This Valentines weekend I headed back to Toronto to celebrate my pop’s birthday. Despite how close Montreal and Toronto are, it’s rare that I make it to town more than a few times a year, so when I do there’s a laundry list of places to check out.
Number 1. Stella Luna (1627 Queen St. W.) I used to live just around the corner from this vintage store at Roncesvalles & Queen and would pop in about three times a week. It was a near-miracle if I walked away empty-handed. The owner Cris has unmatchable taste and some of the best things I’ve ever bought came from this store, including my Aztec-meets-Hudson’s-Bay blanket winter coat.
Number 2. Chasse Gardée (1084 Queen St. W.) This is a newish store that a friend pointed out this past summer. When I last visited they were stocked with some outrageous lemon brogues with a cork wedge (six months later, they were, surprisingly/luckily, still there). With shoes, accessories and a few specially curated pieces, the store is supremely cool–though more winter stock and a change from the summer sandals would’ve been better.
Number 3. Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (1082 Queen St. W.) One of the most interesting gallery’s in the city, they champion up-and-coming artists, so there’s always something different and often darkly funny on the walls. Now they’ve turned a previous a gallery space into an artists flea market with everything from work by artists they represent (ceramic fingers and ears by one artist were some of my favourite) to vintage knick-knacks, and great antique pieces. A further plus is Melissa, also an ex-gallery space that’s now a tiny boutique in the style of a vintage boudoir.
Number 4. Hoof Café (923 Dundas W.) With one of my best friends being a Toronto-based food writer there’s inevitably a lot of eating on these trips. She was eager to take me to the Hoof Café where I skipped out on the tongue grilled cheese (a roommate of mine once boiled one as a potluck joke, only to have a guest stick it through the fly of his pants in an act of comedic genius and put me off for just about forever) but dug into the suckling pig eggs benedict, which I can’t even begin to describe.
Number 5. The Drake General Store (1144 Queen St. W.) Say what you want about the Drake (it’s lame, over-priced, filed to capacity with greased-up suburbanites), their General Store is genuinely awesome. It’s sort of like Urban Outfitters, but smaller and cooler, with more wit, better products and lower prices. It’s the kind of place you want to loiter in when you’ve got a dull hangover and money to spend on novelty gifts like RCMP cocktail napkins.
Number 6. Union (72 Ossington) We’d heard mixed reviews about this was a great place to hang out and the dinner was perfect, though admittedly after couple of Zubrowka cocktails and a bottle of Italian red, all I can remember from the meal was that I ate every bite of my pork and shrimp burger and was a big help in finishing off a delicious bread pudding.
Photos: The Drake General Store, the Hoof Café & Chasse Gardée