Toronto Tailor-made for Shoestring Budgets

Having lived in London and spent time in many of the World’s largest cities, I can honestly say that I have found nowhere as accessible as Toronto for quality cheap or next to nothing entertainment.
This list is by no means exhaustive and I will add as I learn more.
Knock yourself Out!

Theatre & Comedy
National Theatre of the World – look out for NTOW’s Baram and Sniekus who practice their particular brand of improvised comedy all over Toronto but can often be found on Friday evenings at the John Candy Theatre (Second City training theatre) on Peter Street – Pwyc
http://www.thenationaltheatreoftheworld.com

Shakespeare in the Ruff puts on amazing Shakespeare adaptations every summer in Withrow Park
Pwyc
http://www.shakespeareintheruff.com

Same goes for Canadian Stage’s High Park Shakespeare Productions running June 26 through to September 1.
http://www.canadianstage.com

Jazz & Blues
The following primarily operate on a tip- jar payment system so essentially pwyc
Gate 403
http://www.gate403.com

The Rex Hotel
http://www.therex.ca

The Winchester Kitchen
http://www.winchesterkitchen.com

The Monarch Pub at the Eaton Chelsea pub has music – jazz and blues every night. No cover
See website for details
http://www.monarchspub.ca

Play
Want to play a board game, do a jigsaw, play pinball on a vintage machine, draw something?
Unlike many of other “Board Game cafes” 3030 does not charge a cover for you to exercise your creativity – help yourself on first-come first-serve basis. Just buy a drink or two and your evening’s entertainment is sorted for the price of that drink
http://www.3030dundaswest.com

For $7 return take a Ferry over to Toronto Islands.
Ward and Algonquin Island for boardwalk cute cottage community and gardens, Hanlan’s Point for beaches and shady dappled trails. Centre Island for Amusement Park/Bike hire, pier, busy kid friendly beaches etc.
TIP: The best way to avoid the enormous queues in the summer and if there are a few of you likely to be visiting the Islands a couple of times a year. Buy a string of 10 tickets for $63 and march straight through the lines and onto the ferry.

Food
Summerlicious and Winterlicious foodie events ensure that the most cash strapped amongst us can enjoy a slap-up meal in a host of Toronto’s more high-end restaurant.
lunch is best value with a fixed price
menu for generally $25 for 2/3 courses and dinner more expensive at $35/$40.

Art/Museums
Visit the AGO for free on Wednesday evenings after 5pm
http://www.ago.net

Visit the ROM at a reduced price on Friday nights after 4pm
http://www.rom.on.ca

Ripleys Aquarium
If you live in town and you love Aquariums then the most cost effective way of visiting again and again is to buy an annual membership for $100
Whilst this is hardly “shoestring ” speak; when you consider that the cost of an individual ticket is almost $40 – you do the math…..
Subscribe to their newsletter too as they frequently have deals for students…

Hart House offers free tours of their eclectic art collection – check website
http://www.harthouse.ca

Go for an Art Gallery crawl along Tecumseth Street or Queen Street West – many gallery owners are happy to show interested parties around the work they are profiling in their spaces.

Last but not least sign up for Groupon, Buytopia, Yipit and Travel zoo to get huge discounts and deals on local restaurants , museums and experiences ( and of course products)

Over and Out

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Get out of Toronto for the day – 10 Unforgettably Unusual ideas for a getaway – Part 1

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Toronto is the best in terms of the diverse nature of entertainment and culture available within its realms; but traveling just a few hours outside opens up a whole “other” world of unusual possibilities.
All of the following are experiences you can only have outside the city: many afford the opportunity to make a weekend of it

#1
Hot Air Ballooning
Up, up and away with Sundance Balloons, and see the gorgeous Lake Simcoe area of Ontario from a different perspective. Hop into your wicker “gondola”, spend a tranquil hour silently floating over the countryside below and then celebrate your return to earth with one Ballooning’s oldest traditions – a Champagne toast http://www.sundanceballoons.com

#2
Warplane Heritage Museum
Reach for the skies and take a ride in a WW2 warplane. Choose from a Douglas Dakota or a de Havilland Tiger Moth bi wing
at the bottom end of the price spectrum to the chance to fly in the worlds last passenger carrying “Dam-Busting WW2 Lancaster
http://www.warplane.com

#3
St Jacobs Mennonite Story – St Jacobs Ontario
Tuck yourself into the heart of Mennonite -country at the “St Jacobs Mennonite Story” and learn about the fascinating culture of both the Mennonites and the Amish that occupy this part of Ontario. Look out for the ubiquitous black horse drawn cabs that dominate the country lanes round these parts.http://www.stjacobs.com/mennonite-story

#4
Dundern Castle in Hamilton
Immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere of a 1830,s “Castle”. Once the dynamic home to Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir Allan McNab (and erstwhile ancestor of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and wife to Prince Charles), the clock has been stopped at a time somewhere in the early 1800’s as the house and docent interpreters are “dressed” to represent this historic mansion during its Regency heyday. Christmas is a great time to visit as the house lends itself beautifully to the annual “Victorian Christmas” event.
http://www.dundurn.com

#5
Bell Homestead
Not many people realize that this unassuming white Ontarian house was backdrop to the events leading up to one of the scientific breakthroughs that would reshape History. This was the home of Alexander Graham Bell; the home where he breathed life into his ideas for a “speaking telegraph and the original home of Canadian Telephone operations in 1880.
http://www.bellhomestead.ca

#6
Encaustic Workshop at the beautiful Alton Mills Art Studio
Create amazing tactile artwork at “The Hive” in the stunning Alton Mills Art Studio. Encaustic media is a melted down melange of delicious Beeswax and oil paint. “The Hive” at Alton Mills offers half day and day workshops from beginner to advanced levels with all sorts of variations between.

#7
Collingwood’s Elvis Festival
The king of Rock and Roll may be dead (or is he?) but his spirit is alive and kicking at the annual Collingwood Elvis Festival
“Long live the King”
(http://www.collingwoodelvisfestival.com/)”

#8
From the Bard to “The Biebs”
Everybody knows that Stratford Ontario is famous for its Shakespeare Festival but did you know that you can walk in the footsteps of Ontario’s pop sensation “Justin Bieber” – literally.
This ingenious Justin Bieber Tour of Stratford utilizes a specially created map detailing all his favourite childhood haunts: his favourite ice cream parlour; the schools he went to and the place he took his first date
(http://www.visitstratford.ca/justin/justin-bieber.html)

#9
Tour the Spirit Tree Cidery
Ontario is blessed with scores of great wineries but how about watching a cider press in operation and tasting samples of both hard and sweet cider in the Spirit Tree’s tasting room. Pair your cider sipping with a home baked treat fresh from the wood burning oven.
(http://www.spirittreecider.com/)

#10
Visit Ontario’s Badlands
French trappers called these “les mauvaises terres à traverser” – “the bad lands to cross” and that just about sums up the characteristics of
The Cheltenham Badlands with its
steep slopes and gullies of alternating shale and clay, forming massive spectacularly coloured (red and green) undulating rock striations.
Located on the Niagara Escarpment and by default a part of the Bruce Trail.

Part 2 of this article in a few weeks Enjoy….

Cottage Country in The City – Toronto Islands

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Knocking on the front door of the downtown city core is Toronto’s secret garden – a small cluster of islands, just over a kilometer across the harbour.

Bring your visitors…

Bring your kids, your bikes, your dog, a picnic, your bathing suit or just yourself.

No Bike? – hire one at the pier on Centre Island

No picnic? – a couple of places you can buy decent nosh on the islands: see below

No swimming togs? – go visit the “clothing optional” beach on Hanlan Island!!

Whatever your “preference” this is a cliched “something for everybody” affair and large enough to swallow boatloads of visitors and residents that arrive by way of three ferry entry points – Hanlans Point (far West of Island near Airport); Centre Island (all aboard for Centreville and central beaches); and my favourites Ward and Algonquin Islands (the two easternmost communities)

Brief island genealogy:
To the east
Ward’s Island, actually the east section of the old peninsula, was named after the Ward family who first settled here about 1830. David Ward, a local fisherman, raised seven children. His son, William, built the iconic Ward’s Hotel in 1882, just south of the ferry docks at Channel Avenue. Sadly this was demolished in 1966.
By the 1880s the Ward’s Island community began as a settlement of tents which by 1913, had increased to the point where the city organized the community into street; tents gave way to small cottages which eventually evolved into a cottage community.

To the the west:
Amongst the first year-round inhabitants, were the Hanlan family who settled at Gibraltar Point in 1862. This area became a summer cottage community with John Hanlan building another hotel at what is still called Hanlan’s point on the north west tip of the island. Ned Hanlan, (John’s son) earned international repute as a world class rowing champion.

Cue Centre Island which became THE place to have your Grand Country Mansion following the relocation of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club to the north shore.
Now that this is one if the only structures visible on the Islands from Toronto Lakeshore, it’s impossible to imagine that during the late 19 century the north shore of the Islands (Both on Centre and Hanlan’s) resembled Blackpool in its heyday with these grand mansions, an amusement park and a Ball Park made famous by Babe Ruth.
Centre Island is now home to “Centreparc”and “Far Enough Farm” and is the relatively “crowded” part of the Island archipelago. Also home to a guided tram tour; formal Gardens and Waterfalls; bike, tandem and buggy hire and beaches plus a small pier. All sorts of sporting events take place off this Island plus you can hire canoes and kayaks here.

In 1915 the “rot” started when a small hanger was built at the beach by the Curtiss Flying School. This float plane aerodrome was used for flight training for World War I. In 1937 the stadium and amusement park made way for a new larger airport which also led to the displacement of the Hanlan’s Point Cottage Community, many of whom physically barged their homes round to the newly reclaimed Algonquin Island adjacent to Ward’s.

During the 1950’s the Island residential community extended from Ward’s Island to Hanlan’s Point, and was made up of some 630 cottages and homes, many of which extended along the then unprotected boardwalk (the sea wall was added later). Now only a whisper of evidence of habitation along this walkway exists (apart from a couple of existing buildings: The Rectory Hotel and the Sunrise Senior’s Home). Now you have to look really hard amongst the lush, wild vegetation for a few ragged openings and the skeletons of bygone concrete paths. At the time though this thriving community had a movie theatre, a bowling alley, stores, hotels, and dance halls which were razed to the ground around 1955 by Metropolitan Toronto Council to make way for Parkland. Since that time right up to 1993, the Islander’s have fought many battles for the survival of their communities. Now Islanders own 99 year land leases from a Land Trust. For anyone wanting to live the idyll (beware the winter season though!), be warned: these houses are not for sale on the open market and only available through the Trust. If you are interested, you will sign up to be placed at the bottom of a long line up (literally a list) of potential purchasers. When a property comes up for sale it will be offered to around 100 folk on the list with the person at the top taking priority. Islanders may only bequeath their properties to a spouse or offspring.

Favourite Places.
The Ferry Ride itself
Whether its the Hanlan’s Point, Ward Island or Centre Isle Ferry – here is a chance to view the magnificent skyline for a mere $7.00 return. The best value Ferry ride is a late ferry back from Ward’s Island as this car ferry often sails west along the shore to pick up folk from the far west of the Islands at Hanlan’s Point, so you get a 30 minute scenic ride.

The Boardwalk end of the Beach on Ward’s Island – in essence this end of a long sandy beach is like a little sheltered cove snugged up to the boardwalk with tree and rock fringed sand and an almost constant northerly breeze.

The Island Cafe – Open till 8pm in the summer months but closed during the winter; this is a family run entity opening off the Community Centre (think Bowling alley. tennis court and cute Community Hall. Serves amazing lemonade, delectable home-made deserts, and great espresso. Add to that a varied bistro-styled dining menu including house-smoked fish and an excellent selection of ice cream served either in the tiny bar area, on the patio, alfresco under a raised pergola affair or in the shady nook of the covered porch. This is the closest I’ve gotten to Cornish paint-washed casual barefoot beach- chic. Just gorgeous and worth the Ferry ride just to sit out here of an evening.

The Rectory Cafe
The shady loveliness of this “open all year round” Restaurant/Cafe (check website for details –  http://www.therectorycafe.com  is what attracts visitors to Ward and Algonquin Island. Accessible both from the road leading west from the Ward Island Ferry terminal and from the boardwalk, this has to be one of the nicest patios in Toronto

The Island Marina Cafe
A bit off the tourist route – as it is part of the workaday Island Marina just to the west of the Centre Island Ferry Point. With great views of the Lakeshore, a private tender will ferry you to and from York Quay. Beer, coffees and snacks available here for those who want to get away from Centre Island Madness.

Far Enough Farm
Love visiting the horses and animals here – you can toddle through here on the 2 km walk to Ward Island (if you feel so inclined). Unfortunately you have to run the gamut of CentreParc – and all the excited kids – to visit this but get there first thing in the morning and even that is bearable. In fairness some of the Centreparc rides are country cute and swaddled in trees and gardens so not your average amusement park

Walking around Algonquin and Ward Island’s cottage communities; exploring the tiny lane way maze that winds in and around these cottages. If you like cottage gardens, tangled foliage, quirky garden ornaments and house decor layered with spectacular glimpses of the Toronto skyline, then this is for you.

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Best Things about “The Junction” district Toronto

English: Looking east down Dundas Street West ...

Encompassing the Dundas street west and stretching from DuPont west of Wallace all the way east over to High Park , this originally heavily industrialized section of Toronto was home to the massive Foundries and Factories that supported Toronto’s burgeoning turn of the century Rail network. As you would expect in an area born out of the industrial rail era, The Junction’s main artery – Dundas Street West – has antique, bric a brac and architectural salvage stores all competing in the lineup with the Victorian era red brick buildings that dominate this upcoming and hip part of town. More like an old fashioned British high street than a suburb of Toronto, the boom in church and factory loft restorations in the area has led to an influx of super cool loft dwellers that has ensured a ready market for these businesses and their support acts: the kitschy and quirky coffee shops, delis, brew pubs and restaurants.

Eat
Wallace &Co
Still has quirky store signs all over window so bizarrely the first thing you notice is the “Soda comic books” sign on the main window of the corner front of this diner/espresso bar
Full of Junction trendies in this upcoming part of the city
299 Wallace Street

Curry Twist
Tiny and designed inventively – on a shoestring, this was a hard-earned find.
Now it’s on our radar and its deliciousness etched on our taste buds we won’t be going to any other Indian restaurant on Toronto – EVER

Check out the following too:
Cafe Neon– Wallace Street – great coffee, breakfast in cool urban loft space
The Farmhouse Tavern – interesting tractor/all things farm decor: oysters a speciality : enticingly inventive cocktails and good patio. Check opening times as these vary.
The Pie Shack on Annette – pies, pies and just pies (and coffee/tea) Best home- made pie in town. Cute interior space with some board games – tiny apron of outside space for a couple of tables and a doghouse (and why not!)

Slurp
Cafe Creme
Agora
Cool hand of a girl
Crema Coffee
Amani Earls

Sup
Indie Brewing company
3030 on Dundas West (Bring your creativity with you here for boardgames/drawing/quiz nights/vintage pinball machines).

Shop
Metropolis
Post & Beam Reclamation
Forever Interiors
Smash

Dicover

Over and Out

Toronto’s Hidden Gems part 2

Edgewalk
Okay not so much hidden as unique and a world first – how about walking full -circle hands- free around the CN Towers main pod, 356m/1168ft above the ground.
Attatched to an overhead safety rail, walk out with a small group of six others and see Toronto from a different angle – literally. Led by trained guides, thrill seekers will be “encouraged” to push their personal limits during the walk by leaning back off the tower into the sky above Toronto’s impressive downtown city core.
$175 for 1.5 hours including 30 minutes of adrenaline fuelled “sightseeing” on the Edgewalk
http://www.edgewalkcntower.ca

• Yoga or Life Drawing at The AGO

Perfect your downward dog in one of the stunning Frank Geary designed spaces of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Swap your mirrored yoga studio for a workout amidst priceless artworks either in the Henry Moore Gallery or Galleria Italia. Currently running 3 times a week on Mondays, Thursday and Sundays: check out the website below
If yoga doesn’t appeal, how about a spot of life drawing – with a model, in one of the AGO’s public galleries?
The AGO runs a couple of 2 hour sessions on one day every week. You can book for 10 sessions or simply drop in on a first- come first- serve basis. Normally around 10 Easels are set up so arrive well before the scheduled time.
http://www.ago.net

• Ride a Segway round The historic Distillery District
A national heritage site and the home of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery for 153 year, this pedestrianized village is one of the oldest most charming spots in Toronto. With cobbled lane-ways and North America’s largest collection of Victorian Industrial architecture, the distinctive 100 foot chimney, red brick and green shuttered buildings – now house around 90 restaurants, boutiques and galleries. The perfect setting then for a guided Segway tour led by a certified instructor. The tour starts with a run down on the basic techniques followed by 60 minutes discovering the area
$69 plus tax for 60 minutes, reservations required
http://www.segwayofontario.com

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Mothers Day Treat

The following is a selection of Mother-friendly Toronto destinations that have been rigorously tried and tested by a member of this very important target audience – My Mother

Warning: You won’t get to do all of these in one day of course –
Perfect excuse to take her out again.
And again……

Breakfast:
No self respecting day out with your mother can even get off the ground without a decent breakfast.
Stratus at the top of the TD Waterhouse Building in The Toronto Athletic Club serves breakfast with a skyline view. Nestled amongst the gleaming towers of the city core, the restaurant is stylishly minimalist but good value with great breakfast choices overseen by chef David Ross (Auberge du Pommier), Open for weekday breakfast and lunch it’s best to make a reservation on 4168651924

Over in Toronto’s west end, a different style of breakfast option is available at “Nadege” The brainchild of fourth generation pastry chef Nadege Nourian, this patisserie is especially delightful from spring through fall when – after you’ve made your choice of scrumptious made-on-site filled croissants or agonised over the melt-in-your-mouth macaron selection – you can sit on the shaded patio overlooking the park.
http://www.nadege-patisserie.com

Museums
If museums could be given a gender then both “The Bata shoe museum” and The Gardiner museum would be female and on that basis perfect for our Mothers.
The Gardiner whilst small but perfectly formed is the only museum in Canada devoted exclusively to ceramics. A gleaming glass confection of beautifully displayed ceramics spanning 3 floors topped by the Jamie Kennedy restaurant. There are always has myriad temporary thought-provoking exhibitions passing through, in addition to genre related classes and talks, plus it hosts the exquisite Twelve Trees” exhibit at Christmas. Bonus: if your Mother fancies throwing a pot or two, herself, make sure you are in the lobby on Wednesday or Friday evenings a for first-come, first- serve access to the studio beginning at 6pm. They also run on Sundays at 1pm
http://www.gardinermuseum.on.ca

The Bata shoe Museum
Question: which fictitious secret agent had a telephone built into his shoe?
You can find out at this one-of-a-kind museum. If I were a shoe I’d leave instructions to be buried here. Shoe-heaven spanning 4.500 years over 4 floors in an award winning building. From chestnut-crushing clogs to celebrity shoes bequeathed by John Lennon, Marilyn Munroe and Madonna (to name but a few), oh and curiously a pair of Napolean Bonaparte’s silk socks.
http://www.batashoemuseum.ca

Spa experience
Nothing screams “Spoil Her” as much as a couple of hours of lounging and treatments at one of Toronto’s world class hotel spas.
Both these below are covered separately in previous blogs, so if you need more info scroll back through my posts.

Caudalie Miraj Hammam Spa at the Shangri-La – a wildly exotic experience where you can book a private hamman for just the two of you. What makes this a really special treat is the tented opulence of the Hammam lounge – all “Arabian nights” draped chiffon, Persian rugs and jewel colored raffia “pouffes” strewn with mags, and reeking decadence.
A nice touch after your treatment/s is the baklava, grapes and sweet mint tea served on brassware to your little “nook
http://www.mirajcaudaliespa.com

More down to earth but just a blissful in terms of treatment options (and price) is “The Aveda Concept spa” at the “Intercontinental” Hotel on Front Street.
The Spa area whilst lined with glass framed views of the Toronto skyline has an intimate ambiance and an inviting waiting area complete with Aveda tea, fresh fruit and infused waters on –tap. It always houses a decent sized pool (complete with tiny waterfall) fringed with cheerful and inviting reclining loungers, and a hot tub.
http://www.thespaintercontinental.com

Afternoon Tea
Forget all the formula high-teas of the high-end Hotels down town, your Mother will be charmed by an afternoon tea in any of the more unusually feminine offerings below:
First up the delightful and always surprising “Red Tea Box” that hides out on Queen Street West. One of Toronto’s best kept secrets comprising 2 indoor shabby-chic tea rooms sandwiching a “secret garden” summer patio shaded by pear trees and Indian

screens. Open the tiny door and your view is barred by the huge display of “trade secret” crazy -pretty cakes: iced to perfection and almost too beautiful to eat, these are light-as-a-feather sponge and cream delectations in wildly yummy flavors. Also available are imaginative sweet and savory Bento boxes, sandwiches and soups.
This is not a place to be rushing through – the service pace should be your guide. Closed Tuesdays – check for hours. 416 203 8882

MoRoCo – a lexicon: Mo for Montana, Ro for Rory and Co for Cocoa. Montana and Rory are the inspiration behind MoRoCo Chocolate’s delectable offering on Yorkville Avenue. The interior, with its enticing “come hither” chocolate aura is a striking marriage of tasteful Parisian boudoir and a hat box –dark paint, white moulded walls, chandeliers and plush seating. This is high tea with a twist; a chocolate twist plus a chance to sample the house-made chocolate finery. You must book ahead for “High Teas”www.morocochocolat.com

The Old Mill Hotel is a quaint and historic setting for afternoon tea – There has been a tea garden here since 1914. A restored black and white timber framed hotel in the leafy enclave of Old Mills West Toronto, its motto is “In the valley of the Humber, a bit of England, far from England”. And a taste of old England is exactly what you’ll get: dark beamed spaces; flagstone floors and the glorious smell of wood smoke from the wood burning fires dotted around the place. You will need to book ahead: Teas are served
Monday – Friday from 3:00 -5pm, 2-4pm on Saturdays and 3:30-5pm on Sundays. http://www.oldmilltoronto.com

Cocktails with a view:

Cocktails at the top of one of the world’s tallest structures, “The CN Tower” wins the prize here –either as part of a meal in the spectacular 360 revolving restaurant or just a twilight visit to the Horizon Restaurant Bar just below. Be sure to visit at twilight so you can watch the sun go down over the city around 350 metres below!

http://www.cntower.ca

“The Panorama lounge” in the Manu-Life Centre on Bloor – sit on the balcony 55 floors up for a no-holds-barred “Panoramic” view of the city and Lake. Though High-heel worthy, this chic venue is not so snotty as to turn its nose up at end-of-long-day smart casual.www.panoramalounge.com

http://www.pamoramalounge.com

In the heart of Toronto’s impressive glass and steel financial district and under the watchful eye of the CN Tower, Canoe is one of Toronto’s high end restaurants with a view. The prize stallion of the Oliver and Bonacini stable of restaurants, you don’t need a reservation if you are simply stopping by for a cocktail in the window lined bar. – Tel:4163640054

A night on the town
Toronto is the third largest theatre venue in the world after London and New York, so expect to be able to treat your Mother to a spectacular west end or Broadway show. It’s easy to pick up tickets for same day shows at the the Totix booth in Dundas Square. Or subscribe to mirvish.com to nab great deals on tickets in advance.
Look out for theatre events occurring in heritage properties such
as the faux gothic Casa Loma or the century old Montgomery’s Inn which frequently host imaginatively interpreted performances of Shakespeare, Bram stoker and Dickens plays adapted to make use of these amazing spaces. Check http://www.casaloma.org or
http://www.montgomerysinn.com
Can’t leave this category without mentioning the world class architecturally and acoustically advanced “Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts”, home of the
National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company. Contact the centre at http://www.coc.ca

Jazz
With a phenomenal number of jazz and blues bars many of which are just that – bars hosting great talent, there are two that are a bit special:
The newly opened and Chicago-esque “Jazz Bistro” downtown on Victoria Street. Resurrected from the ashes of the “Top of the Senator” jazz club this has taken the business of jazz supper to new levels in Toronto. You need to reserve a dining slot in order to eat and watch the show as supper is served before the performer comes on. Not your average jazz club food here. More of a “Ronnie Scotts” in Londond or a “Birdland” New York experience.

http://www.jazzbistro.ca

“The Reservoir Lounge” on Front Street. Their tag line – “Cool Jazz. Hot Swing. Great People. Smart Cocktails. Good Eats” – just about sums this place up. A nice understated stone walled basement jazz club – There is usually a cover to be paid at the door http://www.reservoirlounge.com

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Tailor-made Toronto – Girls morning out (Eating)

Iphone summer 2012 177Butter Avenue 2 - Copy (2)

Spending the day with girl friends, sisters or Mum?
Whilst some of the following are definitely male-friendly there is a girl bias so leave the chaps behind this time…..

For summer mornings; delicious breakfast/melt-in-your mouth breakfast croissants, pastries and espresso at Nadege on Queen street West adjacent to Trinity Bellwoods park. Sun drenched summer patio on the side.

Stratus at the top of the Toronto Athletic Club – 36 floors up with an up-front and personal view of the CN Tower and the Lake shoreline. Open for breakfast only Monday – Friday

A Bluegrass brunch at the Dakota Tavern!

Sunday brunch in the Harry Potter gothic atmosphere of The Hart House Gallery Grill – http://www.harthouse.utoronto.ca

On Queen Street East at “Bonjour Brioche” the best French breakfast pastries – zesty lemon twisty croissants is a speciality you won’t find anywhere else – this is also a summer patio cafe.

Sunday brunch in the Lee Chin Crystal at C5 in the ROM – now headed up by TV Chef Corbin Tomaski (who used to be at Holts and who amingst other tv credits hosted “Dinner Party Wars” with Anthea Turner).

A Bluegrass brunch at the Dakota Tavern!

A little further out and combined with a wonderful walk in the wetlands conservation area that is the Brickworks, visit Cafe Belong for delicious feather-light buttery breakfast biscuits bursting with sausage,eggs and bacon – more filling than biscuit.
Worth the tedious queuing at the weekends!

The Grenadier Cafe in High Park does a damn good breakfast and has a huge patio for the summer and you can make your day out about walks in High Park, Toronto’s largest park – lots of trails, a zoo, allotments area, fishing, Shakespeare in the Park venue.

“ELEVENSES” break (anytime)

Google Curbside Bliss mobile cupcakes for the MOST divine cupcakes in town. Seriously find out where they are parking for he morning and plan your trip around them – best cupcakes in town
Cupcakes at Dlish on Queen street west.
Prairie girl on King Street East.
The Cupcake Shoppe on Yonge north of Eglinton – claims to be Toronto’s first cupcake speciality shop – 28 but free varieties with 11 rotating flavours served daily.

Crema coffee
This burgeoning coffee chain uses some type of whizzy highly pressurized milk- frothing technology to concentrate the size of the bubbles in the cappuccino cream. I am so addicted to the macchiatos/lemon and ginger scones/lemon poppyseed scones/ cheese and bacon breakfast corn bread/coconut macaroons etcetera, etcetera that I make detours to fit a visit into my days!

French pastries and wicked espresso at Jules or Thurbors on Mount Pleasant or La Cigogne on The Danforth or Bayview.

Thuet on King West – mouthwatering croissants in shabby chic loft store.

At the point where the Lawrence/Yonge pish-posh shops virtually run out “Butter Avenue”- just south of Loblaws – has attracted rave reviews from foodie and city papers since it opened at the back end of 2011.
This sort of patisserie shop has been a long time coming to the area. It boasts a simple minimalist desgign – teeny tiny round tables, Philip Stark style white cafe chairs, a stunning stand-alone window display comprising a huge conical tree of macaroons – the cafe’s speciality. Great espresso reasonably priced and “special” tarts and macaroons sparingly displayed for maximum visual impact can be purchased.

Spend a morning in “The Distillery” heritage area:
Have a cup of thick Spicy Chocolate plus lots of other naughty chocolate creations at Soma and watch them make their chocolate through glass walls through to the kitchen.
Balzacs coffee also have a beguiling and unusual space here. Just expensive and slow but the tables spill onto the cobblestones in the summer making it a wonderful place to toast in the sun and people watch. Plenty of shi shi boutiques and Galleries in this area too.

The Art Cafe is one of the nicest of the cafes lining the street opposite the AGO as they serve a huge array of sweet and savoury crepesin the midst of its tiny art gallery, oh AND a great espresso – During summer one of those darling patios that pop up in the city in the shape of a couple of tables outside in the “secret garden” shady courtyard; also a couple of seats on the entrance patio that seem to be positioned so as to capture any sun going.

The best most eclectic boutique Shopping on Queen Street West including vintage and one-off unique designer spaces.

Coming up next “Girls Afternoon Out” yep more eating up be done!