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Credit: Chomp Vegan Eatery

Both food and art are on the menu at this vegan restaurant in Port Moody

Chomp's community vibe brings both vegans and artists together in a living room-like setting

According to Chomp Vegan Eatery owner Vanessa Mills, it is common for a passerby to give a double take or even press their nose against the soaring glass windows of her restaurant before stepping across the threshold for the first time.

At a glance, the edgy, tattooed staff, eclectic interior design and independent coffee shop atmosphere seem like something you might find in Vancouver’s West End rather than suburban Port Moody.

"I am passionate about veganism," says Mills, who does not serve food made with animal products, including eggs, cheese or honey. "It is a lifestyle. I wanted to create a restaurant that would bring the community together while providing an alternative to dining out downtown."

Part restaurant, part store and part art gallery, the space is designed as a place to linger.

Port Moody's Newest Hangout

Heather-Mills.jpgMills, who has an extensive food service background but no formal design training, decorated the interior herself.

The restaurateur started with a vintage palette of teal blue, cherry red and white inspired by images culled from Pinterest and wedding magazines. She then combed Craigslist and area thrift stores for mismatched chairs and tables that she refinished herself.

The tall, narrow space was painted a warm white, and honey-coloured wood flooring and display cabinets were installed. A child’s play area, complete with miniature table, rocking horse and books, was placed in a corner of the restaurant.

The whimsical decor includes a bathroom feature wall lined with empty, vintage picture frames painted in shades of teal, red or white. The words "you are beautiful . . ." are scrawled across the bottom of the bathroom mirror in red chalk pen.

In keeping with the community vibe of the space, Mills displays and sells artwork and merchandise from local artists on a rotating basis. In return, the artists are required to give a percentage of sales to a charity of their choice.

Chomp's Menu

When it comes to the menu, Mills has created healthy comfort fare such as poutine made with a dark, vegetable-based gravy, and loaded nachos topped with cheese made from tapioca flour, coconut oil and safflower oil.

Mills estimates that almost half of her clientele is vegan. The rest are drawn to the restaurant because it is gluten-free or simply because it is unique.

Says Mills: "We are not a restaurant you get rushed out of. I want it to feel like a living room."

Signature Dish: Chomp Sliders. These mini, white-bean burgers smothered in creamy Chomp sauce and sandwiched between sweet potato and white agave buns are a customer favourite. $11.22

S’mores Please: Chomp carries a range of gluten-free, vegan products including Dandies Vegan Marshmallows. The marshmallows are gelatin-free, but can be melted and catch fire like the real thing. $4.99

Local Artisan: Chomp showcases a variety of artwork and handicrafts by community artists such as jewelry designer Dominique Dube. The Port Moody resident’s dangly jewelry is made of silver and copper wire and features semi-precious stones like agate and amethyst. $15 - $40

#7-201 Morrissey Rd., Port Moody, 604-917-0201

Originally published in BC Home & Garden magazine. For regular updates, subscribe to our free Home and Garden e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the magazine.