (below). It’s a pleasant concoction of bosc pear, apple, meyer lemon and ginger.
If you’re looking for something more substantial, try the salad bowl or the grain bowl. Try one of the salads from the menu like the Massaged Kale salad full of nutrients, with shredded carrot, mango, and avocado oil. This option goes down nicely with Toronto-breweded kombuchas and kefir waters in apothecary-style bottles chilling in a 120-year-old antique walk-in cooler and display case. If you’re looking for something with protein, try a Grain Bowl. A stand out for me is the Protein Bowl, crammed with brown rice, supple tofu, bean mixture, cherry tomato, butternut squash, pepita and crunchy sprouts, with a sidecar of carrot miso dressing. The good thing about the bowls (salad or grain) is that you can design your own. Choose your own grain or greens and up to 5 toppings, or mix it up with half-and-half salad and grain. The portions are quite generous. A few times I had half of the Protein Bowl for lunch, and took home the rest to finish off for dinner.
Just in time for fall and those gloomy winter days, Bolt also offers stews and soups. The stews are served on a bed of grains to make it an even healthier meal. I haven’t tried the soups or stews as yet but I’m looking forward to trying a few bowls this season.
This take-out spot has enough vintage charm to fit right in with the neighbourhood. The service is fast and pleasant and the prices are quite reasonable considering the quality of food and servings. Nothing over $10, smoothies are between $7 and $9 depending on the ingredients, and juices are about $7. If you’re in the area and looking for a healthier option, this is a great spot. It’s also a place to consider if you’re thinking of doing a juice cleanse or another type of detox.