Bourbon cocktails and bar snacks have their place, but there’s something pleasingly civilized about afternoon tea. The social ritual doesn’t have to feel stodgy. At some of Toronto’s poshest hotels and restaurants, tea sommeliers are curating encyclopedic herbal collections, and big-name chefs are prepping luxe midday spreads stocked with finger sandwiches, tartlets and petit fours. Champagne is optional, but highly recommended.
King Edward Hotel
In this edition of The Weekender, discounted spa treatments, a Jane Austen dance and three more things to do in Toronto this weekend.
Until Sunday, many of the city’s top spas are discounting luxe packages to a mere $50. Our picks: the chocolate paraffin pedicure at Moksa Day Spa and the aromatic facial at Holts Salon and Spa. Oct. 14–Oct 20. $50. Various locations, spaweek.com
The Place: A 470-square-foot suite on one of three floors that the King Edward Hotel recently converted from office space into private residences.
Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas St. W. (at McCaul St.), 416-979-6634
For a truly magnificent celebration, Frank Gehry’s transformed AGO offers an awe-inspiring event space. On the third floor of the south tower, the 7,200-square-foot Baillie Court affords panoramic city views on one end and overlooks the gallery’s iconic spiral staircase on the other. Designed in modern glass and Douglas fir, the room can be divided as needed and seats up to 300. Executive chef Anne Yarymowich works with couples on customized menus, and a small army of professional event staff ensures the experience is as effortless as it is unique. Baillie Court rental includes a one-year membership to the AGO for the newlyweds. The Walker Court is available to rent outside of gallery hours in conjunction with a reception in Baillie Court.
Monday, December 17
- Monday Night Dinners at Local Kitchen and Wine Bar: Every Monday night, Local Kitchen serves a $40 prix fixe menu of Italian fare with half-price wine bottles and no corkage fee. 1710 Queen St. W., 416-534-6700. Find out more »
- 86’D With Ivy Knight—Annual Sagittarian Ball: Get festive in your best cocktail attire while enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres from Stasis Preserves, mead tasting from Rosewood Estates and cheap cocktails made by pros from the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
- Burger Mondays: Enjoy $5 burgers and $5 pints on Mondays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Gladstone Melody Bar. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635. Find out more »
- Lettuce Wrap Night at Chantecler: Chantecler’s popular lettuce wrap night is now taking place twice a week. Come out on Sunday and Monday nights for lettuce wraps with meats, assorted pickles and condiments for $21 per person until 1 a.m.—or until the food runs out. Chantecler, 1320 Queen St. W., 416-628-3586. Find out more »
- Make, Don’t Buy—Chocolates for Beginners: As part of the Depanneur’s Make, Don’t Buy series of DIY gift workshops, join Emily Zimmerman and learn how to make old-fashioned creamy ganache truffles, chocolate bark with toppings of your choice and crunchy chili-cornflake bars, all using organic, Fairtrade and locally processed Chocosol chocolate. The Depanneur, 1033 College St., 416-828-1990. Find out more »
Yesterday afternoon at the King Edward Hotel, Woofstock launched with a Doggy High Tea celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (Woofstock takes place next weekend in the St. Lawrence Market area). Comedian Alan Park served as the MC for the event, and dogs of all shapes and sizes walked the red carpet (yep) before they sat down to socialize over doggy cakes, cookies and tea (yep). A dog in pink, Roxie, made her official “coming out” into doggy society, and her owner came with a press release in hand (yep). We saw kings, queens and some oddities, but there’s no doubt our hearts grew several sizes after spending an afternoon with some of the most adorable pups. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
How Israeli developer Gil Blutrich built his empire of vacation destinations for the yachting class in southern Ontario
Gil Blutrich believes in destiny. When he was a boy growing up in Ra’anana, a town north of Tel Aviv, he spent a lot of time fantasizing about what he wanted for his bar mitzvah. While most of the boys in his class opted for expensive stereo systems or family vacations in Europe, Blutrich chose to redecorate his room. It was the early ’70s, and photographic wallpaper murals were all the rage. Blutrich passed over the tropical beach scenes and snow-capped mountains for something different: a summer landscape with a lush green meadow and a reedy frog pond. It was, he now believes, a postcard of southern Ontario, cosmically mailed back in time by his future self. “I looked at that wallpaper every day until I was 18, and it’s only now I realize I was looking at Canada and thinking about Canada before I even knew it. If that’s not destiny, I don’t know what is.”
We’re still a tad bitter for that time last November when our favourite Swedish pop singer cancelled her hugely hyped Sound Academy concert mere hours before show time. Luckily, Robyn is back in the city and making up for lost time at the brand-new Echo Beach venue. And for those who only know her for her mid-’90s anthem “Show Me Love,” we recommend checking out some of her impossibly catchy new stuff. June 3. $29.50–$39.50. Echo Beach at Molson Amphitheatre, 909 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.
2. DIANA: LIFE OF A ROYAL ICON
The Royal Wedding may have reignited interest in Prince William’s dad, but we’re pretty sure the public’s interest in Princess Diana never really waned in the years since her death. This show at the Design Exchange invites fans to gawk at the Princess’s most famous gowns—like ones she wore for Vanity Fair photo shoots or White House dinners—before they hit the auction block on June 23. To June 10. $10. Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., 416-363-6121, dx.org.
The Royal Wedding is more than just another way for Canadians to express their fondness for the motherland; Kate and Will are also the hottest celebrity couple du jour. Hardcore wedding watchers of either stripe will want to secure their Friday morning plans in advance. To whit, here are six restaurants celebrating the Royal Wedding on April 29 in style. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Over the next couple of years, this city will get five new luxury hotels. It starts with the Thompson, which opens its high-concept doors this month and promises to be ground zero for the beautiful people
Lately, King West is an urban cloud nine: designer condos, old brick studio spaces, fantastic carpaccio. Only 15 years ago, no one had much reason to venture down here—not for work, not to live, not for a dining scene, because there wasn’t one. There were no ad agencies, no Susur Lee joints, no Spoke Club and certainly no boutique hotels. But now the dozen or so blocks bounded by Spadina and Bathurst, from Adelaide down to Wellington, are a humming, self-sustaining ecosystem—a model of how to retrofit a vintage downtown neighbourhood.
Real estate agents call this part of town King West Village, a handle the locals find too artificial to pass their lips, especially considering the place isn’t yet fully formed. At every turn, there’s a construction site, or a gaping hole in the ground, or a lot with a target on its back, almost all of them bearing the same signage: an artful graphic in lower case letters saying “freed.” It’s not an existentialist statement; “Freed” stands for Peter Freed, the Forest Hill–bred developer who has nine projects on the go in the area. No one has been a bigger catalyst of the evolution of King West, or capitalized on it more, than Freed. His real estate portfolio, mainly condos, is worth $1 billion, and much of it is geared to a highly specific breed: a 35-ish, design-obsessed demographic that wears Japanese denim, listens to Phoenix, works in advertising or banking or consults in high tech, travels often and widely, and stays at properties designed by Ian Schrager, the Manhattan entrepreneur often credited with founding the boutique hotel genre. In King West, Freed has prepared a landing strip for these hipster high flyers (and those who aspire to become them). They’re not rich, necessarily. Their ambition is to be tastefully in the know.
For them, Freed has invested in a crowning achievement, a gleefully anticipated light box on Wellington: the 102-room Thompson Toronto, which is scheduled to open its high-concept doors this month. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »