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From Nuba Restaurant's kitchen in Gastown comes delicious Vegan Lebanese dishes worth visiting Vancouver for

You walk down into Nuba from a staircase at the corner of Hastings and Cambie. The concept is simple and clear, contemporary casual Lebanese.

As a vegetarian, I was pleased to see that much of the menu is not only vegetarian, but vegan. This makes sense, since so much traditional Lebanese food is vegan-friendly. For example, falafel, hummus, and baba ghanouj are all traditionally vegan dishes. Nuba, of course, offers them all. For me, the test of a place like this is the falafel and the hummus. In general, both were straight-forward. The hummus was maybe a bit one-dimensional, lacking many layers of flavour, while the falafel was flavourful, but a bit too beany in texture.

There were a number of nice surprises, though. For example, the eggplant stew was a minor revelation, a thick, sauce-like concoction (also vegan) served over a bed of brown rice. Most of their menu consists of mezze, which is a way of eating which is essentially like tapas for sharing and eating with pita bread, which they continue to replenish as you eat. With most of their mezze dishes, you get some of their house-made pickled cabbage, which was a consistent pleasure throughout the night.

They also feature a juice bar, which seemed popular. For the size of the kitchen, they actually offer a fairly extensive menu, and also offer a few non-vegetarian dishes, in case you're eating with someone who gets cranky if they're deprived of meat. In fact, the menu is overall well-constructed.

The problems with Nuba come at the level of details, and if you're the type who doesn't mind overlooking a few details, then you'll have no problem. Perhaps it's my overly-critical eye, but a few details leapt out at me. All in all, the service was so-so, although friendly, and the portions seemed a bit small for the price. Regardless, everyone at my table had a nice time. The atmosphere is comfortable (but for some reason it got very hot in the dining room by the time we left). It's the kind of place I would certainly suggest to bring a date, although perhaps not a place to frequent.

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