Dundas West

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Restaurants

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Little Portugal loses Essen

Dundas West's Essen Restaurant has closed

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Toronto’s only purveyor of Jewish ramen, Essen, has closed. Owner and chef Leor Zimerman first opened Quinta, the French-Portuguese bistro, in 2012, but changed things up when sales started to sag. Last September, he debuted Essen at the same address, where he served traditional(ish) Jewish dishes, like the aforementioned matzoh-ball noodle bowl, a chopped chicken liver banh mi and a manischewitz cocktail named after Krusty the Clown’s father. Unfortunately, there will be no third act for Zimerman—at this location, anyway. “I closed to spend more time with my family,” he says. “I’ve missed most of my daughter’s toddler years running the restaurants.” Essen’s last dinner service was held on August 26. Luckily, we can still satisfy our cravings for updated Ashkenazi nosh at Anthony Rose’s Fat Pasha.

The Goods

Street Style

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Street Style: hip dads hang out with their cute kids at a Dundas West street fest

street-style-cool-dads

(Images: Giordano Ciampini)

Last weekend, dads were on duty at Dundas West Fest, the neighbourhood’s annual street party. We spotted father figures dishing out shoulder rides, buying bunches of balloons and chasing after sugar-crazed toddlers. Somehow, they managed to appear perfectly composed in laid-back T-shirts, panelled caps and sweet sneakers. (And really, throwing together any sort of half-decent outfit as a preoccupied parent is a serious accomplishment in our eyes.) Here, 13 cool-looking dads totally succeeding at the whole parenting thing.

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Street Style

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Street Style: Brazilian fans show their World Cup pride, despite a rough loss

Street Style: Brazilian fans show their pride, despite a rough loss

Click to view gallery (Images: Jenna Marie Wakani)

As we’re sure you already know (it was, after all, the most tweeted-about sports event in history), Brazil took a beating from Germany in yesterday’s semi-final World Cup game. On Dundas West, loyal Brazil fans remained glued to television screens, and though the atmosphere was certainly somber, most were willing to offer up a smile and share their thoughts on the match. As one fan pointed out, “Brazilians are never bitter about a loss”—a noble claim, albeit one that’s not entirely consistent with the photos on this blog. Not everyone was on Team Brazil—we spotted at least one set of Germany fans in the area (they respectfully stopped cheering after goal number three). Here, the best of Dundas West’s World Cup style, including DIY beading, animal hats and team-supporting kicks.

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The Dish

Neighbourhoods

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Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #9. Because a Three-Block Stretch of Dundas West is Jammed with New Businesses

Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #9. Because a Three-Block Stretch of Dundas West is Jammed with New Businesses

(Image: Peter Andrew)

Four years ago, Dundas west of Gladstone to Brock was still described as “up and coming.” Now, it’s a full-fledged hipster village. Flannel-clad couples eat artisanal fare under bare Edison bulbs, shoppers flock to vintage boutiques to buy pieces they earmarked on ­Instagram, and dark bars cater to the writers, designers and musicians who’ve moved into nearby houses and studio spaces. Residents have dubbed the area DuWest. Here, a tour of the new businesses in Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhood.

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The Goods

Stores

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A high-end consignment store stocked with hip, designer clothing opens on Dundas West

(Images: V S P)

After more than two years managing Ossington boutique Jonathan and Olivia, Britt Rawlinson has developed a clear sense of what west-end women want to wear. To wit, V S P, Rawlinson’s new consignment shop at Dundas and Brock, is full of crisp basics and playful dresses from labels like Marni, Dries van Noten, Celine, Acne and Rag and Bone, as well as a tightly edited selection of designer shoes, bags and jewellery. Most of it comes from Vespucci Consignment, her mother’s 10,000-square-foot consignment institution in Calgary, with new shipments arriving regularly (“I go visit her and take all the good stuff,” says Rawlinson). Prices are around a third of the original value, which translates into $14 for a lower-end shirt; about $60 to over $150 for designer tops; and $1,500 for a vintage Chanel suit in impeccable condition. For those looking to sell, consigners can bring by items at any time and generally receive about 45 per cent of the final sale price.

V S P Consignment, 1594 Dundas St. W., 416-588-9821, vspconsignment.com

The Goods

Stores

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A guy-centric vintage store opens at Dundas and Ossington

(Images: Andres Miranda)

Of the many vintage shops along Dundas West, Black Flower Vintage is the first to focus almost entirely on menswear. The stock includes basics like fall sweaters, blazers and designer dress shirts ($35–$140), but it’s more fun to hunt for offbeat pieces sourced by owner Sacha Laberge, a Montreal transplant known to pair a dashiki with formal trousers or a vintage basketball jersey with ornate jewellery. Spotted recently: a Vivienne Westwood polka-dot dress shirt ($140), an intricate Nepalese wrist cuff ($160) and a ring bearing Chewbacca’s face ($40). Laberge also carries new items like Montreal brand Cease and Desist’s Lego rings ($20-25), hand-made leather shoes by England’s Grenson ($180) and leather espadrilles from Spain ($60). The small ladies’ section is full of prints and ‘80s vintage, though women in search of boyfriend-fit pants and slouchy tops might want to browse the guys’ racks, too.

M-Su 12–9. 2 Lakeview Ave. (at Dundas W.), 647-426-7610, Facebook

The Dish

Drinks

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A new bar on Dundas West from the owners of Parkdale’s Motel

Lucy Brock

(Image: Tim Franklin)

Bars and restaurants have been steadily colonizing the Dundas West strip between Ossington and Dufferin, including Churchill, The Federal Reserve, Brockton General and Midfield Wine Bar. The latest addition is Lucy Brock, a new bar from the owners of the dive bar Motel on Queen West. It courts a slightly more grown-up crowd with polished concrete floors, exposed brick walls and Southern-inspired cocktails, like a Basil Gin Flip with lemongrass and lime. For food, there are small plates to come, possibly from a rotating roster of pop-up chefs. Quirky details add charm, like a street-light chandelier (salvaged from a military base near Ottawa) and a bar top covered in $250 worth of out-of-circulation Canadian pennies.             

Lucy Brock, 1479 Dundas St. W

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Stores

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Shop Talk: new stores and shopping websites from June 2013

Sock boutique Floorplay opened on Queen West (Image: Kayla Rocca)

The city’s newest stores include: a shop devoted entirely to socks, two online vintage boutiques and new locations from Kate Spade and the Drake General Store. Below, the full list, divided into west, central, east and online, plus the latest gossip on upcoming openings.

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Stores

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Store Guide: Easy Tiger Goods, a new lifestyle shop and coffee joint on Dundas West

Easy Tiger Goods

Name: Easy Tiger Goods
Sells: Home goods, stationery, grooming products, women’s apparel and accessories, and flowers, plus coffee, tea and snacks
Contact Info: 1447 Dundas St. W., 647-748-6161, easytigergoods.com
Hours: Mon 12–5, Tu–Sa 11–7, Su 12–6
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Dundas West’s Easy Tiger Goods carries an eclectic mix of apparel, jewellery, gifts and tchotchkes, a model associated with the Drake General Store that has recently caught on in the west end. Throwback items like metal flasks ($55), pocket combs ($12–$18) and beard oil ($40) serve the current appetite for artisanal goods with a nostalgic bent. Owner Zai Rajkotwala stops short of overly kitschy, though, by emphasizing clean lines and neutral colours—see, for instance, the soft leather oxfords by Dieppa Restrepo ($280) and colour-blocked ipad cases and wallets by Clare Vivier ($110 and $190).

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The Goods

Stores

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Store Guide: Blue Button Shop brings sophisticated Japanese clothing and accessories to Dundas West

Store Guide: Blue Button, an “otona” style boutique in Dundas West Name: Blue Button Shop
Sells: Men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, grooming products and home goods
Contact info: 1499 Dundas St. W., 647-606-3270, bluebuttonshop.com
Hours: Mon–Sa 12–7, Sun 12–5
See it on a map » 

Canadian- and Italian-themed boutiques have both already been done, but Blue Button Shop, on Dundas and Dufferin, is Toronto’s first store dedicated to the “Otona” (or “adult”) style out of Japan. Here, the refined aesthetic translates into lots of stripes, muted colours, natural fabrics and quirky details like pockets shaped like birds or stitched-in hidden messages. Like in similar boutiques in Japan, nearly all of the wares are unisex.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Another trendy new bar opens on the Dundas West strip

(Image: Megan Leahy)

Montauk is the latest addition to the stretch of Dundas West east of Trinity Bellwoods park, joining Bent, L’Ouvrier and Campagnolo (plus, impending arrival Queen Margherita Pizza). After a thorough overhaul by the owner Dustin Keating, who added exposed reclaimed piping, hefty reclaimed wood tables and industrial light fixtures to the space, the room is more polished than nearby dives like The Press Club and Magpie.  Cocktails are created by guest bartenders who stop by on a weekly basis to mix their own concoctions, there are four beers on tap and the wine list is exclusively Ontario. Montauk doesn’t have an in-house kitchen: so housemade beef jerky is the only snack standing in the way of a tipsy trip to the McDonalds next door. 765 Dundas St. W., 647-352-4810, barmontauk.com, @Montaukbar

The Dish

Restaurants

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The Federal launches its evening service

(Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

The Federal (née The Federal Reserve) opened last spring as a brunch spot for west-enders looking to recuperate after a night of boozing and bar-snacking along Dundas West. Now the restaurant has launched its own nighttime booze and bar snack menu, available Tuesday through Sunday, from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. 

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The Dish

Restaurants

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The Hoof Café’s popular brunch service is back—at the Hoof Raw Bar

Over the weekend, Black Hoof owner Jen Agg tweeted a piece of news that Toronto brunchers have been waiting to hear since the cult Hoof Café closed in 2011:

The brunch service actually launched over the weekend (early reports are already flooding in), and will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday to Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. We expect the 2010-style lineups to reappear along Dundas West this weekend, sub-zero temperatures be damned.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: The Hogtown Cure, Dundas West’s new sandwich shop and deli

Introducing: The Hogtown Cure

(Image: Megan Leahy)

The Hogtown Cure is a new straight-from-the-farm deli and sandwich shop which opened earlier this month at the corner of Dundas and Dufferin. Behind the store are husbands Steve Ireson and Chris Schroer, along with co-owner Vanessa Gulletson, who stripped back four previous renovations to reveal original plate glass windows and Victorian wallpaper, which they supplemented with an open-concept copper kitchen and light fixtures made from old canning jars. 

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Archive, a casual new wine bar on Dundas West

Introducing: Archive

(Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Unlike the tony wine bars of yore, which targeted the suits-and-heels crowd, Archive, which opened last month, is situated on the more dressed-down strip of Dundas West that’s home to The Black Hoof and Saving Grace (the bar’s next-door neighbour). The owners, brothers Joel and Josh Corea (Pizzeria Libretto, Ortolan), took over the exposed brick–clad space formerly home to vintage shop Apt. 909, and outfitted it with custom banquettes and high school science lab stools as well as a series of wine maps and charts, to create what they hope will become a cozy after-work destination.

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