Queen West

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Restaurants

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Patrick Kriss to bring refined dining to Queen and Spadina with Alo

(Image: Renée Suen)

Patrick Kriss at Alo’s pass (Image: Renée Suen)

Last November, ex-Acadia chef Patrick Kriss announced he was opening his own restaurant in Toronto. Alo is now slated to start serving guests at the end of July. For this project, Kriss has paired up with Amanda Bradley (George, and France’s Michelin-starred La Grenouillère) to bring refined but approachable dining to a city that’s seen its share of tacos and ramen. Housed two floors above Hero Burger at Queen and Spadina, Alo (which comes from the Latin for “nourish”) will bring a touch of class to the intersection but will still be “fun, not fussy and no tablecloths,” says Kriss.

The tasting menu–only spot will serve guests a selection of seasonal courses (with options available) prepared using French techniques, as well as a longer menu to the folks who manage to snag one of six kitchen-facing stools. Dessert will come courtesy of ex-Canoe pastry chef Cori Murphy, who most recently worked at Montreal’s Patrice Pâtissier. For those who don’t feel like committing to a tasting menu, Bar Alo, the restaurant’s 20-seat section manned by John Bunner (Byblos, Toronto Temperance Society), will serve shareable small plates inspired by the restaurant’s main dishes.

163 Spadina Ave., 3rd Fl., 416-260-2222, alorestaurant.com, @AloRestaurant

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Openings

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Introducing: Stelvio, a northern Italian trattoria on Queen West

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Name: Stelvio
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact: 354 Queen St. W., 416-205-1001, stelviotoronto.ca
Previously: BQM Burger
Owner: Andrea Copreni (Hotel Sottovento, Italy)
Chef: Massimo Provenzano

The Food: Northern Italian cuisine from Valtellina, an Alps-adjacent valley in the country’s Lombardy region. The menu includes snacks like sciatt, a type of cheese-filled fritter; meat (especially bresaola) and cheese boards; largely gluten-free buckwheat pasta dishes (with very long, Italian names); and polenta. For lunch, there’s a selection of panini.

The Drinks: A few bottled beers (Früli, Erdinger, Stiegl), grappa by the ounce, and, of course, Italian wine. Right now, Copreni is waiting to get approval from the LCBO to import and serve wine from Valtellina vintner Rivetti & Lauro. “There are many rules,” he says. “We want only to drink our wine.”

The Space: Monochromatic and decorated with animal prints designed by Copreni’s tattoo artist friend, Giacomo Frigerio. “It’s Queen Street style,” says Copreni. “We came to Toronto last November for the first time, and we fell in love with Queen Street.” The restaurant’s goat logo (also designed by Frigerio) is representative of Northern Italy. “Like the lion in the savannah, the goat is in the Alps.” The street-facing patio will open later this summer.

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Restaurants

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Queen West is getting a Rose and Sons

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

Anthony Rose is at it again, but this time he’s moving away from the empire he’s set up on Dupont. His new spot will be in the space left empty by Swan Restaurant. Just as he did with the 40-year-old People’s Diner, Rose is taking the iconic Queen West spot and making it his own, while leaving the old name intact (it will now be Swan by Rose and Sons). “It’s essentially got the same feeling as Rose and Sons,” says Rose. “You walk in, it’s old and it’s a little bit falling apart, but it’s just perfect.” The food will be a “lighter, more feminine” version of what’s on offer at his Dupont diner, and it will be more “California-driven,” whatever that means. “That’s where my roots are,” Rose says, “I learned to cook in San Francisco, so it’ll be a little San Franciso, California-dreaming kind of diner.” How does that translate on the menu? “Like, delicious.” The new Swan is scheduled to open this summer, which is great timing for the restaurant’s one new addition: a Trinity Bellwoods–facing patio out back. This isn’t the last project for Rose, though: he’s already in the midst of opening yet another spot. Bar Begonia will find a home on Dupont (of course) and will be within walking distance of Rose’s existing “holy trinity” of restaurants.

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Restaurants

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Pop-Up Pick: get Fidel Gastro’s sandwiches at Lisa Marie this Friday

(Images: Fidel Gastro/Instagram)

(Images: Fidel Gastro/Instagram)

It may not be food truck season yet, but on April 17 fans of sidewalk eats can get Fidel Gastro’s sandwiches from its sister brick-and-mortar spot, Lisa Marie. The Queen West restaurant is celebrating its second birthday tomorrow by selling 100 of Fidel’s $5 Philly-style roast pork sammies from its roll-up window between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. And, because stuffed sandwich lunches are notorious for causing those afternoon crashes, Station Coffee Co. will be on site pouring free samples of its cold brew. One caveat: this pop-up is dependent on good weather and will be cancelled if it rains—because nobody likes a soggy sandwich (or getting wet while waiting for one). So, maybe bring a lunch tomorrow, just in case.

Lisa Marie. 638 Queen St. W., 416-999-6822, @fidelgastros

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Openings

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Introducing: Peter Pan, a new take on the decades-old Queen West icon

(Image: Gabby Frank)

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Name: Peter Pan
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact Info: 373 Queen St. W., 416-792-3838, peterpanbistro.ca, @peterpanbistro
Owners: Marty and Noah Goldberg, Jessica Ingwersen
Chef: Noah Goldberg, formerly of The Feasting Room

The Food: Noah Goldberg calls what he’s putting out of his kitchen “refined neighbourhood food”: salmon roulade, bone marrow pizza, duck with beets and warm pig’s head terrine are some of the current dishes on offer. “The food is obviously different than it used to be,” says Goldberg—maybe in reference to the old Pan’s daily pasta special—“but we still want to be a neighbourhood restaurant; we still want locals and tourists and whoever is in this neighbourhood to be able to come in and afford to eat here and have an experience, but we’ve refined that experience a bit.” The menu will change often to reflect what’s in season, but will always adhere to the nose-to-tail and root-to-tip philosophies that Goldberg practiced at The Feasting Room. “I feel really strongly about eating and preparing food in a very conscientious way—not wasting anything and offering people the full picture as opposed to just the standard stuff,” says Goldberg.

The Drinks: Local and international wines (by the glass or bottle), a selection of draught and bottled beer and a concise list of cocktails including the “What’s Up Doc?”—a veggie- and fruit-laced concoction with a glug of vodka.

The Place: For 11 months, Goldberg and his team renovated the space, changing as little as possible: the tin roof, marble bar top, bar back and lights are all original fixtures of the restaurant, dating back to the 1930s.  New to the space, however, are artist Debbie Lawson’s wild but animal-friendly alternatives to wall-mounted taxidermy. Also new: the second floor. Previously a rooming house (and a “real mess,” according to Goldberg), it will be used as a private dining space. As for the backyard patio, it will be back as soon as summer is.

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Restaurants

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Peter Pan Bistro is close to reopening under new ownership

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

After quietly closing last April, there are signs of progress at the corner of Queen and Peter. A sign in the window 0f 373 Queen West announces the second coming of Peter Pan Bistro, and the business—purchased by chef Noah Goldberg (The Feasting Room) and his father, Marty—now has a website. The menu hasn’t been posted yet, but a page promises that it’ll follow the nose-to-tail movement with a selection of classic (but “re-imagined”) European dishes that will change daily. Also re-imagined: carpets.

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A new Chinese bao shop is coming to Queen and Bathurst

(Image: Caroline Youdan)

(Image: Caroline Youdan)

Banh Mi Boys should brace itself for some competition on the steamed-bao front. Mean Bao is already beloved amongst visitors to the Village by the Grange food court near Dundas and McCaul, where it’s been operating since mid-2013. The food counter has a knack for being right on-trend—its menu currently includes steamed-to-order dim sum, hot quinoa boxes with various toppings, and (of course) fluffy Chinese bao stuffed with interesting fillings (braised beef with Taiwanese pickle, for instance, or pulled pork with apple slaw). Now the business is expanding with a new location on Bathurst Street, just south of Queen West. The signage is already up, and recent tweets from the restaurant suggest that the opening date isn’t too far off. In the meantime, the prices alone are worth salivating over.

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Food Shops

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Delica’s gourmet lunches are coming to Queen West

(Image: Delica Kitchen/Facebook)

(Image: Delica Kitchen/Facebook)

Anyone who’s tired of waiting 20 minutes in the takeout line at Fresh may appreciate this: the strip of Queen West near Trinity Bellwoods will soon have a new grab-and-go lunch option. An “Opening Soon” sign recently appeared in the window of 920 Queen West (the space formerly occupied by lingerie shop Nearly Naked) announcing the impending arrival of Delica Kitchen, the café and lunch counter that already has locations in Rosedale and Leslieville. Delica is known for its big baguette sandwiches and wonderful baked goods, including doughnuts from owner Devin Connell’s side business, Paulette’s. Which is all just to say—next year’s Bellwoods picnicking prospects are looking better than ever.

The Goods

Stores

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This new Queen West consignment shop sells barely-used Louis Vuitton, Hermés and Dior

garb

Garb, a new consignment shop on Queen West, is more discriminating than most. (Case in point: its website lists over 100 labels that it absolutely refuses to carry.) Shoppers can stop by to browse the high-end designer stock, which includes silk Hermés scarves, cute Kate Spade backpacks and chic Erdem frocks. Most items are steeply discounted—by up to 75 per cent, depending on the condition (Garb has comprehensive rating system starting with A++, meaning the item is new with tags). We spotted some great deals, including a Vera Wang top for just $45, a Vince cocktail dress for $115 and never-worn Valentino kitten heels for $215. The menswear stock is surprisingly impressive, too: there are sharp dress shirts from brands like Paul Smith and Hugo Boss alongside sophisticated accessories like this printed Giorgio Armani tie. For those who’d prefer to purge their closets, consignors receive an impressive 50-per-cent commission on each item sold.

1046 Queen St. W., garb.ca

The Goods

Shopping

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Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #25. Because Queen West is Blooming

Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #25. Because Queen West is Blooming

(Image: courtesy of Toronto Flower Market)

In this provenance-obsessed city, we swarm to farmers’ markets to discuss soil conditions with the people who grow our organic veggies and supply us with sustainably raised meat. It was only a matter of time before someone applied the same principles to our bouquets. That someone is Natasa Kajganic, a 29-year-old communications consultant who decided Toronto needed its own version of London’s Columbia Road flower market or ­Amsterdam’s Bloemenmarkt—especially since nearby Niagara is home to more than 100 commercial greenhouses. Last year, she launched the Toronto Flower Market, held one Saturday a month during the late spring and summer outside a factory turned event space on Sudbury Street. Local growers laid out rows of fluffy, fragrant peonies, spiky succulents and rainbow-hued gerberas, attracting thousands of people over the course of the season. This May, the market returned with several more vendors and a new, foot traffic–friendly location in an empty Queen West lot across from CAMH. The florists and growers relish the chance to chat with buyers about in-season varieties and proper plant care. And the shoppers get to feel virtuous, knowing their flowers weren’t flown in from farms thousands of miles away.

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Food Shops

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This new food shop on Queen West is a haven for allergy sufferers

Feast

Click to view gallery (Image: Renée Suen)

Sensitive-stomach owners, take note: there’s a new store on Queen West that specializes in stuff that’s unlikely to send you to the ER (or ruin your new diet). The foods for sale at FEAST—which stands, a bit awkwardly, for Fabulous Eats for the Allergic and Sensitive Types—are free from most common food allergens, including gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. The store isn’t just catering to a fad; it’s the brainchild of chef Neil Lomas and his wife, Wendy Zeh, both of whom have spent years struggling to accommodate their respective food allergies and intolerances. The shop’s inventory is the result of their decade-long search for allergy-friendly pantry items, including sauces, pastas and seasonings, each of which has been thoroughly tested for flavour, texture and aroma. Among the prepared foods, shoppers will find jerk-chicken pocket pies, gluten-free cake doughnuts, raw vegan truffles and frozen avocado pops by in-house chocolatier Stacey Burgess, creator of vegan chocolate brand Live On Chocolate.

FEAST, 881 Queen St. W., 647-350-1881, thisisafeast.com, @thisisafeast

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The Ridiculist

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Nine things you can get at Toronto’s new all-bacon restaurant (from least to most ridiculous)

Introducing: Bacon Nation

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Two years ago, Bacon Nation combined two of Toronto’s great guilty pleasures—bacon and deep-fried fairground food—to much fanfare (and really long CNE lines). Now, brothers Andrew and Dan Motta have graduated from snack booth to downtown storefront. Bacon Nation will officially open on Canada Day, but we were curious to see what kind of bacon-on-bacon action was going down at their new shop, so we dropped by for a preview. Here are nine items on the menu, ranked in order of bacon-y ridiculousness.

Bacon Nation, 170 Spadina Ave., baconnation.com

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Openings

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Introducing: The Bristol, a new pub and curry house in The Great Hall on Queen West

food5

Name: The Bristol
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact Info: The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street W., 647-716-6583, @BristolYardie, facebook.com
Owners: Former Bristol Yard owner Davy Love and Nav Sangha, owner of The Great Hall and Wrongbar
Chef: Love is still the exec chef, but he’s hired his old culinary-school pal, Joice Phillip, to act as head chef

The Food: Fans of the Christie location will recognize a similar lineup of British brunch dishes and other pub standards (bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie). New to the menu are five British-style curries, each made with a classic BIR (i.e. British Indian Restaurant) gravy that takes 17 hours to prepare. The curries range from mild to “hallucination-inducing”—the Phall of the Empire curry, for instance, is spiced with ghost peppers.

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Introducing: Smoque N Bones, the new barbeque upstart on Queen West

Introducing: Smoque 'n' Bones

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Name: Smoque N Bones
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Contact Info: 869 Queen St. W., 647-341-5730, @SmoqueNBones
Owner and Chef: Alex Rad

The Food: Southern-smoked (sorry, smoqued) meats, prepped by self-taught Q-er Alex Rad. Pork ribs are carved at the bar and served naked, while butts are smoked for 16 hours, then pulled and piled high on soft buns with creamy coleslaw. Classic Southern sides include pulled-pork potato salad and collard greens, which are steamed to order and served with hunks of ham hock.

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Restaurants

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Coming to Queen West: an all-bacon restaurant

(Image: Bacon Nation/Instagram)

(Image: Bacon Nation/Instagram)

For anyone wondering about all the pro-bacon propaganda plastered across the storefront at 170 Spadina Avenue, here’s what’s going on. The address, formerly home to long-term sandwich pop-up Come and Get It, has been taken over by Bacon Nation, the CNE food stand that’s been simultaneously repulsing and fascinating us since 2012 with its Nutella BLTs and pork-encased wieners. The building is owned by developers, who have been threatening to turn it into condos for over two years. Apparently, there’s been some type of snag in that plan.

“We’re going to be here for at least a year,” said co-owner Andrew Motta, who founded Bacon Nation with his brother, Dan. At their new sit-down spot, the brothers plan to serve a more refined lineup of gourmet sandwiches and sides, including some options made with—gasp—turkey bacon. (“We’re trying to get away from the CNE thing,” said Andrew.) The menu is still being fine-tuned, but fans of the fairground kiosk will recognize some holdovers, including an update on the intriguingly pork-heavy Canuck Burger. The Mottas are aiming to open the restaurant by mid-June. Until then, locals can get their pig fix at the Bacon Nation food truck, which will be parked nearby.