Disclaimer: This meal was comped.
As much as we are bombarded nowadays with superfoods and their purported benefits, you don't really see an entire spot dedicated to one – and only one – of the bunch. Such was the idea behind Livia, a popup matcha bar within the Westmount location of the Ryu sushi group, which opened last year and was reviewed here.
The newcomer was banking on the popularity of the powdered green tea leaves, said to be rich in vitamins, fibers and antioxidants. The tea room would specialize in beverages with matcha as the central ingredient, from shots and lemonades to lattes and teas. Livia would eventually move this summer into its own downtown digs on Peel Street; replacing the Ryu branch there, which relocated a few steps away.
Although it occupies a tiny space, Livia carries a bright, airy feel thanks to its fully-glassed storefront and pale color palette. The zen vibe is made possible by a minimalist decor style making use of wood, marble and hanging gardens.
I showed up just past the lunch rush on this Thursday afternoon to find a half-full room; the crowd consisting of a mix of office workers along with a couple of solo patrons working on their laptops.
With the new address came a food menu, turning Livia into a café/eatery. For my first visit this fall, the offering consisted of breakfast toasts and bowls along with a selection of salads with a (mostly) Asian influence.
Today I was invited back to discover the winter additions, which include heartier bowls such as falafel and poke. In addition to the menu being colorful and healthy, there is a push for eco-responsibility and sustainability, following the Ryu model.
This frothy, layered lemonade is perfect for the matcha novice such as myself. The signature grassy/vegetal/sweet aroma is there but dissimulated behind the fresh ade.
One of the best renditions of this trendy dish featured sourdough topped with avocado, smoked salmon and micro cilantro then dressed with lemon/oil and togarashi.
The falafels were weak on cumin, but overall I enjoyed this salad-of-sorts. Hidden beneath baby spinach leaves and pita chips was a mound of quinoa, lentils and avocado cubes, with corn kernels and red chili slices adding some pop and heat.
Picture everything used in your favorite maki roll tossed in a bowl: tuna, avocado, cukes, sesame seeds and seaweed. Add wakame, julienned papaya, edamame and crispy noodles and you've got a fantastic poke packing a healthy, filling punch.
Livia has positioned itself as a great healthy/sustainable concept in our downtown core. The all-in-one-bowl proposition along with prompt service should be a boon for the pressed and conscious office or university crowd. Lunch aside, it also works as a casual hangout spot/café where one could kill an hour while sampling some matcha drinks.
Price per person: $20.50
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.