It’s that time of year again Toronto - it’s Winterlicious! I absolutely love this event because it allows Torontonians to indulge in a three course meal at some of the city’s fanciest, upscale and most expensive restaurants while paying a fraction of the price. Last year for Summerlicious 2013 my summer fling took me to this beautiful Italian restaurant in Yorkville (Fortuna Ristorante) and as soon as we walked in we both felt under dressed with our Blue Jays baseball caps and shorts, while everyone else was prim and proper.
The event was started over a decade ago to help promote restaurants during their slower months and to help Toronto`s economy after the SARS crisis. Since then it has grown and become one of the city`s most anticipated events.
There are plenty of offerings for this year’s event with over 200 participating venues. I will not list them all for you. Instead I will list the restaurants I would like to try or have tried and post a link to the Winterlicious website for you to explore further.
Here are my picks:
Against the Grain Urban Tavern (25 Dockside Drive), Bent* (777 Dundas St. W.), Brownstone Bistro** (603 Yonge St.), Byzantium* (499 Church St.), Canoe (66 Wellington St. W. 54th Floor), Czehoski* (747 Queen St. W), Drake Hotel** (1150 Queen St. W.), Fortuna Ristorante** (12 Cumberland St.), La Bruschetta (1317 St. Clair Ave. W.), Mildred`s Temple Kitchen* (85 Hanna Ave.), Mill Street`s The Beer Hall* (21 Tank House Lane), Momofuku Daisho*, (190 University Ave.), Sassafraz** (100 Cumberland St.), Southern Accent Restaurant (595 Markham St.), STOCK® Restaurant Bar and Lounge (Trump International Hotel and Tower at 325 Bay St. on the 31st Floor).
Now I know what you’re all thinking. It’s probably “Those places sound so cool! But I haven’t made a reservation yet! What do I do?” No need to worry if you don’t have a reservation for this event, that begins tomorrow and runs until February 13, because there is still the possibility you can reserve a spot – call now though! You may not be able to get a reservation for some of the city’s most talk-about establishments (unless there is a cancellation), but why not try something that hasn’t been heavily promoted by BlogTO or GridTO.
I would highly recommend this as a date option, however, if you are a loyal Dating on a Budget follower I can tell you right now that you will not be able to have a meal for two for under $20. On that note some restaurants are offering Prix Fixe meals starting at $15 per person, meaning in some cases you could go over that $20 by only 10 bucks – I leave it up to you to determine whether you`d liked to splurge.
Anyways remember to use the official Winterlicious hastag #LiciousTO when attending these restaurants! Have fun and remember to tell me what you’ve tried as I’m always looking for new things.
That is Why I Love Toronto
* = Highly recommended by friends and Why I Love Toronto Followers
** = Have experienced this restaurant before.
- Distillery District
- Drake Hotel
- Liberty Village
- Mill St. Brewery
- Southern Accent Restaurant
Breaking Why I Love Toronto News
Hudson’s Bay sells Queen and Yonge Flagship location and will open Canada’s first Saks on site.
In a move that caught everyone off guard, Hudson’s Bay Co. announced this morning that it has sold its Queen Street store and Simpson’s Tower to Cadillac Fairview Corp. for $650-million, making the property part of the Toronto Eaton Centre. It was also announced that the iconic Hudson’s Bay location will share its property with Saks, which HBC acquired last year, when the luxury retail brand opens its flagship store in 2015. The Saks will occupy 150,000 square feet of the Queen Street location leaving 600,000 square feet for Hudson’s Bay.
In a December issue of Report on Business Magazine, which I actually read surprisingly, it was stated that HBC intended to open its first Saks location at the current Hudson’s Bay on Yonge and Bloor. The move made sense considering Yorkville is the 5th Avenue of Toronto and its biggest competition Holt Renfrew was just down the street. However, the CEO of Cadillac Fairview Corp. spoke to the Chief Executive Officer of HBC and convinced him to move operation into the downtown core. With Cadillac Fairview’s announcement of Nordstrom occupying the former Sears, it’s clear that Cadillac Fairview is ready to turn Toronto Eaton Centre into an upscale shopping centre just like Sherway Gardens. No doubt this will bring an upscale image to the city of Toronto, as Toronto Eaton Centre is a must-see tourist attraction and Yonge and Dundas is the busiest intersection in all of Canada.
To top it all off, the current Sears store at Sherway Gardens, which is slated to close in the coming months, will be refurbished into a Saks as well. Both locations will feature upscale food courts which is unheard of in the U.S.
What do you think of all this fashion news my followers? Are you excited to see Saks on Queen? Or are you as confused as I an as to how HBC will present two department stores in one location.
Don’t forget to read about the history of the Queen Street location which I have linked below.
Related Why I Love Toronto Post
Happy Valentine’s Day Toronto!
Below are the links to my 14 Most Romantic Places in Toronto segment I did last year, plus I threw in an extra romantic post in there as well! Also what did you think of my Dating on a Budget Guide? Message me or tweet me @whyilovetoronto.
- The Steps of the former Merchant Bank in Brookfield Place
- Snakes and Lattes
- Casa Loma
- Kingsway Theatre
- Canoe at Canoe Landing Park
- Old Mill Station
- Crooked Cue
- The Scrambler at Centreville
- Movies at Riverdale Park
- Skating at Devonian Square
- York University Observatory
- Dock’s Drive In Theatre
- The Rock in Yorkville
- Love Lock Bridge
Why I Love Christmas in Toronto
Holt Renfrew Holiday Window
You now its Christmas time in the city when Holt Renfrew reveals their holiday window. In the weeks leading up to the unveiling of the window the luxury store papers up its massive Bloor Street store front to prepare their winter wonderland display.
The Holt Renfrew window in my opinion is the official start of the Christmas season for the Yorkville neighbourhood. This year the theme is Let It Snow and features a snowman, a polar bear, women fishing in couture, mannequins in a snowball fight, mannequins with thermoses that emit steam, a group of trendy men catching snowflakes in their nets and the highlight for me was this elegant mannequin in a long red maxi dress on top of a horse. I could go on and on about how the wardrobe was layered and even how the make up was executed, but I’ll let the pictures above speak for themselves.
So what will next years theme be? Well the creative team is already thinking about that because they need to have the window finalized by spring so they can order and have fixtures, decorations and everything else made and shipped to them in time for next year.
Under related posts I encourage you to visit last years post to see the 2011 and 2010 windows.
That is Why I Love Christmas In Toronto
- Holt Renfrew
- Taken by me
Why I Loved/ Still Love Toronto
Louis Vuitton in Yorkville
Way back in the early days of Why I Love Toronto I expressed my love for the Louis Vuitton that was located in the heart (near Bay and Bloor) of the upscale neighbourhood that is Yorkville. In that post I criticized the company’s decision to move that location to what I referred to as the start of Yorkville on Avenue Rd. and Bloor St. West. My concern was that the new Louis Vuitton would be a boring modernized boutique. Well after visiting the store a few weeks ago I found that I was both right and wrong.
The building is very modern and upscale and has a similar façade to that of the Gucci and Burberry next door. The façade really has no character to it. However, when you walk inside the boutique (or maison as some may call it) the amount of space this location has allows for these wonderful floor to ceiling displays and a more open concept that the past location could not accommodate. In that sense I do like that aspect of the new location.
However, the former location, which now sits abandoned, makes me hate the new boutique. The former Louis Vuitoon was located in an old looking house, which was probably a Victorian home that was once used as living quarters when Yorkville was a residential area. Even though the interior was modified the silhouette of the house was left. Whether I am right and this was a former residence is unknown for there is no history on the building nor is it a heritage property. However, if you know the history of Yorkville then you know there is a very good possibility that this was a home. I personally think the fact that it had the silhouette of a house is what made the store stand out and why people always took pictures of the store or just simply stared at it. Unlike the plain, modern and shiny boutiques that line the street the former Louis Vuitton had character.
Now that the store has moved, what will be the fate of this building? Currently it sits as an empty property in Yorkville, and the window is covered with a simple sign encouraging costumers to visit the new boutique to the west. I honestly hope and new designer will move into the building (Ann Taylor, Kate Spade New York maybe?) and I hope that it doesn’t become the latest condo project.
That is Why I Love Toronto.
- 1-3 by Me
- 4 from Google Maps
Why I Love Toronto
So TIFF officially starts tomorrow Toronto! That means the paparazzi will come up to Hollywood North and us Torontonians will become paparazzi as well. It is the time when Toronto is filled with some of biggest names in Hollywood as well as around the world. It is a time when red carpets are rolled out all over the city treating us ordinary folk like celebrities. However, this post will not be a regurgitation of my TIFF post last year (click here for that post), but instead I have decided to compile a list for all you star hunters out there of the places celebrities tend to hit up during TIFF.
One place to see celebrities is Yorkville. However, this may not be the year for Yorkville since many big TIFF events and celebrities have been moving to King Street, plus the Four Seasons on Avenue Road has closed down. However there is no denying the shopping in the area and the many famous hotels still attract the big names – so even though it may not be the hottest hottest spot it was years ago there are still many places to see celebrities in Yorkville.
Sassafraz is basically the hottest spot for celebrities to eat in Toronto and has seen the likes of Matt Damon and the Cyrus family. If it is warm outside the windows may be open and you may be able to get a peek of a celebrity.
Holt Renfrew is a big shopping place for many celebrities carrying a ton of designer brands that may not have their own Boutique in Yorkville. When you think of Holt you automatically think of designer brands, and the rich therefore it is the perfect place to see celebrities and it always has a lineup of limos and escalades in the store front ready to whisk away a celebrity. One note here though is that they may use their bags to block your cameras.
The Hazelton Hotel last year was a mad house! There were a ton of people spilling out onto the street waiting to see Bono/ U2 and Madonna. It is a cute hotel that gives a very homey feeling and I feel as though if you walk down Hazelton you’ll have to walk on the street.
Starbucks on Bloor and on Hazelton are always populated by celebrities, because what celebrity knows the Tim Horton’s brand (other than our homegrown talent). You never know that guy who may look like Johnny Depp in line may in fact be Johnny Depp trying to be a normal person.
Thompson Hotel is another popular hotel for celebrities to stay at, but it is more known for the hottest parities that it hosts during TIFF. I mean the Rooftop Bar has the most amazing view of the city and the 1812 lounge is so dark and sexy – so if you can somehow get into a Thompson Hotel party, I think a sexy venue deserves some sexy stars.
King Edward Hotel has seen Hollywood Royalty come through its doors bringing in massive crowds. The King Edward is usually famous for bringing stars who are very controversial (Liz Taylor and John Lennon). So if you are trying to think what star could stay here I’d say think controversial and let’s be honest the most controversial celebrity coming this year will be Kirsten Stewart – could she be staying here?
Fairmont Royal York is far from Yorkville, but close to the major TIFF action. Plus it is a hotel that boasts to hosting the Royal Family and if it is fit enough for the Queen then it is fit for the celebrities coming to TIFF.
TIFF Bell Lightbox is the TIFF headquarters so every celebrity who will be showcasing a film will most likely be here for press conferences. So if anything do what I did last year stand outside the doors and wait for a celebrity to come out.
Ryerson has a theatre where many big premieres happen. Last year I saw Mr. Ryan Gosling and Mr. Bryan Cranston for the premiere of Drive.
Roy Thompson Hall is where all the big premiers happen. I went years ago to see Claire Danes film Stage Beauty. Last year I saw Brad, Angelina, Jonah and Anna Farris here, but so many celebrities pass by the Roy Thompson red carpet.
Sweaty Betty’s on the Ossington Strip is a big celebrity hot spot. I thought my friend Ariel was Cray Cray, but she wasn’t! Though it is more a place Canadian stars go to, Drew Barrymore left her movie premiere to bar tend here – huh.
The InterContinental Yorkville is technically in the Annex regardless is still a place to a great place to see people.
Ritz Carlton another hotel you can stand outside of.
Pearson International Airport is a great place to see celebrities when they first get here. I mean they have to get here somehow and plane is the fastest!
If you get a picture with or of a celebrity during TIFF I am looking to compile a bunch of fan pictures for an end of TIFF post so message me the picture here or tweet them to me at @whyilovetoronto
That’s What’s Up Tdot!
Why I Love Toronto Reason #354
Church of the Redeemer
(Sing in the tune of Going to the chapel of love by The Dixie Cups) I went to chapel to see Nick and Georgette get married. (stop singing here).
Yesterday my dear friend Georgette got married <3, and I thought it would be fitting to feature a church for this post. Now my friends did not get married at this church, but I thought since a wedding happens at church and this being my last church post that it would be the perfect time to do it. Sitting on the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road this church is pretty much a staple for me direction wise. I mean for me it marks the start of Yorkville to the east and the start of the eastern portion of U of T if you go south. The church was built by Smith and Gemmel and was opened in 1879. The architecture is said to be in a gothic style with a rough stone exterior and a polychrome yellow brick interior. Other things to note about the church is the alter which has a beautiful domed ceiling with a number of designs on them, as well as the stained glassed windows that surround the alter. I also love the wooden beams that lead you to the alter for I feel as though they are what draw your attention and draw you to come closer – well that’s what it did for me during Doors Open.
I was looking at an old picture from the Toronto Library archive and in one of them there is this stunning chandelier that sat in the middle of the room – I wonder what ever happened it? Also I will post a picture from the Toronto Library of the church back in the day. When looking at the black and white photo, you have to acknowledge the fact that there was no Bloor Street! There wasn’t even that massive Four Season Complex behind it! Look at the trees, the land and the fences – it is not what Bloor Street looks like today. If that church could talk it would be giving us a crazy history lesson! I mean just read the brief history lesson I gave during my Yorkville post and you will see the transformation that area has seen.
The church is one of few churches in the city of Toronto that welcomes a wide array of worshippers, including those of the LGBT community. One report says that around 40% of the churches 350+ worshipers are part of the LGBT community. Ps. it was also on the show Nikita, Devon Sawa was standing in front of the church during one episode.
I think out of all of the Churches I have done this is the one that has been through, survived and witnessed the greatest transformation of an area and of the city. It is a beautiful church that just sits on the corner of one of the city’s busiest intersections.
That is Why I Love Toronto.