The Reveal – Mythology Diner

Chef Doug McNish (of Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen) was doing vegan, plant-based fare long before it was cool or mainstream. Now he’s creating diner classics without any meat, butter or other ingredients you believed were essential to making them taste good.

By Stephanie Dickison

[Feature photo courtesy of Mythology Diner]

The Gist

Chef Doug McNish (of Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen) was doing vegan, plant-based fare long before it was cool or mainstream.

Now he’s creating diner classics without any meat, butter or other ingredients you swore were essential. Say hello to captivating vegan fare that even staunch carnivores will fall for.

Grub

McNish is a master of manipulating and elevating seitan, tempeh and vegetables, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out as a meat-lover. And he does it all without smoke (literally) and mirrors. Slow simmered millet and French lentils create The Meatiest Veggie Loaf Platter Ever ($18), and medium-rare, char-grilled house-made seitan creates a close facsimile to a real NY Strip ($20).

There’s no “mock” anything. McNish is implementing the same fine French techniques he’s been using in restaurants for the last 20 years. And while there are a few salads and sides similar to what “regular” restaurants offer, the “meat” options are where his flair for mimicry without mockery will leave you in awe.

If you’ve been disappointed by vegan food up until now, that’s because it wasn’t in the deft hands of Doug McNish.

Libations

Bartender Ali Alzaidi sources “as much organic and local spirits as possible.” Syrups are made in-house and juices are fresh.

Cocktails ($12-$14) range from herbaceous (Rosemary Gin & Tonic $12) to tart (Whiskey Sour $12).

A short list of vino from across the globe are available by the glass ($10-$16) and bottle ($50-$75). Draft ($9-$10) and canned beer ($9-$11) are all local picks, including gluten-free lager ($9) and APA ($9).

A selection of tea, coffee, soft drinks and mocktails are also available.

Fixtures and Fittings

The former home of The Commodore got all new furniture featuring 100 per cent vegan faux leather.

Architect Jegan Vincent de Paul outfitted the space in classic diner colours – red, black and white – along with new chairs, stools and formica tables that look right out of a chock’lit shoppe from the ’50s.

Much like Doomie’s next door, the bathrooms were designed for selfies with Andy Warhol-esque cows and a manifesto of vegan myths.

Out in the dining room area, artwork continues with an animal loving theme, with a painting of The Last Supper reimagined with animals in the place of people, a goat’s head atop  the famous image of Marilyn Monroe in a billowing white dress over a grate, and the cover of Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Problably the most ’grammed image? The neon sign that reads, “Everything We Touch Turns to Vegan.”

Off the Menu

Hard n’ Hot Mulled Cider ($12, 1oz.)
You’re going to need a winter warm up this season. This one’s rich and smooth with in-house mulled Ontario apple cider, St. George’s Pear Liqueur, Stalk & Barrel Red Canadian Whisky, freshly poached pear, and cinnamon stick.

Moscow Mule ($12, 1oz.)
This traditional mule with a rosemary twist is the way to go. Vodka and ginger beer are sweetened with house-made rosemary and lemon agave syrup, and served over crushed ice.

Spicy Basil Mezcal Marg ($14, 1oz.)
Despite being smoky, this mezcal margarita with house-made spicy basil syrup and fresh lime juice, and finished with a smoked paprika rim, still refreshes.

No Bones About It French Onion Soup ($9)
Caramelized onion and thyme broth, thin yet fragrant, is blanketed with your choice of grilled sourdough or gluten-free croutons and house-made melted cashew mozzarella.

The Bloomer ($10)
Blooming onions always feel like a carnival treat whether you’re near a midway or not. And pulling off pieces of the oversized seasoned onion and dunking them in chipotle aioli? Just plain fun.

The Reubenator ($18)
The “meat” is shockingly close to corned beef. House-made seitan, shaved thin gets its bright pink colour from beet juice. Piled high on thick, well-toasted – almost burnt in places – light rye with Russian dressing, creamy cashew swiss and garnished with a pickle, it feels like the real thing, only incredibly light and without the grease or fat factor.

You won’t pass up the heavily seasoned, crispy, salty shoestring fries either. 

Alfredo Done Right ($17)
Portions here are generous, especially the Alfredo – there’s enough fettuccine for two - but it’s lighter than what you’re used to. Served with fresh peas, chopped parsley, cracked black pepper and a wedge of lemon, the real standout is the Portobello “flank” strips. Marinated, rubbed with Montreal steak spice, then grilled, these juicy, “meaty” slices are practically a carbon copy of the real thing, medium rare to boot.

Vienna Style Salisbury Steak ($17)
Between the texture, spice and flavour, it's a dead ringer for Salisbury steak. How could this possibly be fresh chickpeas, ground and seared until golden? There’s a choice of baked potato, creamy garlic mash, or fries – get the creamy mash (you’ll wish yours were this good). Served with a decadent mushroom gravy, firm peas and one halved carrot , green top and all, it’s perfection.

It’s a Tall Stack Cinnamon Bun ($16)
Pancakes for dinner are such a diner thing. And it turns out, damn good, too. McNish’s flapjacks made with red fife flour from Peterborough and cinnamon sugar swirl, are dense, yet not heavy, finished in crisp edges. Topped with house-made whipped cashew butter, pure maple syrup and two strips of crispy “bacon,” you feel like you’re getting pancakes and a cinnamon bun in one sitting. Win-win.

Deets

Mythology Diner accommodates 36 guests for dinner, drinks, late night and brunch on weekends starting January 1st. Note: no reservations.

At the Stove: Chef Doug McNish

Head Honchos: Hellenic Vincent De Paul, owner of The 5700 Inc. (Doomie’s Toronto, the Vegan Food & Drink Festival, Ecorazzi, The Imperative), Chef Doug McNish.

Map it: 1265 Queen St. W. (at Brock)

Visiting Hours:
Tuesday & Wednesday: 5:30 pm - 11 pm
Thursday: 5:30 pm - 12 am
Friday and Saturday: 5:30 pm - 1 am
Sunday: 5:30 pm - 11 pm

Phone it in: There’s no phone. Email instead at info@mythologydiner.com.

How Cool is This?! McNish makes everything in-house except for bread and ice cream, and is committed to both organic ingredients, as well as ensuring all soy products are non-GMO and organic.

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