King West

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Flock Rotisserie and Greens, Cory Vitiello’s quick-service chicken spot in the core

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: Flock Rotisserie and Greens
Contact: 330 Adelaide St. W., 647-483-5625, eatflock.com, @EatFlock
Neighbourhood: King West
Owner: Cory Vitiello and Chris Shiki (The Harbord Room)
Chef: Etienne Regis

The Food: Exactly what the name suggests—chicken (naturally raised without hormones or antibiotic, natch) and salad. The golden-brown bird is served four ways at this quick-service spot: whole, halved, quartered and pulled, but Vitiello insists, “Just because there’s over a dozen mesmerizing self-basting chickens in plain sight, that doesn’t mean you have to get one—our salads are just as much the main event.” Customers can choose from five pre-designed salads or create their own custom greens. What sets the grab-and-go salad bar apart from the rest of the (ahem) flock are the interesting mix-ins: wheat and goji berries, pomegranate seeds, orange segments and French lentils can all be tossed into a bowl. And for folks looking for a quick dinner, there’s an after-work special that includes a whole rotisserie chicken, a large salad and two sides (steamed acorn squash and rotisserie-roasted sweet potatoes).

The Drinks: Right now, the boozeless bird joint just has a selection of San Pellegrino sparklers.

The Space: It’s all function over fashion at this 14-stool spot. Save for a multi-tiered chandelier, the rotisserie itself is the main attraction. Vitiello wanted all of the customers’ attention to be focused on the slowly rotating flock of fowl.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $6.5 million for a King West sky mansion with an infinity pool

toronto-condo-of-the-week-500-wellington-street-west-intro

Address: 500 Wellington Street West, Unit 701
Neighbourhood: King West
Agent: Jonathan Ferrier, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Brokerage
Price: $6,500,000

The Place: A luxury full-floor unit with private elevator access in a boutique King West building.

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The Dish

Coffee and Tea

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West coast coffee chain Milano opens in Toronto

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

 

Vancouver’s Milano Coffee has opened its first Toronto location, giving those in the core another way to stay caffeinated. The west coast chain that started as a family-run business in 1984 (and was once sweet-talked by Starbucks) has set up shop on Adelaide, right next to Fire Station 332. Milano’s roaster for almost three decades, Brian Turko, creates the shop’s blends at his B.C. facility. For the coffee geeks, all of the chain’s brews are made with the Aurelia II T3 espresso machine—the same one used in the World Barista Championships. Customers in a rush can get their joe to-go, but those with time on their hands can step up to the tasting bar for one of five (or, if they really need a boost, all five) espresso shots. Seating is available in the café, but come summer (remember summer?) Milano will open its patio so guests can caffeinate al fresco.

266 Adelaide St. W., 647-344-6566, milanocoffee.ca@milanotoronto

The Dish

Free Stuff

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Get an entire free lunch at Big Smoke Burger

(Image: Big Smoke Burger )

(Image: Big Smoke Burger )

Next Tuesday—that’s February 17—Big Smoke Burger‘s flagship location on King West is reopening after closing for renovations last November. To celebrate, they’re giving away burgers, fries and fountain drinks for free to anyone who shows up. Customers will be able to choose from a four-ounce classic burger or cheeseburger. Each will be served with ‘the works’ (iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion, sliced pickles, ketchup, mayonnaise, dijon mustard and fresh jalapeno), unless otherwise requested. Instead of payment, Big Smoke is asking customers make a donation to the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club, every dollar of which the burger joint will match. The patties will be passed out starting at 11 a.m., so get there early.

Tues. Feb. 17, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., 573 King St. W., 416-596-6660, bigsmokeburger.com

The Dish

New Reviews

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Review: At King West’s Wilbur Mexicana, grilled veggies are the way to go

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Wilbur Mexicana 1 star
552 King St. W., 416-792-1878
Wilbur Mexicana 1 star
552 King St. W., 416-792-1878

Somewhere on the spectrum between Mexican fast food chains and hipster taco joints is Wilbur on King West. Diners order at the counter, grab bottles of Mexican cerveza (or craft sodas from a state-of-the-art fountain) and take a seat in a sleek room with floor-to-ceiling windows, subway tile and dark wood accents. There’s a self-serve hot sauce and salsa bar, with house-made condiments like a tart pineapple-habanero salsa—the perfect pairing for a grilled avocado taco layered with feta-like cotija cheese and a smoky-creamy chipotle crema. The pulled pork burrito is dry and under-salted, but grilled Mexican street corn smothered in more crema and cotija is a savoury-sweet winner. No desserts.

Have an opinion on Wilbur Mexicana? Add your review here »

The Dish

New Reviews

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Review: Parlor Foods and Co. serves Canadiana (and oddly delicious cheddar ice cream) on King West

Introducing: Parlor Foods

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

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Parlor Foods and Co. 1 star
333 King St. W., 416-596-0004
Parlor Foods and Co. 1 star
333 King St. W., 416-596-0004

Barnboard and burlap give Parlor a cottagey feel. On the menu are the hallmarks of modern Canadian cuisine: maple syrup, smoked salmon and pickerel, and local wines, small-batch spirits and craft beers. Onion tots, served piping hot from the fryer, are crunchy but filled with overly sweet caramelized onions. The accompanying aioli with sumac, coriander and scapes is good, but it can’t save the tots. Lobster carbonara brings perfectly poached claw meat, guanciale and rich egg yolk atop slightly claggy fettuccine. The butter tart brings a small mason jar of undercooked custard and two freshly baked shortbread cookies in place of a crust—it doesn’t work all that well. Instead, opt for buttery apple strudels topped with odd-yet-delicious cheddar ice cream.

Have an opinion on Parlor Foods and Co.? Add your review here »

The Dish

Restaurants

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Here’s where the new Libretto and Porchetta restaurants will be opening on King West

(Image: Caroline Youdan)

(Image: Caroline Youdan)

Some things just go well together, like huge pork sandwiches and Neapolitan pizzas. At least, that’s the theory behind the upcoming side-by-side locations of Pizzeria Libretto and Porchetta and Co., which are getting ready to open at 545 King West, just east of Portland Street. (That location puts the adjoining restaurants in good culinary company—Buca, Bar Buca, Portland Variety and Patria are all within a block or two.) Last fall, Libretto’s Max Rimaldi and Porchetta’s Nick auf der Mauer said their goal was to open both restaurants by the end of 2014. That deadline is now looming, but it seems like the neighbourhood may have to wait a little longer. “As of now we have not set an opening date,” said auf der Mauer in a recent email exchange. In the meantime, area residents who aren’t already familiar with Porchetta and Co. may want to check out the restaurant’s Instagram feed, which captures some truly breathtaking sandwich artistry.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the King West loft that shows what $1 million gets you downtown

toronto-sale-of-the-week-436-wellington-street-west-intro

Address: 436 Wellington Street West, Unit 301
Neighbourhood: King West
Agent: Dragi Dodevski, Royal LePage Your Community Realty, Brokerage

The Property: An elevator opens directly into the den of this hard loft, which features original exposed beam-and-brick walls throughout, as well as 10-foot ceilings. It occupies the entire south side of the Monarch Building’s third floor, granting it views to the south, east and west.

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The Dish

New Reviews

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Review: Portland Variety is a low-key surprise on clubby King West

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

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Portland Variety 2 star½
587 King St. W., 416-368-5151

This serene new tapas bar is a delightfully low-key surprise in the middle of the King West fracas. (Imagine the also-good Patria just up the street but without the ostentation and slavish devotion to Iberian purity.) Though you wouldn’t know it on first glance. The pristine white-on-gray room is decked out in neighbourhood-appropriate tufted leather banquettes and marble, and the servers sport hokey gingham shirts bound in old-timey suspenders, but beneath the trendy veneer is a refreshingly simple and down-to-earth Spanish(ish) menu.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Portland Variety, the new tapas restaurant on King West from the owners of Le Gourmand

Name: Portland Variety
Neighbourhood: King West
Contact Info: 587 King St. W., 416-368-5151, @PortlandVariety
Owner: Ralf Madi and Milton Nunes of Le Gourmand
Chef: Jo Castrinos, formerly of Patria and Splendido

The Food: For sit-down meals in the restaurant’s dining room, chef Castrinos borrows from French, North African, Spanish and even Greek cuisine to create a menu of not-quite-traditional tapas plates, like grilled octopus with smoked tomatoes and a whole sliced rib eye served with caramelized onions. Casual snackers can pair their cocktails with a rotating selection of pinxtos (small Spanish snacks) in the front café area, where tiny skewered bites are artfully displayed on the marble bar.

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The Goods

Stores

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Store Guide: Da Zoo, a King West boutique with an impressive lineup of avant-garde designers

Store Guide: Da Zoo
Name: Da Zo0
Sells: Avant-garde menswear, womenswear, accessories and shoes
Contact info: 613 King St. W., 416-792-5050, da-zooo.com
Hours: M-W 10-6, Th-F 10-8, Sa 10-6, Su 1-5
See it on a map »

Da Zoo, the new store from habitual boutique owner Peter Halpin, exemplifies the kind of cool, eccentric vibe that independent boutiques excel at and corporate-owned stores can never quite pull off. For the King West shop, Halpin teamed with another Toronto style stalwart, Jakub Szczepaniak, to find the right medley of established designers (Rick Owens Drkshdw, Vivienne Westwood, DSquared2) and lesser-known labels (Undercover by Jun Takahashi, Alexandre Plokhov and the insanely exclusive Geoffrey B. Small). A somewhat more reasonably-priced in-house line, 613 King, rounds out the mix.

Our favourite pieces have unique design details that, coupled with the taxidermy and oddities lining the walls, give the store a playful vibe. A pair of Maison Martin Margiela boots, for instance, have subtle reflective perforations that light up in flash photos ($1,250) and a rope-like scarf tapers into ends that looks like horse tails ($250). With Zeppelin pumping over the speakers and Bay Street wild-card Michael Wekerle as executive director, the shop exudes the swagger of an aging rocker—in the best way possible.

See inside »

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Pizzeria Libretto and Porchetta and Co. to open side-by-side restaurants along King West’s trattoria-thon strip

 

Porchetta-LibrettoRemember when Pizzeria Libretto featured a delicious pizza inspired by Porchetta and Co.? Well, that moment of food nirvana is about to hit the city again, only in a much bigger way: Libretto and Porchetta are set to open new locations next door to each other on King West next year. Nick auf der Mauer (owner of Porchetta and Co.) and Max Rimaldi (co-owner of Pizzeria Libretto) have confirmed to us that they are expanding with separate restaurants that will be attached at the hip. The new restaurants will be located somewhere between Bathurst and Spadina, where there’s no shortage of competition—Buca, Buonanotte, Cibo Wine Bar, Gusto 101, Scarpetta and Tutti Matti are all within walking distance.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $780,000 for a two-storey loft in a former perfumery on King West

Condo of the Week: 833 King Street West, Penthouse 607

Address: 833 King Street West, Penthouse 607
Neighbourhood: Niagara
Agent: Elizabeth Machula and Chris Dawson. Re/Max Condos Plus Corp., Brokerage
Price: $779,900

The Place: A two-bedroom, two-level unit in a 1930s-era perfume factory at King and Niagara.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Quoted: David Mirvish can’t believe the city won’t embrace his Frank Gehry mega-development

(Image: George Pimentel/WireImage/Getty)

I’m bemused because I thought I would be welcome with open arms, and that there wasn’t a more appropriate place for this type of activity than this block on King Street.

David Mirvish, on the unproductive, year-long negotiations with city planners over his proposed condo mega-project designed by Frank Gehry. The city is balking at the King West development’s height and density, and the four heritage buildings that would have to come down to make way for it. Meanwhile, Mirvish says that downsizing the already tweaked designs would completely derail the architecturally ambitious project. Come January, Mirvish plans to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, which, given its pro-development reputation, we’re betting will give the proposal the green light. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Real Estate

4 Comments

Condo Showdown: five Liberty Village units for under $550,000

Condo Showdown: Five condos in Liberty Village for around $500,000Liberty Village has morphed from an industrial dead zone into an enclave of concrete, glass and brick in just a few years. Since units are more affordable than in King West proper, the neighbourhood is popular with first-time buyers (young professionals also appreciate the proximity to necessities like a Starbucks, an LCBO, a grocery store, banks, pubs and trendy furniture stores). A budget of about $500,000 will easily cover a two-bedroom condo in one of the newer towers, but those set on a loft-style apartment will have to compromise on amenities or space (or both). Here, five properties recently on the market.

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