There are very few eating establishments which I can walk out of after gorging myself and feel fresh and revived, but this place is one of them. The Green Panther is an oasis of life, health and vibrancy in the chaotic urban jungle. The green shop front, fringed with florid hanging plants, is a vivid beacon on Saint Viateur amidst the stone and brick streetscape and immediately welcomes you. Inside, the verdant fluorescence has engulfed the artfully decorated walls, mismatched vintage furniture and leafy flower pots.
This is a place that not only looks green, but also thinks and eats green too. Bar a couple of items, all produce is organic and, when possible during the warmer months, is sourced locally. All takeout packaging is recyclable and delivery panthers peddle rather than pollute. When we enter, the store is pleasantly alive with the chatter of the lunch time rush and the intermittent whirr of fruits being pummeled into juice.
Speaking of which, let’s get down to the edibles. To drink, our cheerful pantherette, Kerri, recommends the popular ABC – apple, beetroot, carrot – which arrives as a magenta vision in a glass and tastes like sweet, cleansing tonic with every sip. It really is a wonderful thing that completely natural produce can produce such vibrant shades. My eating companion’s Carburant Vert (Green Fuel) – kale, celery, cucumber and apple – well, it matches the lurid décor and sure packs a veggie punch!
Those who know about the Green Panther know it’s their famed falafel that attracts the store’s loyal following. As a falafel devotee myself, I’ve tasted the golden chickpea balls in many corners of the globe and take the task of falafel sampling very seriously. And these…phew, they did not disappoint. For me, the key to a good falafel is a crisp, freshly fried outside, generous and multi-layered spice taste and finally, and arguably most important – a moist centre. Three ticks and we have a winner.
Kerri tells me that whilst several staff members know how to make the falafel mixture, the owner, an Israeli local, keeps the spice mix under wraps. Five balls stuffed with house-made sauerkraut, cabbage, carrot, pickles, sprouts and tahini sauce in a superbly fresh wholewheat pita make it a steal at $6 a pop. If that wasn’t enough to sell you, then try the pita with tempeh, tofu or veggie pattie.
The ample salad plates – in small or large depending on your appetite – allow you to sample all potted veggie creations in the front counter, garnished with seeds, sauce and crunchy croutons. Also on the menu is soup, flavours change daily, and barbequed tofu.
You can even bring home the green jungle magic. House-made granola, jarred soups and mustards, veggie patties and soy kefir are sold on-site, and the store claims to have the best value selection of Prana organic snack foods in town. If you can’t get out of the office, the Green Panther also offers a delivery service for the Plateau and Mile End – in fact, this is how the whole operation began – otherwise drop in to the store and grab a seat or takeout.
No matter how much you eat, you leave the Green Panther feeling as though you’ve done your body a favour. Nourishing, tasty and lacking any nasties, this tucker just plain makes you feel good. Stepping outside the green oasis onto the city street, I’m donning a smile and ready to face the urban jungle. At least, that is, until I can get my next falafel fix.
The Green Panther
66 rue St-Viateur Ouest
Montreal, QC H2T 2K8
(514) 903 7770
Nearest metro station: Laurier
and now also prowling at
2153 Rue Mackay
Montreal, QC H3G 2J2
(514) 903 4744
Nearest metro station: Guy-Concordia