*By Natalie Taylor*
Finding affordable yet healthy eats in Yorkville — one of Toronto’s fanciest neighbourhoods — can be a challenge. Luckily, Calii Love, the Californian fast-casual eatery and cafe, is making those options a little easier and accessible, thanks to its newest location at Cumberland and Bay. (Good eats near Bay Station? Check!)
Diners can find the same goodness that they have at their King Street location: the popular poké, grain and açai bowls; salads, smoothies, and coffee. As a special bonus, Calii Love’s resident latte artist, Brian Leonard (aka @baristabrian) is upping the artistry in the latte art scene. Specifically, he’ll create an image of your portrait mixed atop your foamy latte…
As a guest at Calii Love’s opening, I started with a beetroot latte topped with my portrait. Then we moved onto the smoothies, amongst them, the “Good” smoothie, a blend of banana, blackberry, blueberry, coconut milk and chia seeds. I was surprised by the smoothies. They’re thick and dense and pack an antioxidant punch. In the drinks department, Calii Love really meets the needs of health enthusiasts: not only do they serve over 7 different kinds of yummy smoothies with “spike it” additions like brain octane oils and collagen (!) but they also serve mate, açai juice and immune broths. I’m noting this because staying on top of good health is important due to Toronto’s ever-changing weather.
Onto the mains! The fun thing about Calii Love’s bowls is that they are named after different emotions so you can choose your meal based on how you’re feeling. The “Hopeful” salmon bowl on black rice delivers on a sweet and sour taste (avocado, wakame, sweet onions, pickled ginger) and a little kick, thanks to jalapeños and Sriracha aioli. It’s different and fulfilling. The “Grateful” bowl is a unique viewpoint on a vegetarian dish. Topped with tofu, green onion, spicy shoyu, edamame, avocado, nori, wasabi peas over zucchini and sweet potato noodles, it’s no wonder our group gobbled this one up!
Under the salad and grain bowls option, I ordered the “Festive” bowl. Filled with chicken, white rice, black beans, avocado. Topped with tortilla, salsa, and green onion, this dish lived up to its name, though I’d get the smaller portion next time! If you’re looking for a bowl of flavour, I’d get the “Cheerful” option filled with kale, roasted cauliflower, bulger, coffee pecans, dates, cumin tahini, mint and yellow beets. This dish had great texture and crunch to it.
The best thing about Calii Love, however, is its array of options. You literally can have any permutation of bowl you want by customizing your own bowl if you’re not into one of the items already on the menu. I also love that their produce is featured on the back wall: it feels just as fresh as their food, ready to go!
The casual space offers plenty of instagram-moments with its backdrop walls; one you might recognize from NYC: the “Bleeding Hearts” mural created by artist James Goldcrown. To boot, there’s an airy black and white palm print mural backdrop at the entrance created by Kayla Pongrac Design. Complete with a palm tree as you enter the space, you’ll feel that California vibe in no time!
A huge thanks to Calii Love for hosting us. As always, all reviews and opinions are our own.