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Toronto has no shortage of dining options across its neighbourhoods, from Queen Street West to downtown. I was able to enjoy a wide range of eateries during a recent one-week stay in the Big Smoke.

Terroni

Toronto’s Adelaide Street East is home to Terroni (at #57), part of a small chain of restaurants in the city. They’ve done a stunning job in keeping many of the 1853 Adelaide Street Court House’s Classic Revival original details, giving the courthouse clock a prominent position close to the entryway.

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Buzzing even on a Wednesday evening, Terroni offers an array of Italian specialities, from Ravioli di Zucca and pizzas to grilled calamari and baked Oyster mushrooms adorned with Parmigiano, breadcrumbs, Extra Virgin olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, Arugula and garlic.

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[Caprese di Bufala]

Try their lemon and pistachio house-made gelato for a sweet finish.

SAP Restaurant Toronto

SAP has a prominent location at 401 Bay Street, next to The Bay department store in busy downtown Toronto. Don’t miss their delightful menu of Canadian comfort food, from bannock to poutine, courtesy of Executive Chef Faiz Shaikh, who was inspired to become a chef through his grandmother’s baking and catering business.

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Marben offers a small curated menu, however Executive Chef Chris Locke (who joined Marben in 2017), has turned this 15-year-old restaurant into a thriving scene for food lovers.

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During the pandemic, Marben pivoted to a small grocery and take-out service, and locals continue to enjoy both options. In fact, the restaurant will soon launch a market space nearby.

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[Marben: New Brunswick oysters, fried Brussels sprouts with puffed wild rice and fresh herbs]

Everything from their miso butter and grainy IPA mustard to crusty sourdough bread is prepared in-house. Staff are paid above minimum wage here; since 2020, tipping has been included in the bill. These measures allow employees a happy existence, especially after lockdown and reduced working hours hit hard over the past two years.

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Cute little Bar Reyna is located in a sweet white character house tucked on unassuming Cumberland Street (158), yet once through the doors, you’ll find an inviting place to enjoy Mediterranean fare, including meze, tapas, table shares and a few specialities.

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[Salad, grilled prawns served on Reyna’s back patio]

Be sure to reserve a spot on the festive, heated back patio.

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Back in Queen Street West, The Good Son has an authentic pub feel with framed photos gracing its walls. The front of the restaurant has a butcher shop feel with a black-and-white tiled floor, white paneled walls and antiques, where take-out service is available.

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Since 2014, The Good Son has been a place to enjoy fresh, local and seasonal organic produce, hormone- and free-range meats, wood-fired pizzas and pasta dishes. It’s an easy spot to hang out for awhile and enjoy an array of cocktails, beer, wine and spirits with an ever-rotating music playlist.

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We highly recommend their grape and crispy kale salad, with puffed quinoa in a grape and ginger dressing to start/share.

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Buzzing on a weekend, Liberty Village’s Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is housed in a bright, airy space to allow for conversation while digging into some of their indulgent menu items.

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Several dishes are named after characters in the 1945 film noir Mildred Pierce (also the name of their original Sudbury location), hence Mrs. Biederhof’s blueberry buttermilk pancakes, a staple dish that the restaurant has become famous for in Insta-land.

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I enjoyed Veda’s Choice (soft poached eggs served on a flaky croissant with smoked salmon, double-smoked bacon, or avocado, and a side of mixed greens) as well as a single serving of those amazing pancakes (almost a dessert, as it’s topped with blueberry compote, Lamarck County organic maple syrup and whipped cream).

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Of course, I can’t help but also imagine that the owners might be Sonic Youth fans as well (the 1990 album Goo includes a song of the same name).

Brunch is served from 9-3 on weekends. Make sure to seek out Mildred’s when you’re in town, at 85 Hanna Avenue.

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At 550 Wellington Street, 1 Kitchen Toronto recently opened as part of a massive renovation project together with adjacent 1 Hotel Toronto.

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The inviting, open space is adorned with live plants, a variety of playful suspended lighting fixtures and a casual vibe, offering diners locally-sourced items from purveyors including Athens Family Farm, Forno Cultura and Mighty Harvest. Much of the wood used throughout the dining space is recycled and repurposed by Toronto’s Just Be Woodsy.

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[Vegan Carrot Soup, House Smoked Tofu, 1 Kitchen Cheeseburger]

Executive Chef Derek Powers and Chef de Cuisine Roland Torok-Ducharm oversee the culinary team and their commitment to zero-waste dishes, with a focus on both seasonal and sustainable dining. Signature cocktails, spritzers and sangrias, plus wines, beer and a series of elixir-driven non-alcoholic drinks round out the menu.

Cirque du Soleil KURIOS

Cirque, Candles and Collections

Catch Cirque du Soleil’s lively KURIOS performance, under the Grand Chapiteau at Ontario Place, through July 17.

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KURIOS is named after the concept of pre-era museums in the Industrial Age, when aristocrats, members of the merchant class and early practitioners of science brought back objects (curios) from travels around the world — collectible historic relics, works of art, mysterious souvenirs or artefacts.

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In 1946, Sonja Ingrid Wettstein’s marriage to shoe industry man Thomas Bata (of the Bata Shoe Organization) blossomed into a beautiful life of love and shoes. The couple amassed a collection of footwear through years of travel, and in 1993, ground was broken for the Bata Shoe Museum, a space to admire, preserve and to conserve their vast finds.

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Over two decades later, the museum has amassed over 13,000 artifacts, including one of the largest collections of moccasins in the world.

It’s a must-visit for shoe lovers, and the inclusive Bata asks visitors questions within their displays, such as “What are you wearing and why?”, “If you wore any of these shoes, would you be criticized?” and “What shoes do you think the museum should collect?”.

Currently included in Bata’s three levels of exhibition space is All Dolled Up: Fashioning Cultural Expectations, exploring the world of dolls from the 18th century to today, taking into consideration how miniature marvels reflect the larger world, though November 2022.

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And if you’re seeking a unique experience not to be found anywhere else in North America, sign up for a customized candle-making course at Kandl Artistique, an extension of a family business that’s been around for 50 years.

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This boutique, a dream of Louise Abela, a former manager at Holt Renfrew’s Jo Malone London counter, not only sells some of the most luxurious candle brands, candle holders and snuffers, but also offers a 90-minute course complete with Parisian-sourced oils only available for this special workshop.

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You’ll be taken on a sensory journey as you sit at the back table and create a candle by selecting a top, middle and base note from a selection of 15 oils. There’s a total of over 125 different combinations that can be created during these fun classes.

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Once you’ve selected all scents, you’ll learn how to hand-pour your candle by mixing the oils with soy wax and setting the cotton wick in a coloured glass vessel of your choice.

You’ll even get to name your scented creation as the team design and print out its label and box the candle with a gold-coloured lid.

Kandl Artistique

The finished piece will burn for 60 hours and Kandyl will also take note of your chosen combination should you wish to return and create another candle with the same scent profile. Find them at 88 Avenue Road (classes offered Wednesday through Sunday at 2 and 5 pm as well as a newly-added 11 am weekend slot).

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