Ossington’s Singaporean snack shop, Hawker Bar—currently the size of a street-food stall—is expanding its business to the second floor. Thirty extra seats are being added to the upstairs dining room along with another service bar, and the restaurant will take reservations (which are something of a rarity on the strip). New additions to the menu will include chef Alec Martin’s take on a Black Angus strip loin; braised duck legs served with a Thai red curry; veggie rendang; and a coconut milk–marinated fried chicken that’ll replace the Hainanese chicken rice. The changes should take place on or around Valentine’s Day, so plan on having a little more legroom to slurp a bowl of something spicy (like this fiery laksa soup) with someone special.
Yours Truly, the Ossington restaurant known for its gorgeous tasting meals, will be saying farewell to the strip in characteristically sumptuous style. On Tuesday, September 30, the restaurant will host “Last Seating,” a 20-course tasting feast showcasing chef Lachlan Culjak’s uniquely whimsical approach to fine dining, with emphasis on cuisine from his native Nova Scotia. The dinner will be co-hosted by Peter J. Gamble, the head wine consultant at Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge winery, and the $200 price tag includes wine and cocktail pairings (but not for all 20 courses, because that would be ridiculous). If you’re interested, don’t dither—seats are sure to fill up fast.
Sept. 30. $200. Yours Truly, 229 Ossington Ave., 416-533-2243
Contact Info: 80 Ossington Ave., mamakas.ca, @mamakasTO
Previously: Fancy design shop Ministry of Interior
Owner: Thanos Tripi
Chef: Former Trinity Taverna chefs Seb Yacoubidian and Pierre Restivo
The Food: Mamakas—a term of endearment for “mother”—serves traditional mezze and grilled meats inspired by coastal Greek and Turkish cuisine. Many of the dishes are ones that owner Thanos Tripi grew up with, including flaky spanakopita and whipped taramosalata topped with salmon roe. Among the heartier options, a whole seabass is brushed with latholemono (a classic Greek blend of lemon, olive oil and garlic) and grilled over a hot flame, while lamb-chop lollipops are flavoured with oregano and served with garlicky tzatziki. On the sweeter side, the bougasta brings a tower of crisp phyllo pastry layered with orange semolina custard and topped with a gooey honeyed fig. Read the rest of this entry »
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Summer nights on Ossington have become even busier now that Bang Bang, the ice cream parlour and bakery that sells the world’s most delicious ice-cream sandwiches, has set up shop on the strip. Fashionably disheveled locals have taken to congregating around the little store—some waiting in line, others just hanging out after a bowl of pho at Golden Turtle or a pint at Bellwoods Brewery. The style is relaxed and unique: we spotted an off-duty model strolling to dinner in metallic Proenza Schouler sandals, a music composer in a slouchy beanie and a very smiley toddler in a nautical jumpsuit. The people we talked to raved about Ossington’s restaurants, vintage shops and theatre culture. Most, however, were united in their distaste for the rowdy weekend nightlife.
The Ossington Stop (formerly Ossington Station) is a new late-night snack bar on Dundas, just west of Ossington. The bare-bones room—formerly the Arrow Café—has a bar, a few high-top tables and an open kitchen. It also has some of the neighbourhood’s most inexpensive alcoholic beverages. With pints priced at $4, wine at $5 and double shots of Jameson at $7, this is the kind of place where an entire night’s booze supply could end up costing less than the cab ride home. The food is cheap, too, and a tad eclectic; right now, the menu lists about eight items, including chili dogs, garlicky pickled vegetables and tasty Khinkali dumplings—soft doughy pockets filled with spiced ground beef, onions and hot, salty broth.
The Ossington Stop, 1164 Dundas St. W., @OssingtonStop
The Ossington strip now has an indie coffee shop, an ice-cream parlour and, as of June 14, its very own farmers’ market—a sign, perhaps, that the neighbourhood is growing out of the sweaty-dancing-till-dawn phase, and into something a bit more mature, at least in an Ossington-y kind of way. Case in point: the strip’s weekly produce sale isn’t being held in a park, or even a parking lot. Rather, it’s happening inside Boehmer, one of the bigger and fancier restaurants on the south end of the strip. Starting the week after next and continuing every Saturday morning until September, members of the Grey County Chefs’ Forum—a consortium of 35 Ontario farms who market their goods directly to chefs and other commercial buyers—will be selling heritage veggies and grass-fed meats at the restaurant. Boehmer will also be serving snacks, coffee and—because of course it is—booze. Ossington: where even grocery shopping is a party.
June 14–Sept. 1, 9-1. Boehmer, 93 Ossington Ave., boehmer.ca
Bang Bang is a new ice-cream parlour and bakery on the southern end of Ossington, sandwiched between Boehmer restaurant and hip handicraft shop Crywolf. It’s run by Rosanne Pezzelli, the pastry master behind nearby Bakerbots, and her brother, Arthur, who just happens to make killer ice cream. Last Saturday afternoon, the scene outside the new store looked like something out of a Portlandia sketch: a group of tat-sleeved models posed for photographs in front of a nearby boutique while happy locals lounged in the sun with cones, cups and cookie sandwiches big enough to require a double-handed grip. The list of ice-cream flavours ranges from classic (vanilla) to unconventional (avocado), but the best of the lot may be “burnt toffee”—a vanilla-caramel blend that tastes exactly like a fire-roasted marshmallow.
Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery, 93 Ossington Ave.
Victoire sells the kind of cute-but-edgy clothes and accessories that should make it a hit with its new Ossington clientele. The store already has two boutiques in Ottawa, where it’s known as the go-to shop for cute dresses. Owners Regine Paquette and Katie Frappier decided to expand to Toronto when one of their own staff, Kristina Smith, was ready to relocate and run the new operation. Read the rest of this entry »
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How Jackie O’Brien, owner of streetwear shop Jonathan and Olivia, would spend a perfect Saturday on Ossington
“My husband, Nic, and I chose to set up our shop on Ossington because of its mix of new, dirty, gritty and dynamic. I can’t imagine Jonathan and Olivia being anywhere else. In the morning, we’ll go to Crafted by Te Aro (135 Ossington Ave., 416-645-0273). Nic is a coffee-head, but I like their raspberry lemonade and fantastic chocolate cookies. We have a 20-month-old son, Phoenix, and we take him and our French bulldog, Estelle, to Trinity Bellwoods Park and to the community rec centre there (155 Crawford St., 416-392-0743) for a swim. We’ll wander back up Ossington to Côte de Boeuf (130 Ossington Ave., 416-532-2333) to pick up sausages and little jars of imported condiments for dinner. Nic knows the owner from Paris, where he’s from, and the shop has a French style that makes him feel at home. Just because we’re parents doesn’t mean we don’t go out. We’re always at Union (72 Ossington Ave., 416-850-0093) drinking wine—usually a French red—and we like to split the charcuterie plate and fries. When you’re in a neighbourhood for a long time, you find places you love and stick with them. Sweaty Betty’s (13 Ossington Ave., 416-535-6861) is one of those spots for us. We’ll end up on their great patio—the one with the tree in the middle—at the end of the night with a couple of pints.”
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.
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Crywolf, the five-year-old brand started by Toronto artists Rose Chang and Stephanie Drabik, now has its first standalone store on the boutique-dotted Ossington strip. After gaining a devoted following selling their handcrafted accessories and screen-printed T-shirts online and at local craft fairs and pop-up shops, the DIYers decided to gamble on a brick-and-mortar shop (which is being funded in part through a crowd-sourced campaign). Doubling as the duo’s studio space, the shop carries Crywolf’s collectibles and clothing for men, women and kids, alongside jewellery, stationery and trinkets from a roster of mostly local designers. The stock ranges from practical preppy rope leashes to downright quirky monster-shaped ring holders and cartoon sumo pins. Teeth-achingly adorable? Yes. Cool? Very.
91 Ossington Avenue, crywolfclothing.com
Ossington’s cadre of hip boutiques keeps growing, most recently with the launch of Pop-Up 120, a wholesale-retail hybrid from fashion distributor Agency One. Each season, the revolving pop-up store in the front of the agency’s head office will feature one of the international brands that it also distributes to stores like Barneys, Holt Renfrew and TNT. First up: rocker clothing label Religion, whose hard-edged, East London roots are reflected in goth chandeliers, paintings of British monarchs and silver skulls. Starting in August, the space will be pared down for Ganni, a line out of Copenhagen with a clean, modern aesthetic, followed by artsy Australian brand Something Else.
Open W-Su 11– 7. 120 Ossington Avenue, 416-703-2916, Facebook
It’s 4 p.m. on Friday, and you don’t have a dinner reservation. Still, there’s no need to fret (or waste your night waiting for a table). We just called some of the city’s hottest restaurants and found three that can squeeze in two for dinner tonight. Now it’s up to you to get dialing and snag a table before they’re all gone. Today: Union, Origin Liberty, and Aria. Read the rest of this entry »
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