This post is part of Kitchissippi Favourites, a series of sponsored profiles about some great local businesses. You can find them all in the November 12 issue of KT.
With 15 years of running The Table vegetarian restaurant under his belt, owner Simon Saab has certainly seen some changes in the industry. For starters, vegetarian food has gone much more mainstream.
“When we opened up, 80% of our clientele were women, and it’s still the majority. But now you see the demographics from 15 years ago to today have really changed,” Saab explains. “It’s a full mix – young, old, men, women – and it’s not all vegetarians who come in here, it’s people who just want to mix it up.”
It’s easy to see why The Table’s menu has broad appeal. Head Chef Ian Lipski, who has been the man behind their dishes since day one, keeps things fresh and tasty by cooking all food for their main buffet from scratch every day. Ingredients are locally sourced and organic whenever seasons and availability allow, which means plenty of divine new smells and flavours at every visit.
In addition to a base set of favourites, new entrees, salads, and desserts appear on the menu every seven to ten days – and at this time of year, that means lots of cozy comfort food from a heavier fall menu. There’s everything from squash tarragon – made from the last of the local produce – to Mexican lentils to their famous tofu fritters served with a variety of sauces (recommended: their very own onion chutney). It’s almost an afterthought to say that everything in the main buffet is vegan in addition to being delicious.
What gave Saab the idea to start such a forward-thinking business at a time when vegetarian food was more offbeat? “My background has been vegetarian, and wholesome, natural cooked food,” says Saab. “Why take a chance on vegetarian 15 years ago? I just felt there was the need for it. There was nothing else like it.”
Saab continues to push the envelope these days with the impressive selection of gluten-free foods available at The Table. At their main buffet, most dishes are gluten free, but where you’ll really find your cravings satisfied is in their take-out section. There’s a wide variety of gluten-free vegan pot pies, soups, and sweet treats packed and ready to go – plus a fantastic vegetarian GF macaroni and cheese that’s almost too good to be true. The take-out section appeals to both locals looking for a quick dinner idea and those with special diets from across the city, and it’s sure to grow even more in popularity with the addition in the new year of juices and smoothies.
The Table isn’t just about filling stomachs – it’s about warming hearts, too. Saab is well-known for his generous spirit, kindness, and community involvement. He’ll soon be planning his annual New Year’s Day luncheon, when the restaurant opens at noon for two hours of free meals for Ottawa’s less fortunate; the event draws people from all corners of the capital region. He’s a major sponsor behind local foodie events like Ottawa Veg Fest in May. Saab also supports Ottawa-area artists with original paintings hung gallery style on the walls – available for sale to diners who like what they see.
In the end, though, it all comes back to the food. The restaurant’s philosophy of creating home-cooked meals in their kitchen daily has created a community gathering place with real staying power. Says Saab, “I’m always a firm believer in eating whatever you want, as long as it’s fresh, organic, local, and it’s without preservatives, and to come to The Table, you’re getting all of those.”
He adds, “We’re looking forward to the next 15 years,” and indeed, so are the lucky diners of Kitchissippi.
1230 Wellington St. W.
Ph | 613.729.5973