You occasionally hear about places that sound too good to be true. And then you finally go and you leave just a little disappointed, a little heartbroken.
Not at Camros Organic Eatery.
You will actually feel so inspired that you will tell everyone you know.
Camros Organic Eatery is a very tiny, but bright causal 10-seat restaurant that mostly does take out. But like nothing you've ever experienced before.
After all, this is 100% organic food. Traditional, aromatic Persian food a
t that. And not only is it organic, but it is vegetarian and wheat, soy, dairy, and meat free, so if you have certain dietary restrictions, Camros is what you'll soon be calling your second home.
Established since April 2006, Camros has been serving organic food from what they call "reputable, well-known suppliers of certified organic foods." And in fact, they list both in their restaurant and their website their suppliers so that you can purchase from them as well. There's Joe the organic farmer, Vitold the organic farmer, etc.
This is the most "green" restaurant you'll probably frequent. There is a sign asking you not to take too many napkins, and the containers and cutlery 100% biodegradable, which are much more expensive for them to purchase than plastic ones, but they believe it is better for us and the earth.
The space is light and clean with lots of blonde wood and good vibes. And in case you're not savvy in vegetarian or Persian cuisine or you're unfamiliar with green culture, don't worry. The lovely staff behind the counter will help. Atissa Mossanen was a customer first and now is one of a few behind the counter many days a week. She warmly explained everything to me and it's clear that she is a favourite face among the regulars.
Mojdeh Shams owns Camros and prepares the menu and meals, but more than that, she is the spirit of the place.
She tells me that money is not the utmost concern.
"At this stage, we prefer to do what it is good for the air, environment and people's health and what we believe in."
She came to the organic way of life after she and her family experienced some health problems. With the change in diet and way of life came healing.
"We changed all the cleaning products - everything. We bought a filter for the water - even for the shower."
The changes brought good health and that's what they promote here.
"We wanted whole food, so we put aside all the white sugar, rice, and processed foods and switched to gluten-free grains and lots of vegetables. My son got rid of his pain and my husband lost 10 pounds."
And though it is good, clean food, you may be picturing bland or tasteless fare. No way. This stuff is amazing. So incredible in fact, that a group of nurses from North York come down on the subway to pick up lunch and take back and while I'm at the restaurant, a woman has driven about an hour out of her way - in rush hour traffic, no less - to pick up dinner.
And in fact, when I arrive at 6 o'clock, many of their dishes have sold out. In particular, their famous rice balls, but apparently most things sell out at 5 pm, so be sure to get in as early as you can to get the full selection. I have what is left and go back right when they open for lunch a couple of weeks later to make sure that I can try out a few different things.
There are main dishes and salads, which change daily, which as Mojdeh says "There's always something to come back for."
Their grains that include quinoa and brown basmati and everything is cooked in filtered water and made fresh.
There are organic drinks and desserts on hand as well.
You purchase your meal as a combo - 2, 3 or 4 items. 4 items are only $8.99 plus tax, which is a great deal for the amount of food you get (lots) and the amount of work and love that goes into it (tons).
I have 4 items of what is left at the end of the day - Adas Polo which is the traditional Persian cinnamon/raisin rice, tender chick pea stew, quinoa salad, kale salad with creamy tahini and zesty lemon dressings.
The meal is extraordinarily filling but not in an unpleasant way. I feel clean and refreshed after eating, which is not a common occurrence.
The aroma of saffron lifts me and the food is pleasantly spiced without being overpowering. The rice, with lentils, raisins, onion and cumin is hearty and comforting, while the quinoa salad is lively with green onion, parsley and fresh lemon juice.
The kale salad is something of a cult item with patrons here and I can see why. She has made the leaves soft somehow and buoyant with freshness and flavour. The addition of beets makes it a perfect ten and when I return for lunch, I can't help but get it again.
The chick pea stew is soft and understated, but when I come for lunch, I find my new favourite stew - Celery. The flavour of this underrated vegetable comes through in fresh, green notes and the Golden rice balls - made with basmati brown rice, yellow lentils, raisins and walnuts, among other things - are satisfying but quite subdued.
This place is not for everyone as the dishes are not at all spicy and the seasonings are very subtle. But if you are looking for food that is good for you and made with tenderness, this is the place for you.