One day prior to its opening a couple weeks back, a mosaic of pint-sized hand and nose prints adorned the glass front of Smock, Ronvesvalles’ new tot-focused café. “It’s like the kids knew this was going to be a space for them,” says owner Sara Wood. While child-friendly cafés aren’t new to Toronto (Lil’Bean N’ Green, Playful Grounds), Smock takes the concept even further: there’s no charge for kids to play with the toys, but should parents want some downtime to gab and sip espresso, they can ship the kids off to the craft corner, where, for $8, a facilitator will make sure they’re occupied. For those interested in more than a drop-in craft session, Smock is also offering summer courses in things like print-making (for 4- to 7-year-olds) and Campanimation, a chance for 8- to 11-year-olds to make their own short stop-motion films.
The doggy-and-stroller crowd has been swarming the new café like moths to a flame. With a reading nook, loads of toys, decoupage tables, a Lego-covered bulkhead, a craft corner and an apothecary-inspired craft repository complete with a rolling ladder, it’s no surprise that the local kids are drawn to the space. Indeed, even adults are not immune to the sort of unbridled enthusiasm that the sight of a good marble run can bring on. Other details, such as the fantastic mid-century Argentinean sink or the washroom art installations (hanging paper airplanes made from maps, a spiral of origami-paper butterflies bursting from a jar), only heighten the kid-fuelled sense of whimsy.
The marriage of art and food was a natural one for Wood, who comes from a background that marries the two. She studied at the National Ballet School and at George Brown’s theatre program before opening her own catering company, Les Louises, with her sister and best friend. She sold her share of the catering company when she had her daughter, Adelaide, which is around the time she dreamed up Smock. Being the mother of a four-year-old, Wood knows all too well how picky kids can be, which is why the kids menu ($4.50) has a long list of options (carrots, chickpeas, avocado, blueberries) from which kids can decide on their own favourite three. For the adults, Wood is planning on a daily menu that will feature in-season organic options. On their opening weekend they were serving sandwiches with brie and salami, and cheddar sandwiches with a side of roasted pepper and coconut soup ($11 for a combo). Currently, Wood is in the throes of applying for a liquor license; local parents have their fingers crossed.
Smock Café, 287 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-530-0888, smockcafe.com