Friday, October 4, 2013

Page 5


thegazette • Friday, October 4, 2013

Offering a local alternative on campus Mary Ann Ciosk Arts & Life Editor Entering the Green Leaf Café in Sommerville House is like stepping into another world — the casually chic atmosphere is complete with vases of apples and oranges, live moss centerpieces on the tables, and dried flowers and herbs decorating the walls. The soft lighting and quiet music lend to the café’s unique feel and freshly prepared gourmet dishes tantalize the taste buds. Compare this scene to the cafeteria in the University Community Centre — students packed into the small seating area which is inevitably covered in food residue, chowing down on pizza and Chinese food at a noise level just barely below the volume requiring hearing protection. How is it that Green Leaf Café can exist a mere two minute walk away from this feeding frenzy? Nicole Prendergast, supervisor at Great Hall Catering and Green Leaf Café, concedes that it has been a challenge to make the presence of the café known to students. “The only time students would find us before it’d be like they’d fallen down the rabbit hole — ‘Where am I, are we allowed to eat here?’” Prendergast says, imitating the students. Green Leaf Café was previously Michael’s — an upscale diner primarily used for business meetings and faculty lunches. Although the restaurant was open to students, few would frequent it. The previous chef, for whom the restaurant was named, retired last year, providing the opportunity for management to go in a new direction with the space. “We wanted to open it up to the campus and make the room more inviting. You don’t have to come in with a suit and tie necessarily. We also wanted to come up with something that reflected sustainability and supported the local businesses

Gazette tested As a vegan, going to an all-you-caneat buffet is generally a waste of time and money. Despite my reservations, however, I went to Green Leaf Café and was incredibly impressed. The chef specially prepared a stack of grilled eggplant and vegetables with tomato sauce for me and I binged on several different salads, amazing mulligatawny soup, and little sweet potato corn patties. Not only was there enough for me to leave absolutely stuffed, but also the food was unique and delicious with many healthy options.

— Mary Ann Ciosk


TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF. Great Hall Catering Supervisor Nicole Prendergast and Great Hall Chef Rob McGlaughlin present the new Green Leaf restaurant — an on-campus buffet restaurant that features local produce and décor.

in town,” Rob McLaughlin, head chef at Green Leaf, says. Buying local as much as possible is a goal of the café which McLaughlin and Prendergast vehemently support. “If you’re not taking it from another country then you’re definitely cutting down on the travel costs and you’re promoting Canadian goods. We’re reducing the carbon footprint. Not always can you get everything from local sources but we do our best,” McLaughlin comments. “There are certain fruits and vegetables that you can’t get around here, and some things are out of season that are local, like strawberries and melon. But we still try — the pies come from Petite Paris where they use local flour and the fruit has been bought all local and frozen [for use in the winter].” Even the furniture in Green Leaf is made from Canadian wood and produced locally, and London’s own Fire Roasted Coffee is the supplier

Logan Ly Gazette

for the café. In its second year now, Green Leaf Café also has a rooftop garden used primarily for growing herbs. A subsidiary of the Great Hall catering, Green Leaf Café has an award-winning staff of gourmet chefs. “Great Hall catering is five-star cuisine, so we bring that here in a more casual way,” says Prendergast. “There’s not really a set routine. This year we have interactive pasta cuisine on Tuesdays so certain things are firmed up, but the rest of the time it’s whatever the chefs want — they get an outline of what they’re working with based on what’s local and what’s popular but the chefs have the freedom to come up with their own ideas,” McLaughlin adds. For those with vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free and/or with extensive allergy restrictions, have no fear — Green Leaf has it all covered. “If we have knowledge ahead

of time of people coming in with dietary restrictions we can make the buffet really accommodating for them. Our chefs are really great for that. We definitely make everybody happy — I’ve never had anyone leave saying ‘I couldn’t find anything to eat,’” Prendergast says. “We’ve had days where the entire menu is vegan and gluten-free except for one meat protein — and it just happens coincidentally.” Green Leaf Café provides absolutely delicious food, and $15 for a gourmet all-you-can-eat buffet is certainly the best deal on campus. For those still reluctant about the price, Mondays have a buy-oneget-one-half-off promotion, ideal for a mid-day meal with a friend. Check out Green Leaf Café to save money, support local businesses, and be healthy. Green Leaf Café is open 11:30-2 p.m. Monday to Friday, Room 3340 in Somerville House. Reservations are recommended.

The Green Leaf Cafe’s ambiance transported me out of my ordinary UCC Centre Spot experience and into one unlike any on Western’s campus. Tuesday was a pasta day, so apart from just the buffet’s large variety of breads, salads, and soups — one which is always vegetarian, gluten and lactose-free — and main entrees, we had the option of building our own pasta dish with options to add asparagus, mushrooms and more. I finished off the meal with a beautifully crafted pumpkin crème brulee and walked out paying for a meal that tasted like it was worth much more.

— Naira Ahmed Being the only meat-eater among our crew, I got to partake in some of Green Leaf’s non-vegetarian options. The white-wine chicken was a solid and tasty selection, however, Green Leaf excels at its vegetarian options. Potato salad and sweet potato cakes with chipotle mayonnaise were highlights of the buffet when we went. Featuring local, fresh Ontario product and veggies from their own garden make Green Leaf a vegetarian’s dream and the only place on campus anyone should ever want to eat.

— Brent Holmes