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The Informer

Culture

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15 signs you grew up in Toronto in the 1980s

80s-Intro

Nostalgia is more than just the latest internet meme. It taps into a primal and powerful part of our collective identity. The web’s latest deluge of look-back content got us sharing memories here at Toronto Life. It wasn’t long before we had pages and pages of notes about how our city once was, and the experiences that determined our sense of civic pride and shame. (In ten years, there will a post like this heavily featuring Rob Ford). We’ve compiled our favourites from the decade of huge hair, 1050 CHUM and Art Eggleton. Here, 15 signs you grew up in Toronto in the 1980s.

 

1. You crammed onto the Spadina Bus while singing “Spadina Bus”

The old Spadina 77 buses seemed to come every five seconds, yet they were always sweaty, crammed and infuriating (unlike today’s modern TTC). You could get through it by singing the Shuffle Demons’ delightful “Spadina Bus”—a surprise top-40 hit from 1986. The 77 route was eliminated in the ’90s when Spadina Avenue was revamped to reinstate the 510 streetcar. And the fate of the Shuffle Demons? One of them is running for mayor.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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50 Reasons to Love Toronto: No.30, There’s a hidden watering hole called Goodnight in an alley at Richmond and Spadina

No.30 There’s a party behind this door

(Image: Lisa Gent)

The first rule of Goodnight is: don’t talk about Goodnight. The hidden watering hole, located behind a buzzer-access metal door at the end of a dark, graffiti-covered alley at Richmond and Spadina, opened last September, just in time to be Harvey Weinstein’s unofficial TIFF clubhouse. To a certain nightlife species—people who experience a frisson entering a bar with a strict reservations-only policy—Goodnight is proof that Toronto has arrived. The list of regulars includes erstwhile politicas like Belinda Stronach (who often stops in with her boyfriend, Harbord Room chef Corey Vitiello), indie darlings like Metric’s Emily Haines, and professional partiers like Ashleigh Dempster, the co-founder of social climbers’ club The Society (she’s also married to Matt George, one of Goodnight’s owners). Once you get past the door, it’s remarkably cool. Imagine a pub designed by Wallpaper magazine: the raw wood bar is supported by metal radiators; a wooden staircase leads nowhere; vintage posters of Communist leaders and sewing patterns line the walls. And a list of potent concoctions like the Fat Sailor (three types of rum and Tia Maria) and the Bunny Hug (equal parts Canadian Club, gin and absinthe) puts even the most aloof A-lister in a frisky, feel-good mood.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Briscola, Cinq 01’s rustic Italian successor

Inside Briscola Trattoria (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Briscola, the new rustic Italian restaurant from Ink Entertainment’s Charles Khabouth and Amber’s Toufik Sarwa, opened last Friday to the packed crowds one would expect from a collaboration between the two nightlife vets. After taking over the space of Sarwa’s short-lived Cinq 01 restaurant, Briscola apparently saw visits from Ben Mulroney and Galen Weston Jr. on its first weekend.

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The Dish

Deathwatch

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La Palette shuttering its Kensington location this weekend

When Shamez Amlani muses about this coming Sunday, it’s not without a little sentimentality. Three days from now, the restaurant he co-owns in Kensington Market, La Palette, will shut its doors for good so that he and his team can concentrate on the Queen West location. Ten years ago, Amlani and his associates applied a meagre $18,000 to a grungy Chinese joint and turned it into an edgy French bistro. They never imagined that it would have taken off the way it did. “It’s a miracle,” Amlani tell us. “We shot at the moon, and we actually hit it.”

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The Dish

Deathwatch

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Ten signs of the death of the Entertainment District

The canary in clubland: Circa closed earlier this year (Image: Divya Thakur)

The condo invasion is old news to all of Toronto. Except clubland. The point of packing dozens of nightclubs into one area was to contain the noise and stumbling Paris Hilton wannabes, hence the lack of pricey real estate in the Entertainment District. But, as the Toronto Star reports, only about 30 clubs are open for business today in the area between Richmond and Wellington around John Street, down from almost 90 five years ago. With city proposals to build more condos and other developments, the end of clubland as we know it is near. Here, 10 reasons why the fist-pumping hub is on its last legs.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Crafted by Te Aro. I Deal Coffee gets some competition on Ossington

Ossington’s nightlife is alive and well, but the strip can be quite dead in daylight hours—there’s I Deal Coffee and, well, not much else. Perhaps that’s why Crafted by Te Aro is full of coffee drinkers and laptops, despite the fact that it’s been open for only a week. The café is essentially Te Aro’s second outpost, allowing people in the west end to experience what made its Leslieville counterpart so popular: coffee made from beans roasted on the premises, classes on how to make a better cup, and a quiet, relaxed atmosphere in which customers don’t have to shout their order to the barista. It even has a glass garage door similar to the other shop’s, though co-owners Jessie and Andy Wilkin says it was a necessity—the window was about to fall out when they took over the space from the Get Real! Café two months ago.

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The Informer

Politics

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Never there: the adventures of our errant councillors

It might seem that our city councillors would get into less trouble if they’d just stop showing up at work. At least then they wouldn’t get dragged into debates about the proper place of God in this city (oh, wait, that happened anyway). Alas, it turns out that if showing up for your job gets you into trouble, not showing up gets you in at least as much trouble. The Toronto Star reported over the weekend that of the councillors who are currently running for the mayor’s office, none of them have a spotless record, though Joe Pantalone comes close.

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The Informer

People

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Lee’s Palace has wrong Google Maps address because it allegedly wants only “cool people” there

This is where Toronto's uncool population thinks Lee's is (Image: Google Maps)

Most Torontonians know that Lee’s Palace is just east of Bathurst on Bloor, but for out-of-towners, the concert venue is at Bloor and Sherbourne. That’s because the club’s Google Map listing places it at 529 Bloor Street East (rather than West). When Jen, a concert-goer who’d been misled by the map, called Lee’s to inform management of the error, she apparently got a bitchy message from someone at the venue, who said the wrong address was purposely listed to keep the riff-raff out. Well, Jen is not going to take it; she took to her blog, Jenerally Speaking (where she ponders such questions as “What’s up with guys who love to bake but swear they are straight?”), to call Lee’s out. Here’s the message she says the venue left her:

“Hi Jen, I’m calling from Lee’s Palace. We actually put our address on Google incorrectly so that only cool people know where it is, and it keeps all the people that aren’t cool out. We only want cool people here, so we’re sorry about that.” And then the a-hole sarcastically finished with, “So we’ll get on that lawsuit with Google to solve the address situation immediately.”

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The Dish

Neighbourhoods

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The Roncesvalles Guide: Our 25 favourite eating and shopping destinations along Parkdale’s Polish drag

Referred to as Little Poland by long-time residents and Roncey by the younger crowd, the Roncesvalles strip is one of the few neighbourhoods in the city that has earned its “hip” label without been invaded by raucous nightlifers. Progress keeps marching forward here, despite an ongoing road rehabilitation project that has claimed a few business causalities. We recommend spending a spring Saturday visiting these 25 spots.

(Thumbnail credit: 416 style)

The Goods

Weddings

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Ask the expert: one of Toronto’s most popular wedding DJs

Lisa Ng started deejaying weddings in her last year at U of T and found her calling. Now the bubbly audiophile is one of the most popular mix masters on the circuit.

Photograph by Vanessa Heins

Do you ever get guff for being a female DJ?
My crew—there are three or four of us—is all women. At some banquet halls, we come in and they ask if we’re the backup dancers or the wedding planners. Guys are always surprised to see a 100-pound girl carrying enormous speakers around.

Any advice for couples planning the entertainment?
Don’t program the entire night. The bride and groom should communicate the vibe they want: have genres and artists in mind, and make a must-play list of 15 songs. Then let the DJ use her expertise to read the crowd.

What song would you play to get Grandma on the dance floor?
“Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. Even if she’s kind of shy and not a dancer at all, she will always twist.

How can you avoid a disastrous first-dance song?
Avoid any song over four minutes. People get bored watching the couple spin in a circle, and I think it’s boring for the couple, too.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Toronto is now out-partying Montreal

After years of being known for its rather conservative party scene, is Toronto finally getting its act together? Resto-lounge mogul Toufik Sarwa says yes; in fact, Toronto now outshines Montreal as the best party city in the country, he tells BlogTO.

Ten years ago, I wanted to get the hell out of here. Now you couldn’t push me out. Even New York has reached its nighttime apex, and there’s a feeling in Toronto that it’s continually evolving and still has room to grow…that’s a good feeling.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Sunday and Monday, Toronto’s “other weekend,” brings inexpensive booze to the server set

After settling the tabs of Friday parties, Saturday pub crawls and Sunday brunches, a segment of Toronto gears up to celebrate the “other weekend”—Sunday and Monday. On those evenings, business owners cater to hairstylists, musicians, event planners, promoters, bouncers and other members of the service industry. “They don’t get to experience the weekend nightlife,” Mathew Tsoumaris, marketing director at Uniq Lifestyle, which owns Cheval, told the Star, “so we give them a discounted night.”

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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$135 beer, Rolling Stone to open nightclub, guilt-free carbohydrates

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Well rested: the perfect steak (Photo by Robin)

• The folks at Anheuser-Busch really had us going last summer with their “I like getting it in the can” ads. (They were talking about Bud Light Lime–aren’t sexual innuendoes hilarious?) Well, they’re at it again with a new ad set to debut in Canada on Sunday, and this time contraceptives provide the ambiguity: “I like having fun, but I always use one,” or “If you care about me, you’re gonna use one.” They’re talking about designated drivers, silly. [Globe and Mail]

• Good things come to those who wait, and that cliché applies to steak, too. Apparently, the simple act of letting a steak rest for 10 minutes or so after cooking it makes a world of difference in flavour and juiciness. The folks at Serious Eats, as expected, provide a thorough explanation of why a rested steak is always better, but the proof is in the photos: once cut, a fresh-off-the-grill steak leaks copious amounts of juice onto the plate, while a rested steak leaks almost none. [Serious Eats]

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The Dish

Openings

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Here comes the Rain again: a peek inside Guy and Michael Rubino’s Ame

Guy Rubino mans the grill at Ame (All photos by Davida Aronovitch)

Guy Rubino mans the grill at Ame, the restaurant he and his brother, Michael, have opened in collaboration with Charles Khabouth (All photos by Davida Aronovitch)

After over six months of renovations and about two months of delay, Guy and Michael Rubino’s Rain has been reborn as Ame (Japanese for, what else, “rain”). The brothers are known for frequent reinvention (Zoom, Luce and the reality series Made to Order), and for this latest transformation, they have teamed up with the club mogul Charles Khabouth. Ame presents the chic Japanese aspects of Rain’s Asian fusion and swaps the former restaurant’s special-occasion appeal for a casual vibe.

The interior of Ame is by Khabouth’s go-to designers, Munge Leung (Ultra, Guvernment); the one-room open concept has been transformed into a seductive labyrinth of spaces. An inviting lounge of chunky low-rise furniture is flanked by a sexy backlit bar. The sashimi counter wraps around the traditional coal-burning robata grill—Guy’s culinary cornerstone, on which the Iron Chef sears Australian wagyu flatiron and strip loin steak, cut to order. The adjacent dining area is splintered into tidy nooks; a private room beckons recluses and TIFF types. The full menu is available in all spaces, to entice barflies and foodies alike.

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