To the unaware local, Resto Végo's buffet of 237 rotating dishes might seem like a new player on the Montreal vegetarian restaurant scene, having opened its doors on St. Denis Street back in January 2014.
But the chain's roots spread deep, as far back as 1977 when it opened its first all-veg eatery under its original brand name, Le Commensal, a big deal at the time since vegetarianism was only beginning to rear its head in the North American mainstream.
Thirtysome years later, what was a single locale on St. Denis in the heart of Montreal's Latin Quarter grew into a Quebec vegetarian icon offering its ready-to-eat products --soups, pizza, stir-fried seitan and tofu-- in supermarkets and health food stores across the province as well as in select stores in Ontario. The restaurant also multiplied locations, spreading to downtown Montreal, Quebec City, Boisbriand and even Toronto.
Le Commensal's Downfall? Meat
But in a bid to increase business, Le Commensal took a risky route in the fall of 2012. First the time in the vegetarian brand's history, a flexitarian angle was proposed, with chicken, crab and shrimp dishes added to traditionally all-vegetarian restaurant menu, a potentially fatal blow to the business. According to president Pierre Marc Tremblay, the strategy at once attracted new customers but put off regulars. Just a few months after implementing the flexitarian menu, Le Commensal was on the verge of bankruptcy, forced to close its three restaurants outside of Montreal.
Resto Végo: The New Face of Le Commensal
Having lived and learned, January 29, 2014 marked a new day for the veggie icon, with management not only removing all traces of seafood and meat from its menu, but rebranding its two Montreal restaurants Resto Végo courtesy of its two locations branching off from the chain altogether.
Resto Végo: Menu
Le Commensal may have changed names but its original concept remains the same, that of a vegetarian self-serve buffet featuring over 200 choices on rotation --usually 50 options are available at any given time-- including its popular vegetarian lasagna, ginger tofu and Asian style seitan dishes.
Composed of three sections, Resto Végo offers a hot buffet, a salad buffet and a dessert buffet. Special dietary needs are covered, including dishes suitable for vegan and gluten-free diets.
Resto Végo: Maximum Price Policy & No Tips
Having gotten flak over its prices in years past, it seems restaurant (and food truck) prices across the city have caught up with the veggie chain, all things considered. On topic, it pays off to have a big appetite at resto Végo since there's a maximum price cap per person. As long as what you pile on your plate does not exceed 1kg (2.2 lbs), you will never pay more than $14.50 plus taxes per person during lunch hours and not more than $17.50 plus taxes per person in the evening. Kids ages 10 and under pay $6.95.
Fruit bowls and dessert cost extra. Note that no tips are required since Resto Végo is a self-service buffet.
Resto Végo: Dress Code
Wear whatever. Like most Montreal vegetarian restaurants, Resto Végo is very casual.
Resto Végo: Crowd
Expect anyone. I mean, it's not exactly a see-and-be-seen kind of milieu. No pretension nor posturing here.
Resto Végo: Special Events?
Not really, albeit occasionally.
Resto Végo: To Make Reservations
No reservations necessary.
Resto Végo: Business Hours
The Latin Quarter location (St. Denis at Ontario) is open Sunday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Operating hours may change without notice.
1720 St. Denis, corner of Ontario, Montreal, QC H2X 3K6
Getting there: Berri-UQAM Metro
MAP & Contact Info
Note that prices and operating hours may change without notice.