Between club king Charles Khabouth opening his swish steak house NAO, Rob Gentile launching his seafood-focused Buca, and The Chase group bringing their modern Japanese restaurant Kasa Moto to the former Remy’s location, Yorkville is in the midst of a culinary makeover. Now Paramount Fine Foods, the casual Lebanese eatery and bakery with 15 restaurants throughout southern Ontario (two of them at Pearson Airport), is set to open in the old Perry’s clothiers on Bay Street next door to Pusateri’s. Yorkville residents can nibble on thoroughly affordable manakeesh, halal chicken shawarma or freshly baked baklava—a welcome addition to pricy pastas and rib-eyes.
Name: Kasa Moto
Contact: 115 Yorkville Ave., 647-348-7000, kasamoto.ca, @kasa_moto
Previously: Montage (but prior to that, Remys)
Owners: Chase Hospitality Group, Westdale Properties, Adam Arviv and Mark Silver
Chefs: Daisuke Izutsu (Don Don Izakaya, Kaiseki-Sakura), Michael Parubocki (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Frank’s Kitchen) and Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga (Yuzu, Kingyo, Kaji)
The Food: Contemporary Japanese dishes including a mix of izakaya and robata-grilled hot and cold small plates with some larger options, too (like a whole roasted bass). There’s also a sushi bar that specializes in both traditional and contemporary takes on sushi and sashimi, all made with traceable and responsibly harvested seafood. There’s a menu of small plates for the patio, and, on the weekends, brunch will include items like bincho-grilled wagyu steak and eggs, and breakfast bentos of fried rice and salmon.
The Drinks: Cocktails infused with Japanese flavours like yuzu, shiso or sansho salt; Japanese beers on tap and in bottles; a selection of wine and spirits—and sake, of course.
The Space: II by IV Design was responsible for transforming the 12,000-square-foot space into multiple rooms accented with wood ceilings, indoor topiary and hand-painted murals. The two-story restaurant and lounge can seat 410 people spread out across a split-level main-floor dining room, a sizeable rooftop patio, a street-side terrace and Bar Moto on the upper level, which is available for private functions.
Style setters, rejoice: H&M’s upscale sister store COS is officially landing in Yorkville. The eight-year-old label, well-known in fashion circles for its Scandinavian minimalism and designer basics, is taking over the former Tiffany’s building on Bloor. (Burnac Corporation has kept the sought-after space empty since the jeweller moved out in 2013, waiting for the right tenant.) The store will open this fall, stocking the brand’s signature collections—typically a mixture of work-appropriate outfits and edgier, structured pieces—for men, women and kids. The current lineup consists of clean, simple items that play up interesting details: a short-sleeved denim coat, a hypnotic silk blazer or this pleated skirt, for instance. It’s got great stuff for guys, too, including sleek accessories like this leather satchel and bold cap. Prices are higher that what you’ll find at H&M, but you get what you pay for. Those not yet familiar with the brand can take a moment to browse its chic website or peep the store’s artsy magazine.
The glitzy reno of this Victorian, for most of the last 20 years home to the quaint fusion spot Boba, marks the rapid transformation of Yorkville from rich and dowdy to rich and aggressively chic. Marble walls, plush black leather banquettes and a monumental wedding cake of a chandelier reinforce the impression of a deco-era nightclub—the only thing missing is Nat King Cole crooning from a stage instead of from the overhead speakers.
Nominally a Japanese-style steak house, it’s the latest in a series of ambitious Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji projects, with executive chef Stuart Cameron (who also oversees Byblos, Weslodge and Patria) responsible for a big-spender menu of oyster platters, panko and Dungeness crab croquettes dusted with a sesame-seaweed seasoning, and an ingeniously multi-textured ahi tuna tartare (more of a salad) tossed with chilies, avocado, puffed wild rice and a nostril-searing grating of fresh B.C. wasabi. But it’s all about the beef: the aging locker holds a king’s ransom of prime Canadian and American cattle; Wagyu raised in your pick of Idaho, Iowa or Australia; and the most outrageous of them all, Japanese Kobe, which starts at $105 for a mere five ounces and climbs precipitously to $460 for a 24-ounce rib-eye. The more modest Australian Wagyu rump steak is charred handsomely on the grill, perfectly rare within, and so heavily marbled it’s more fat than meat—it slices like butter under the blade of the restaurant’s custom-made high-carbon steak knives. The steaks are so flavourful, there’s no need for the house steak sauce, prepared with momentous ceremony tableside on a vintage industrial cart. A serious wine list includes a dozen sakes and a handful of extremely rare French vintages offered by the glass.
Lululemon relative Kit and Ace is opening its second Toronto location on Bloor West, taking over the sizeable space previously home to United Colours of Benetton. The casual luxury brand (and purveyor of $90 T-shirts) opened its first Toronto store last year on Queen West, and has been expanding ever since. According to Retail Insider, the Vancouver-based company has plans to open no fewer than 15 stores in Canada in the coming months (on top of plenty more around the world). With its supper clubs, concerts and other events held regularly in-store, Kit and Ace is trying to reel in the young creative class. But the new flagship might be in a neighbourhood better suited to the brand—no matter how comfortable, soft or machine-washable its patented qemir fabric (a.k.a. “technical cashmere”) is, well-off Yorkvillers are probably more likely to drop hundreds of dollars on basic tees and tanks than Queen West’s toque-wearing crowd.
Introducing: The One Eighty, serving chicken and waffles with cocktails 51 storeys above Bay and Bloor
Name: The One Eighty
Contact: 55 Bloor St. W., 51st floor, 416-967-0000, the51stfloor.com, @the51stfloor
Previously: Panorama Lounge
Owner: Sebastien Centner, President and CEO of Eatertainment
Chefs: Christopher Matthews and Zach Jacobs
The Food: Approachable and fun (“but not whimsical,” says owner Sebasten Centner) plates, made using food from local suppliers: halibut tacos, flatbread pizza, buttermilk chicken and waffles and a ramen noodle slaw all find a place on the menu. “We wanted dishes that people could look at and recognize, but that may have a twist,” explains Centner. As a play on dim sum, servers come around with food carts in between courses so diners can make impulse two-bite purchases (quail eggs on homemade chips, for example). “The point is not to overstuff diners,” says Centner, but to create some continuity to the meal and provide “bursts of flavour during the lulls.”
The Drinks: A short list of easy-drinking beer, on tap and in bottles; a wine menu featuring both VQA and international selections, some available by the glass; and the bar’s “Shaken and Stirred” collection, six signature cocktails that are made-to-order in twee glass bottles and then poured table-side.
The Place: Taking up the top floor of the Manulife Centre, the sleek, 2,500-square-foot space with 21-foot barrel-vaulted ceilings can seat 90 (or let 250 cocktail-drinking folks mingle comfortably). Oh, and there’s the view: 51 storeys above Bay and Bloor, The One Eighty gives guests a chance to see the city from really (really, really) high up, and not just from behind windows—both north and south patios will open at the end of April.
The Property: A renovated condo in the Renaissance Plaza building. At 1,755 square feet, it’s large enough to accommodate both downsizing empty nesters and couples looking to upgrade from a single bedroom.
As if opening four restaurants (The Chase, The Chase Fish & Oyster, Colette Grand Café and Little Fin) in less than two years wasn’t enough, Chase Hospitality Group is adding one more: Kasa Moto, which will serve a menu of contemporary Japanese cuisine overseen by chefs Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga (Kingyo) and Daisuke Izutsu (Don Don Izakaya). The newest addition to the growing Chase family is slated to open this spring at the corner of Yorkville and Hazelton, where Remy’s used to be. Sticking with the “business downstairs, party up top” trend, the second floor will be home to Bar Moto, which will act as both an event space and private dining area, and there’s also a rooftop terrace—home to something called Montage for a very brief time—that’s sure to be a hit come summer.
Less than two months after a Christmas Day fire destroyed Sotto Sotto, a longtime favourite dining spot of Yorkville’s elite, the landmark Italian restaurant is reopening just a couple doors north of its previous address. (Or, as loyal customer Drake might say, it started two doors over, now it’s here.) The new address is 120 Avenue Road, a space previously occupied by Dyne. Spokesperson Laura Fracassi says a grand opening is forthcoming, but the restaurant will have a soft reopening on February 19, which is today. “It’s still the same Sotto Sotto, but it’s bigger,” says Fracassi. Regulars can expect the same menu and even familiar servers—the restaurant has re-hired staff that had to be let go after the blaze. Until renovations are complete, Sotto Sotto will only be open for dinner service, Thursdays to Sundays. As of an hour ago, reservations were still available for tonight, but they are, unsurprisingly, flooding in.
To his wife and girlfriends and business partners, Albert Allan Rosenberg was a billionaire, a Swiss baron, a merchant banker with holdings around the world, the most charming guy in the room. The incredible story of how he fooled them all
Looking back, it does seem unlikely that a Swiss billionaire baron would be seeking love on the Internet, but when Antoinette met Albert Rosenberg on eHarmony in February 2012, she just figured she got lucky. Along with the European title, he was also charming, successful, dashing and, yes, mega-rich, hard at work on his latest venture, a Canadian merchant bank called Marwa Holdings. He was educated at Harvard, fluent in French and German, a world traveller. Rosenberg had a thriving medical software business back in Zurich and a sizable trust in the multimillions. He was heir to the Ovaltine fortune, a direct descendent of Albert Wander, who invented the popular Swiss malt drink back in 1904. This was how he supported his lavish lifestyle. Or so he said.
The Place: A 1,248 square foot penthouse in one of Yorkville’s smaller condo buildings. There are two bedrooms, a balcony, two parking spaces and an open-concept living and dining area.
Anyone who’s been grieving the loss of Yorkville’s longstanding rooftop bar can breathe a sigh of relief: the patio formerly known as Remys Yorkville is finally reopening, albeit in modified form. Now called Montage, the building at 115 Yorkville Avenue has been turned into a fancy restaurant and lounge with designated members-only areas, access to which can apparently be purchased for a hefty annual fee. The restaurant won’t be open until later this year, but the revamped rooftop area—complete with private cabanas and bottle service—officially “premiered” last weekend, just in time for the end of TIFF and the beginning of autumn. As for the overall vibe, the Montage website offers this: “Fly to the moon and play among the stars up on this vast rooftop space limited only by our Yorkville neighbours and your imagination. Sit, stir or be stirred; the choice is yours.” So, there you have it. Judging by some other aspects of the website, guests can also expect lots of quasi-Roman symbology and sexy ladies smoking cigars.
Montage, 115 Yorkville Ave., 416-968-9429, montageyorkville.com