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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Toronto’s most unusual dining venue – Part 2 – For Location

So in the last blog I chose to feature dining experiences set apart by their access to spectacular views of Toronto

This article features restaurants categorized according to their out-of -the-ordinary locations:

• The Rectory Cafe on Toronto Island
A slice of cottage country on the City’s doorstep, The secluded oasis that is Rectory Cafe is located on Ward island within a shady sun- dappled copse scooched up to The Island’s tree lined board walk.
With interesting menu options and cocktails this is a delightful place to dine at any time of day but an especially beguiling venue in the evening when most of the day trippers have returned home as it is open till 10pm in the summer.
http://www.therectorycafe.com

Arriba Restaurant – Renaissance Hotel
From its magnificent vantage point high up in the Rogers Skydome a meal at Arriba combines dynamic dining with an opportunity to catch a Blue Jays game. A window-on-the-game meal is served with a side of baseball snippets by enthusiastic serving staff.
http://www.arribarestauranttoronto.com/

Auberge du Pommier
One wouldn’t just come across this Oliver and Bonacini owned gem, as this tiny French restaurant – carefully restored around two 1860’s woodcutters cottages – is tucked away off the beaten track, and shrouded amongst the densely packed skyscrapers of one of North York’s busy financial and business districts
Serving the most delectable and much lauded French food in a atmospheric wood- smoke drenched space complete with a huge wood burning fireplace.
“Sante”
http://www.oliverbonacini.com

• Gallery Grill at Hart House
Shades of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts: dine in this intimate gallery overlooking the gothic Great Hall with its vaulted ceiling and oak panelling or choose a table overlooking the sculpture garden. Sumptuous well served food and look out for the innovative cocktails -which also appear evening-side from 7pm Wednesday to Fridays.
www. harthouse.ca/gallery-grill/

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 a leafy enclave of 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:
Afternoon Tea is served
Monday – Friday from 3:00 -5pm, 2-4pm on Saturdays and 3:30-5pm on Sundays.
You’ll need to book ahead
http://www.oldmilltoronto.com

Osgoode Hall Dining Room
The restaurant in this grand circa 1840 building, and home of the Law Society of Upper Canada is the haunt of the legal eagles and those in the know. Have lunch amidst the wood panelled pomp of the Great Hall with its book lined shelves, monster chandeliers, stained glass and mezzanine gallery.
A fabulous crisp fresh menu is served on weekday lunchtimes from September until June. You can opt for either prix fix at around $25 for 2 courses or you can go “off -piste” with a la carte look out for the range of E Lustau sherries
http://www.osgoodehall.com

Over and Out

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Tailor-made Toronto – Girls morning out (Eating)

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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!

Tailor-Made Toronto – Girl’s Day Out

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Read this in conjunction with posts on Girls Morning Out and Girls Afternoon out (Eating!)

VISIT ONE OF TORONTO’S WORLD-CLASS MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Look out
for the “always significant” temporary exhibitions – currently “Revealing the Renaissance” exhibit with priceless 700 year ol works of art – some never before seen outside of Florence!. Go up to the Cedar Lounge on floor 2 for a delicious espresso and house-made pastries. If you are a member then there is the gracious relaxing “Grange” – the member’s lounge strewn with sofas and armchairs and looking over the park.


Royal
Ontario Museum (ROM); great static exhibition of home decor through the ages.
Gardiner Museum; (do a spot of pottery creation in the Pottery studio in the basement).
The Textile Museum and Bata shoe Museum.
The Tiff Bell Lightbox always has some amazing movie related exhibitions, plus a host of unusual film screenings. You can also ask for a guided tour as the architectural nature of the building itself vis a vis it’s purpose is interesting. It also houses an “Oliver and Bonacini” cafe.

Walk along far Queen Street West to look in all the smaller lesser -known galleries, the best being Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art . See http://www.mocca.ca/about-us/visit-mocca/ and href=”http://www.showmetoronto.com/tour_queen_art.htm”>http://www.showmetoronto.com/tour_queen_art.htm for a list of all the galleries in this area.
Also some cute galleries on Dundas Street West opposite the AGO and in the Distillery District, and on Tecumseth street north of King Street West.
You can have a tour of the University of Toronto’s art collection at Hart House – check http://www.harthouse.ca for tour dates and times.

At the AGO, create some life drawing masterpieces in one of the galleries in the museum – be prepared for onlooking museum visitors who will stop to admire ( or sneer at ) your work or book to do a spot of yoga amongst the Henry Moore sculptures.

Spadina House and Gardens – if you are a “Downton Abbey” fan this 120 yr. heritage home of “The Austins” definitely worth a visit right now as “Downton Abbey” days are being programmed into the visiting schedule,
It is also right next to Casa Loma so you can make a whole day of it.

Casa Loma
Torontos Victorian Gothic Castle – great for an afternoon’s tour / sit on the raised stone patio and view the Toronto skyline below whilst sipping tea/coffee from the basement restaurant. Subscribe to their website – they always have cool events befitting a castle ( Ghost Hunting/Dracula plays/ music/feasts etcetera.

ACTIVITIES
Take a Ferry from Queens Quay over to Toronto Islands; the largest car free community in North America; less than a 10 minute ferry ride but a whole world away from the bustle of the city. Stroll around the maze of cutesy cottages and gardens set out amidst the dense thicket of trees that makes up the corner of Ward Island; have a snack at the cheerful outdoor “Island Cafe” opposite the Ward Island Ferry point; have lunch on the tree shrouded patio just off the boardwalk at “The Rectory”.
Take your swimsuit and visit one of the many beaches. Hire a bike or canopied 4-wheeler and ride around all three islands, play frisbee golf, canoe, or kayak.
Or just stroll the boardwalk or lush island paths.

Visit the aforementioned “Distillery District” for cobbled meanderings amongst artsy shops/cafes/galleries and restaurants

Explore the tiny zoo at Riverdale, amongst all the cute Victorian houses and the stunning Victorian gothic Neocropolis building.
Walk the trails of Toronto’s Ravines or its largest park – High Park with the tiny zoo, fishing lake, picnic spots, historic Colborne House, allotments, ornamental gardens and waterfalls – best pie in the city at “The Grenadier Cafe” – sit on the tree shaded deck outside in the summer.

SPAS
Spoil yourselves by having a day/half day by the pool on one of the upper levels of the Fours Seasons Hotel!
The Shangri-La’s Caudalie Miraj Hammam Spa is a treat but you have to have a treatment in order to use the Hammam and lounging room.
The Aveda spa in the Intercontinental on Front street gives you unlimited use of the gym, pool and steam room/sauna
Spend a day/ afternoon at the custom made Elmwood day spa.

THEATRE/SHAKESPEARE/COMEDY
Check out Mirvish.com and subscribe to email updates for great deals on the many shows hitting Toronto; the third largest theatre city in the world!
If you are planning your day out in the summer look out for the following outdoor performances.

“Dream in HighPark” – Canadian Stage

“The Withrow Players”.
“The Humber River Shakespeare company” who perform in heritage properties like Casa Loma or Montgomerys Inn.

Look out for “Cirque de Soleil” listings as one of the troupes has a permanent home in Toronto

Comedy
Anywhere the “National Theatre of the World” (aka comedians Sniekus & Baram) are playing.
“The Comedy Club” (Eglinton.
“The Second City” on Mercer street downtown always puts on a pithy and hilarious show which they change around 3 times a year.

MUSIC
“The Rex Hotel” downtown Queen Street west for great music anytime (around 4 acts a day)
“Gate 403” in Roncevailles in the west end

The stone walled cavern that is “the “Reservoir Lounge” with jazz every night of the week
“Hugh’s Room” for something a little more formal (we’re talking tablecloths)
“The Monarch Pub” at the Delta Chelsea Hotel downtown which benefits from having a dance floor for the uninhibited amongst us
“Orbit Room” on College – teeny tiny but good vibe, nosh and oh yeah music.

More classic:
“The Royal Conservatory” – Koerner hall.
The Ballet or Opera at the “Four Seasons for the Performing Arts”,
Look out for Toronto Symphony Orchestra performances at “The Roy Thompson Hall”.

Want to finish the day in style? Look out for the soon to be written “Tailor-made Toronto – Get Dressed Up” blog.

Over and Out

I HEART Hart House

This gem of gothic style architecture – across the road from University of Toronto ‘s Magdalen College Oxford inspired Emmanuel College – looking a tadge anachronistic amidst Toronto’s ever burgeoning tower-block dominated cityscape is situated in a swathe of glorious wooded parkland. This “hub” of U of T’s co-curricular activities encompasses a maze of Harry Potter, Hogwart- style stone corridors and vaulted ceilings leading to art collections, music rehearsal rooms, the fitness centre, a huge theatre, performance spaces, a student cafe and the timeless Gallery Grill perched high above the medieval styled Great Hall.
Commissioned by the Massey family and gifted to the University of Toronto by the Massey Foundation Hart House was designed by architect Henry Sproat – one of the last North American masters of the Gothic form – and engineer Ernest Rolph.

Construction began in 1911, and it opened on Remembrance Day, 1919.
Almost a century later Hart House is still embracing it’s original vision ” to
encourage and support activities that provide spaces for awakening the capacity for self-knowledge and self-expression.”
The following a sample of whats available within it’s walls:

Body in Motion
Creative Living & Careers
Filmmaking
Music
Photography
Retreats
Theatre
Voyage to Voice Discovery

weekly “Get Crafty” and drop in teas – free craft sessions in an informal setting – take home a finished project.

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Toronto – Tailor-made for Mothers

Or Ten best Toronto outings things to amuse your Mother
Having just had a visit from my darling Mother – from the UK, I spent many hours lining up a series of bits and bobs to keep us amused. Despite this being her third trip here in six years, trust good old Toronto to just keep on delivering on the fun stuff.
With our gorgeous (for the most part) summer weather and the tourist season in full swing, I discovered a whole host of new things for us to share. This is a very special time for the two of us – Having cleared my diary completely and with only the dog to worry about, we spent our days ambling around Toronto and beyond (actually make this haring around as neither Mum or I can stay in one place for very long), exception being the AGO which needs at least 3 hours – or more if you are a member with access to the Members lounge – an excuse to lounge around eating and drinking coffee/wine in the space that was the original Manor House from which the old AGO sprung
Warning – started this blog with great intentions and an incisive list of “To-dos with your Mother”, and realised that there were dozens of things we’d done as Mother and daughter over the last few years. so list has had to be categorized into 10 separate lists. Go Toronto……
Unusual cafes/restaurants:
Campbell House lunch and tour – http://www.campbellhousemuseum.ca/ They now have a restaurant on the premises which would be worth a look – we didn’t unfortunately get around to this…
Osgoode Hall – Mainly the lunch domain of barristers and lawyers, the refectory in Osgoode Hall – just off Queen and University serves up a stupendous 3 course lunch. great value. Tel: 4169473300 for reservations. Opens again after Labour day.
Toronto Athletic Club breakfast in the Stratus resaurant at the top of the Adelaide Centre building – 416-865-1924. reservations@stratusrestaurant.com
The Good Old Panorama lounge inthe Manu-Life Centre on Bloor – sit on the balcony 55 floors up for “Panoramic” view of the city and Lake. look in sidebar for details
For drinks with a view – Canoe Restaurant – don’t need a reservation if you are just having a drink – Tel: 4163640054
Hart House brunch in The Gallery Grill – http://www.harthouse.utoronto.ca/event/lunch-gallery-grill
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 – there are also a couple of tables outside in the shady courtyard or on the entrance patio that seem to be positioned so as to capture any sun going.
Coco Rogue ( coming soon) and or Marocco Chocolate for chocolate based high tea – http://morocochocolat.com/
Soma at The Distillery does “special” drinking chocolate – the chilli chocolate is divine but not for the faint hearted!
Art Galleries/Museums
The main museums/Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)Royal Ontario Museum (ROM); Gardner Museum; (and do a spot of pottery creation in the Pottery studio in the basement) The Textile Museum and Bata shoe Museum. Walk along far Queen Street West to look in all the smaller lesser -known galleries, the best being Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art . See http://www.mocca.ca/about-us/visit-mocca/ for a list of all the galleries along this stretch of Toronto. http://www.showmetoronto.com/tour_queen_art.htm for a list of all the galleries in this area. Also some cute galleries on Dundas Street West opposite the AGO and in the Distillery District.
Afternoon tea
The Royal York;
King Edward Hotel
Windsor Arms
Intercontinental
the Red Tea Box -Tel: 416 203 3882
Theatre
Check out Mirvish.com and subscribe to email update for great deals on the many shows that come to Toronto – Billy Elliott rocks by the way
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Dream in High Park – this year a Winter’s Tale 8pm (not on Mondays) – finishes next week
Music
The Rex Hotel or Reservoir Lounge for your Mother’s favourite Jazz
The Royal Conservatory – Koerner hall for your Mother’s favourite classical Music
Comedy
Anywhere the “National Theatre of the World” is playing ( see Bread & Circus blog), The Comedy Club (Eglinton) or Second City if your Mother has an open mind and sense of humour.
Day trips:
Niagara wineries – http://www.wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com
Caledon – Gorgeous Mill restaurant and Spa plus many antique shops in the village and lets not forget the nearby “Badlands”
McMichael Gallery at Kleinburg for group of Seven Collection and wonderful hikes. The village is very pretty too.
St Jacobs – Mennonite Museum and great Mennonite Farmers Market.
Elora – Again great Mill restaurant (overlooking Elora Gorge), cute shops and good hiking trails.
Stratford’s Shakespeare Festival – continues until the Fall – see sidebar/Theatre category for Link.
Toronto Islands – starting with an ice cream and espresso at Island Cafe just off the ferry point at Wards Island, a leafy shady stroll through the cutsey cottages; The Rectory café; watch people playing disc golf – *Disc golf is a disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc into a basket or at a target . Hiring a bike; “charabang” four wheeler; canoe or kayak may be questionable depending upon your Mother’s age, but all of these can be found on the island. The nudist beach might also be a No-no – well go on just a peek!!!
Walks/half days
Ravine walks in Toronto worth a day “out” (technically) of the noise of the city. www.toronto.ca/parks/trails/discover.htm
The Brickworks just off the Don Valley Parkway – best on Sundays when the antique market sets up – will do separate blog on this as great board walk and paths through the wetlands area’ . Few Cafes and shops here too and great “brickworks’ workshop space. We’re talking Eco and sustainability at the Brickworks by the way.
Beaches
Newly discovered between The Redpath sugar factory and the new CORUS building on east Lakeshore, a cocktail of sun umbrellas and white sand.
Cherry Beach – better for the Martin Goodman trail walk behind it.
The Beaches in general
Toronto Island – take your pick.
Extras
Toronto Botanical Gardens http://www.torontobotanicalgarden.ca/
Spadina House and Gardens
Casa Loma I put this visit off for years – worth a separate blog of its own.
Allan Gardens
The Distillery District for cobbled meanderings amongst artsy shops/cafes/galleries and restaurants.
The tiny zoo at Riverdale
Toronto Zoo – should be categorized under walks/Days out but is both. Set in beautiful Rouge Park – forget the animals in glorious (often) barrier (yes they are enclosed but most are roaming in oodles of space) – you’ll definitely need your trainers/walking shoes for this one.
Finally, how about living like Princesses and having a day/half day by the pool on one of the upper levels of the Fours Seasons Hotel!!
YOUR MUM WILL LOVE YOU AND TORONTO FOREVER

Brunch at The Gallery Grill – Hart House

What nicer way to start Sunday than with a leisurely, delicious and decadent brunch at Hart House. Though not old by European standards, the architecture and design (Henry Sproatt) screams history and atmosphere (they allegedly even have a ghost according to the very enthusiastic host of a Toronto ghost tour I recently took around the U of T/Hart House area but that’s a whole other story). As you enter the halls and corridors, you enter a neo gothic world of stone colonnades; Italian travertine paved corridors and a Great Hall. We’re talking open timbered roof, oak paneled walls and huge chandeliers darling. It feels like you’ve just stepped on to the set of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.
Grand but austere in a medieval sense, the Great Hall is overlooked by the Gallery Grill restaurant and now we’re in business…
As you enter from the first floor corridor, you are greeted by a roaring log fire and leather armchairs in the bar area – effectively the ante-room to the brunch area – an expectation builder if ever there was one and expectations were met and exceeded. Having been here three times fairly recently, wild horses – or ghosts – wouldn’t stop me accepting all and any invitation to an opportunity to eat in this tiny slice of culinary heaven
Hart House itself contains a theatre; library (I could definitely do some serious study in that library with its cosy stuffed armchairs, polished floors and purple walls); music studios and a billiard room, not to mention one of the most significant collections of Canadian art in the world. It is possible to join a “Curators’ Tour contact Hart House on the telephone number below or visit the website go to www.harthouse.utoronto.ca/
But if you just fancy an indulgent treat or have visitors from out-of-town that you want to impress, book yourself brunch which starts at 11am sharp until 2pm.
Favourite ever cocktail is the Maple Leaf – made with rye whiskey; lemon juice and maple syrup, I still haven’t been able to re-create this at home, and a delicious guilt free excuse to have a bona fide drink before the sun is over the yard-arm (says we Brits). The menu, whilst not cheap is mouth-watering and tempting and beware the yummy deserts. On offer our particular Sunday was “Warm bittersweet Chocolate and St Ambrose Pouding Chomeur” – warm runny chocolate pudding to you and I . Sounds utterly pretentious ,but who cares; one touch of the spoon on the crust released a lava-flow of warm thick gooey chocolate oozing into the surrounding cream sauce…… sigh!
If one of you has the audacity to skip the dessert course, the other desserts appear with 2 spoons sticking out of them – Helloo……..not sharing my pudding with anyone.
If you ever go out with me, a quick word of advice about my approach to Pudding/Dessert (note the capital P!). Pudding is sacrosanct and mostly a forbidden treat so hijacking my enjoyment by putting 2 spoons in my dessert is a no-no and will elicit a glare and a reduced tip. Hate to go on about this, but once you are presented with a pudding and 2 spoons, you really have NO choice but to offer people a taste and before you know it, there’s barely any left .You then have the dilemma of looking like a fat pig if you order a second one!!!!!!!!!! Life’s getting shorter, back off my dessert
Moving on – The sweet potato cake with cream cheese ice-cream and butterscotch-pecan sauce another “get yer mitts off it” dessert.
For those of you who don’t subscribe to my view that dessert should be the first course, here is an idea of the sort of main dishes you might expect as the menu does change. I always have (yes every week!!) a variation of the shiitake Mushroom migas with poached egg and pepper salad or there unusually a trout dish – this time – with apple and scallion salad and boar bacon vinaigrette.
Nobody hurries you and the service is super friendly, un-snobby and relaxed.
Now I just have to think of a reason to go there again; although before I do that I need to find time/partner in crime to go up and have Breakfast at the top of the world in the “by all accounts” spectacularly placed Toronto Athletic Club downtown. This is only open weekdays so may be a while before I manage this one.
God, it’s tough living in Toronto – still someone’s gotta
Over and Out
Hart House, University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 3H3
Telephone: 416.978.2452
Web: www.harthouse.ca
Email: inquiries@harthouse.ca
Gallery Grill – Telephone (416) 978-2445