July 5th, 2013
The best kid friendly cafes, restaurants and hotels, are the ones you'd still want to hang out at even when your sprogs aren't with you.
I've spent enough time with my kids at Red Fish Blue Fish lately to know that they love it. With a craft table complete with googly eyes and pompoms, plus baked goods and books galore, what's not love?
But I'm equally happy to read a magazine and sip tea solo.
"We're a kids cafe that welcomes adults," says owner Nathalie Robertson
This little stretch of Annex needed a lunch spot, and it got one that serves refreshing cucumber soup, grilled panino and savoury scones. Salads from Splendido's chef are in the works too.
I've yet to see a flying panini or tantruming toddler here. —Athena Tsavliris
73 Harbord St., Toronto, 416-960-2233, www.facebook.com/RedfishBluefishCreativeCafe
June 21st, 2013
When was the last time someone challenged you to a game of battleship?
Get your game on at Castle, Toronto's newest board game cafe. Floor to ceiling shelves are stacked with every game imaginable from retro classics like Yahtzee and Scrabble to current favourite Forbidden Desert.
Fluffy buttermilk waffles make tasty belly-fillers and a selection of coffees will keep chess players alert.
It's not a bad idea for a first date... you learn a lot about a person by the way they play a game. —Athena Tsavliris
Castle, 54 Spadina Ave., Toronto, 647-748-1955, http://castleboardgames.com
May 9th, 2012
“Fresh, easy and doable” is how Ron Duffy describes the food at his petite Circus Coffee House.
While many stop-in for blended fresh fruit smoothies (from $3), Ron’s delicious main act is a selection of simple brown rice bowls made from scratch. These little pots of heaven are topped with Baba Ganoush, grilled tofu, grated beets and shots of cayenne pepper for “a blast of heat, good for circulation.”
Lulled by the whir of the food processor and a well-curated selection of second hand books we stayed on sipping espresso brewed on a 1970s Gaggia.
It isn’t easy leaving the big top. —Marianne Wisenthal
Circus Coffee House, 7 Woodmount Ave., Toronto, 416-423-3603.
April 29th, 2011
Seven grams—what is that, the weight of an Americano's soul? Actually, yes. Kinda. It's the amount of espresso used to make one drink at this welcome new Av & Dav coffee bar.
Heretofore, options in or near Yorkville have been limited, to put it mildly. But now! Thank heaven for Seven Grams. The independent cafe is sleek, airy and two-storied: espresso bar above, plentiful seating (for now) and local art (for that Queen-Westerly flavour) below.
Servers are attentive and Wi-Fi is free. Order a few items—like crumbly baked goods by Circles & Squares, organic juice and fruit—and they'll hand it all over on, literally, a silver platter.
Oh, right: the coffee. You can get it six ways, from classic French press to the connoisseur's favourite, cold-drip (brewed and steeped for half a day, so it's never burnt or acidic). Every espresso drink is made with two shots. Iced lattes or teas are served in handled glass jars to keep cold and look cute.
Soon, too, Seven Grams will open its patio. As if you needed another reason to linger. —SNP
131 Avenue Rd., Toronto, http://sevengrams.ca
February 18th, 2011
Café Pamenar could just be the next watercooler of Kensington, where locals stop in to drink coffee and kvetch.
The beans are courtesy of B.C.’s Discovery Coffee Roasters and with your latte come freshly-baked pastries from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and Circles and Squares.
Warmer days will take everyone outside to a patio, but for now the stylish space, with its large communal back table, cement coffee bar and minimalist lighting, will keep us warm—and in the loop with all the neighbourhood gossip.
Café Pamenar, 307 Augusta Ave. (at Oxford St.), Toronto, 647-352-3627, http://cafepamenar.ca
January 10th, 2011
Down a little mews in London’s idyllic Primrose Hill is Triyoga, the warehouse-turned-yoga studio where Gwynnie and Madge escape the chaos of celebrity life.
Here in Toronto, we have our own sanctuary. Once an Annex staple, Octopus Garden Yoga’s new digs (at College and Dovercourt) boasts two ultra-spacious studios, Urban Herbivore’s new outpost café, plus treatments and services such as massage therapy.
Most of all we appreciate the calm, focused instructors, immaculate equipment and the wide variety of classes to suit beginners and experts.
Famous or not, every girl deserves a little star treatment.
First time visitors can drop-in for free (regularly $18) or become a member for $80 per month. Octopus Garden Yoga, 967 College St., Toronto, 416-515-8885, www.octopusgardenyoga.com