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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
“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
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
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
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.
“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