• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom

drake hotel

HOTEL INSIDER: Drake Devonshire

BY LINDA LUONG

ABOUT THE HOTEL
Dubbed “Drake by the Lake,” this Prince Edward County outpost of the ultra hip Toronto establishment is set alongside Lake Ontario in a former foundry building, circa the late 1800s. A two-year renovation led by design firm +tongtong under the creative direction of John Tong and the Drake Hotel’s CEO Jeff Stober transformed the space into a rustic yet artsy homage to Canadiana chic.

Incorporating some of the building’s original elements, such as the main entrance, a carved maple staircase and a fireplace in the parlour, whimsical accents and cheeky touches infuse the boutique hotel with a contemporary feel that also nod to the Drake’s signature aesthetic. Rooms are bold and striking, with walls painted in a palette of turquoise, sky blue and mauve, and vibrant wallpaper from Flavor Paper. Interspersed throughout the hotel is a mix of vintage items, which were sourced by the Drake’s in-house stylist (and one of the Drake’s co-founders) Carlo Colacci at flea markets and antique shows across North America, as well as custom designed and handcrafted pieces.

Art is prominently displayed at the hotel, with the Drake’s in-house curator Mia Nielsen having secured works by Canadian artist Rick Leong, who painted a custom mural in each room. A rotating roster of artists are also featured throughout the hotel, alongside permanent works by local artist Don Maynard, as well as Toronto artists Jennifer Murphy and Team Macho, and Brooklyn artist Faile.

Among the in-room amenities and luxuries are custom-crafted armoires, walk-in marble and glass showers, Malin + Goetz toiletries, MacAusland blankets, Bose bluetooth wireless speakers, and DVD and iPod listening libraries.

BY THE NUMBERS
Rooms
  11 rooms and 2 suites
Price  $229 and up
Conference Facilities  Though none of the spaces are specifically for conferences, the Drake Devonshire can accommodate groups of eight to 80 in its various rooms, including the Glass Box, Pavilion and Dining Room for meetings and team building sessions.

AMENITIES
The Drake Devonshire features multiple gathering spots throughout its space, each with a distinctive personality of its own.

The ultra comfortable Living Room was inspired by the concept of a farmhouse parlour. Mismatched furniture with an eclectic mix of prints and styles and a cozy fireplace makes this an ideal spot to read a book, write or for some quiet relaxation.

The aptly-named Glass Box has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a garden and Lane Creek. A riff of a family rec room, guests can play ping pong or board games, or watch a movie here. The space is alternatively used for weddings and corporate gatherings.

The Pavilion is a striking all-season space, though it particularly shines during good weather. Douglas fir beams and a dramatic floor-to-ceiling mural by Brooklyn artist Faile make for an eye-catching backdrop for live shows, special events, seasonal markets and holiday activities.

Enjoy the waterfront views from The Deck and bleachers, or grab a seat around the fire pit. The hotel’s food and drinks menu is also available here for alfresco dining.

FOOD
The cantilevered dining room with pristine views of Lake Ontario is a picturesque spot to tuck into chef Matt DeMille’s seasonally-changing menu of farm- and lake-to-table offerings that include Drake favourites as well as new items that pay homage to the region. Try the likes of chicken and waffles, smoked brisket hash or blueberry scones for breakfast or brunch, smoked chicken pot pie, crispy eggplant parmesan, slow roasted short ribs or the Devonshire burger for lunch or dinner.

A select wine list includes vintages from Prince Edward County wineries like Huff Estates, Hubbs Creek and Norman Hardie, as well as from further afoot, including Kendall-Jackson of California, Domaine la Montagnette of France and Cirelli of Italy. Try the house wine, Vintner’s Daughter, which was made in partnership with Wellington’s Rosehall Run Winery. Inventive cocktails include a bourbon con leche—cinnamon-infused bourbon mixed with condensed milk, coffee syrup and tiki bitters.

24 Wharf St., Wellington, Ontario, 613-399-3338 or 1-844-898-3338; drakedevonshire.ca

Weekend Roundup: November 30 to December 2

Gather for the opening of the Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market

Friday, November 30
The Distillery Historic District kicks off its annual celebration of the season with a performance by Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman at the opening night of the Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market. Bring the whole family and enjoy the sights and sounds, including festive treats and gifts, holiday decorations and a sit down with Santa Claus himself.

Pull out your ugliest Christmas sweater and head over to the Gladstones Hotel‘s 12 Beers of Christmas tasting party. Favoured local brews will be on tap, free prizes will put you in the giving spirit, and classic holiday tunes from the likes of Mariah Carey, Boyz 2 Men and the Jingle Cats (yes these Jingle Cats) will take your mind off the cold winter weather.

Slightly more sophisticated tunes are on offer with the Art of Time Ensemble’s Big Band Show at Harbourfront Centre‘s Enwave Theatre. The group is scheduled to treat audiences to a rendition of Tchaikovsky’s classic Nutcracker Suite—reimagined by jazz great Duke Ellington—plus its own unique takes on Igor Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No. 1.

Justin Bieber sings, audiences swoon (photo: Shelby Casanova)

Saturday, December 1
Coming off a performance at 100th Grey Cup last weekend, pop music’s current king, Justin Bieber, tonight returns to the Rogers Centre to woo his legion of fans. Sweetening the pot is an appearance by emerging star Carly Rae Jepsen, whose Call Me Maybe is arguably as mega-popular as the Biebs’ recent hits.

While the kids are revelling in their Bieber Fever, more mature music fans can treat themselves to an intimate evening with eight-time Juno winner Sarah McLachlan. The celebrated songstress performs tonight at hallowed Massey Hall.

Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire at Black Creek Pioneer Village’s Christmas celebrations. Activities include puppet shows, horse-drawn wagon rides, visits with Santa and more. Visitors can also ogle a miniature gingerbread replica of the Village and try their hands at a traditional taffy pull, a sticky Christmas tradition we’re happy to get on board with.

Sir Jerry makes magic even more fun than it already is!

Sunday, December 2
Watch your children’s eyes light up while the watch the mystical, magical performance of Sir Jerry today at the Drake Hotel. Touted as “the most innovative kids performer since Pee Wee Herman,” Sir Jerry offers a show full of song, dance and Monty Python-esque humour for the whole family to enjoy.

Raffi’s kid-friendly tunes have been entertaining and educating kids for more than 30 years. The beloved singer and songwriter today takes the stage at Roy Thomson Hall to strike a nostalgic chord with classics including “Baby Beluga” and more.

Much Music’s Big Jingle Holiday Concert this evening brings holiday cheer to teens and tweens at the Air Canada Centre. Performances by Simple Plan, Cody Simpson and The Wanted are sure to be a blast, while Carly Rae Jepsen’s third Toronto appearance in the past seven days makes this event an early Christmas present the kids won’t forget.

Weekend Roundup: February 24 to 26

Friday: See Eric Peterson in Seeds (photo by Maxime Cote)

Friday, February 24
Journalism makes for compelling theatre in Annabel Soutar’s Seeds. Outlining the David-and-Goliath legal battle between a Saskatchewan farmer and a biotech company over canola seeds, the play is a suspenseful and insightful nail-biter. Starring Eric Peterson, it’s on stage now at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

Be there as The Canadian Art Foundation’s Reel Artists Film Festival kicks into high gear with today’s free afternoon filmmakers panel, and a trio of fascinating documentaries. Portrait of Resistance takes you into the heart of activist art, Thomas Ruff peeks behind the scenes of the German artist’s studio, and Mark Lewis explores the intricacy behind the filmmaker’s deceptively simple works. All screenings take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox; there are even more on Saturday and Sunday!

Die-hard Grease fans rejoice! Now you can show your passion for Danny, Sandy and the gang by singing in the aisles during a Sing-Along Grease screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox . Wear your poodle skirts and skinny ties, learn to hand jive, and most definitely be there for this touring sensation’s one-and-only Toronto stop. (more…)

Hot Dates: Counting Down Toronto’s New Year’s Eve-nts

Break out the bubbly. It's New Year's Eve! (photo by Anders Andermark)

Have you noticed more and more places selling calendars these days? Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the imminent arrival of 2012. Hang on though, your 2011 calendar can be put to use one last time to jot down your plans for December 31st. Consider the following to fill up that final square:

  • It wouldn’t really feel like New Year’s in Toronto without CityTV’s New Year’s Eve Bash at Nathan Phillips Square. The 27th annual installment of the bash comes complete with fireworks plus performances by Backstreet Boy Howie D and pop songstress Anjulie. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, October 14 to 16

Friday: Cheer on the Argos as the seek to stop the Stampeders (photo by John Steadman)

Friday, October 14
Watch Chad Owens as he tries to become the first player in pro football history to rack up 3,000 combined yards in back-to-back seasons when the Toronto Argonauts take on the Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre.

Hear the sweet stringed sounds of Sinfonia Toronto at their first Masterpiece Concert of the new season at the Glenn Gould Studio. The virtuoso chamber orchestra welcomes pianist Davis Jalbert and trumpeter Guy Few for the show.

Tiptoe around corpses, feel the blood on the walls of a darkened maze, and outrun movie slashers come to life! Screemers, the indoor haunted scream park, takes over the Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, August 12 to 14

Friday: Cirque du Soleil offers high-flying spectacle (photo by Daniel Auclair)

Friday, August 12
Come one, come all to the Grand Chapiteau for the opening weekend of Cirque du Soleil’s Totem. Behold a cast of colorfully costumed characters whose feats of strength and grace are sure to amaze!

Experience an entire weekend of Pan-Asian culture as Harbourfront Centre’s Fortune Cooking Food Festival begins tonight. Among many activities, visitors can watch an Iron Chef competition, sample a variety of Asian cuisine and partake in cooking demonstrations.

Revel in the golden voice of theatre star Colm Wilkinson, who takes the Four Seasons Centre stage tonight and Saturday. Wilkinson’s performance includes a mix of famous Broadway hits from plays such as The Phantom of the Opera, as well as Irish ballads and contemporary pop favourites.

Saturday: Britney's back! (photo by chicagofabulousblog.com)

Saturday, August 13
Head to the Air Canada Centre to witness the return of Britney Spears, who brings her Femme Fatale tour to Toronto. The pop star is accompanied by an all-female line-up of special guests, including hip hop diva Nicki Minaj, Jessie and the Toy Boys, and Nevo.

Yonge-Dundas Square hosts this year’s India Day celebration. The festivities kick off with a parade down Yonge Street featuring floats that highlight India’s cultural diversity.

Support green farming initiatives at the first annual Conscious Food Festival at Fort York. The festival promotes local and natural foods and includes live music, vendors and seminars on food values.

Sunday: The Third Floor is just one of many SummerWorks plays showing today (photo by Wojtek Arciszewski)

Sunday, August 14
Don’t miss the final day of SummerWorks Theatre Festival, an event dedicated to showcasing new Canadian plays to theatr- going audiences. Even today there are numerous plays to see!

Join party-girl popster Ke$ha, whose Get $leazy tour rolls into the Molson Canadian Ampitheatre, with guests LMFAO and Spank Rock.

Brace yourself for Ron Sparks’ Celebrity Roast of Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) at the Drake Hotel. A night full of comedic insults and attacks by enlisted “roasters” is sure to ensue during this comedy hour.

Contact Curated: Queen & Dundas West

This year’s Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival is now in full swing, with exhibitions at more than 200 venues across the city. Make the most of your festival experience by concentrating your gallery-hopping within specific Toronto neighbourhoods, such as the western sections of Queen and Dundas streets.

At the Drake Hotel: Alex Prager's Irene from the Long Weekend (courtesy of Yancey Richardson Gallery)

Gladstone Hotel
Martie Giefert: Reconstruction (Gladstone) (May 1 to 31)
Isabel M. Martinez: The Weekend
(May 1 to June 3)

The Gladstone Hotel hosts two Contact featured exhibitions. Inspired by the boutique hotel’s third floor, Martie Giefert deconstructs and recreates a hyperrealistic experience of the space through film and digital photography. Similarly, Isabel M. Martinez splices leisure and landscape photos, bringing them together in a single frame to create a shifting scene for the viewer.

Drake Hotel
Robyn Cumming, Sara Cwynar, Daniel Gordon, Alex Prager, Geoffrey Pugen: I’m Not Here (April 22 to June 20)

This featured exhibition at the Drake Hotel emphasizes a contemporary take on portraiture. In many of the photos, the subject’s face is obscured, masked or abstracted in order to draw attention away from the customary focus of portraits and, instead, toward other elements of the image.

Le Gallery
Scott Ramsay: Carril Bici (April 27 to May 22)

In his open exhibition at Le Gallery, photographer Scott Ramsay turns his lens toward Cuba—specifically, that country’s ability to adapt to modernity without industrialism via the relationship between the Cuban people and the bicycle.

Stephen Bulger Gallery
Robert Bourdeau: The Station Point (May 5 to June 11)

Bourdeau’s large-format photographs document four decades worth of old landscapes, historical architecture and inactive industrial sites throughout Europe and North America. The photos offer a sense of how old structures can lose their identity over time yet still contain feelings, ambiguities and  even emotion.

At Angell Gallery: Alex Kisilevich's Stick Figure (courtesy of Angell Gallery)

Angell Gallery
Geoffrey Pugen: Long Divisions
(May 5 to June 11)
Alex Kisilevich: Kallima (May 5 to June 11)

Angell Gallery offers exhibitions by two of its contemporary artists. With Long Divisions, Pugen uses video and photography to manipulate ordinary objects into fantastical ones. Kisilevich explores the idea of camouflage and identity in the natural world and in social contexts for humans.

Gallery TPW
Eric Gottesman: Paths That Cross Cross Again (May 12 to June 11)

True to its history of presenting documentary and political photography, Gallery TPW displays Paths That Cross Cross Again by Eric Gottesman. The exhibit features images that reflect Gottesman’s work with Sudden Flowers, a children’s art collection in Addis Ababa, showcasing the complexity of human relations across social contexts.

Paul Petro Contemporary Art
Suzy Lake: Extended Breath (May 6 to June 4)
Su Rynard: Seed Bank (May 6 to June 4)

For more than 30 years, Suzy Lake has explored themes of female identity and beauty. In her Paul Petro exhibition, Lake uses long exposures to express both stillness and movement. Also in the gallery, Su Rynard’s work takes viewers inside the London Seed Bank to explore the irony of preserving nature within a man-made fortress.

At MOCCA: Viviane Sassen's Parasomnia (courtesy of Motive Gallery, Amsterdam)

Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
Olga Chagaoutdinova, Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Viviane Sassen, Dayanita Singh: Dynamic Landscape (April 30 to June 5)
Fred Herzog: Vancouver (April 30 to June 5)

The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art features two of Contact’s primary exhibitions. Dynamic Landscape, a group show, highlights the interplay between humans and nature from Africa to Canada’s frozen north. Fred Herzog: Vancouver tells the story of the German immigrant’s documentation and transformation of post-war Vancouver.

Elaine Fleck Gallery
S. Vote: The Aesthetic Choices of S. Vote (May 1 to 28)

S. Vote juxtaposes the media of traditional pen-and-ink geisha drawings and contemporary digital photography to create a single unified expression of beauty, elegance, contrast and fragility.


View Contact Photography Festival 2011: Queen & Dundas West in a larger map

Weekend Roundup, February 25th to 27th

Friday: Ladysmith Black Mombazo enlivens Roy Thomson Hall

Friday, February 25
Gather at Roy Thomson Hall tonight to have your spirits lifted by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The South African a capella group—known for its stirring harmonies—is slated to perform songs from its latest album, Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu.

Join Anne Sofie Von Otter and Brad Mehldau at Koerner Hall as they perform selections from their recent effort, Love Songs. The immensely talented Swedish mezzo-soprano and American jazz pianist are adept at playing everything from Brahms to the Beatles.

This evening offers a final opportunity to hear the melodies of The Magic Flute, as performed by the Canadian Opera Company at the Four Seasons Centre. Toronto-based soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is among the talented cast of this beautiful Mozart opera.

Saturday: Bloor-Yorkville's IceFest offers all manner of frosty sculptures

Saturday, February 26
Bloor-Yorkville’s annual Icefest runs all weekend long at the Village of Yorkville Park. Today, visitors can view a “Circus Extravaganza” with ice sculptures of elephants, lion tamers, fortune tellers, and more. The big top atmosphere also offers magic tricks, acrobatics and yummy cotton candy, too.

Follow a young girl’s battle for liberty as Brothel #9 opens tonight at Factory Theatre. Telling the story of a girl who struggles for freedom after being sold to a brothel in Calcutta, the play is a true testament to the endurance of the human spirit.

Drama lovers will also find interest in the final day of Nightwood Theatre’s Groundswell Festival, which presents new works by female playwrights. The Happy Woman closes the festival, and features a panel discussion following its performance.

Sunday: See Sacred Moon (detail pictured) and other works by El Anatsui at the Royal Ontario Museum

Sunday, February 27
Today offers the final opportunity to view the Royal Ontario Museum’s acclaimed exhibition, When I Last Wrote You About Africa, by El Anatsui. The Ghanaian artist transforms overlooked and discarded objects into monumental sculptures that reflect global, local, and his own personal history.

In celebration of the Juno Awards’ 40th anniversary, Lula Lounge hosts a performance by the Juno Jazz All-Stars tonight. Eight Juno-winning artists—including Guido Basso, Don Thompson and Dave Young—take the stage at this sure-to-be-smoking show.

Looking for a fun way spend Oscar night? Walk the red carpet to the Drake Hotel’s own Oscar Party. The evening of entertainment features popcorn, drinks, a cinematic trivia contest with great door prizes, and, of course, a viewing of the Academy Awards.

Weekend Roundup, October 29 to 31

It’s Halloween! Grab your costume and make it a wicked weekend with some of these hair-raising events.

Have a Wicked weekend (photo by Joan Marcus)

Friday, October 29
Start your Halloween weekend with a bow to the past at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. See the classic film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari while award-winning composer Andrew Downing performs its original score. The tale of a mad carnival showman and his sleepwalking slave, this 1920s masterpiece is considered by many to be the first horror film. It will give you chills!

Toronto can’t get enough of the hit Broadway musical Wicked! Return to Oz to hear the story of Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West—long before Dorothy dropped in. Enjoying it’s third engagement at the Canon Theatre, grab your tickets before they sell out—again!

Head to Second City for an evening of hilarious comedy. The troupe’s latest show, Something Wicked Awesome This Way Comes, has garnered rave reviews thanks to its smart comedy sketches and songs. This performance delivers non-stop laughs!

Saturday, October 30
Crime and mystery fiction get their due at the International Festival of Authors, which celebrates the timeless genre at the IFOA Noir Round Table. Join authors and critics as they discuss the mystery novel!

Get your pulse racing at the Creepy Classics concert at Roy Thomson Hall. Pianist Todd Yaniw plays some of the most well-known “spooky” pieces, including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Bach’s Toccata in D Minor.

Head to the Drake Hotel for its Halloween party! Come dressed as your favourite music-video star and dance the night away to DJ duo Flosstradamus. The best costume wins $500. This just begs for an extravagant Lady Gaga outfit!

Sunday, October 31
Bring the kids to the Toronto Zoo this weekend for Boo at the Zoo. There are tons of kid-friendly attractions like the hay maze, the animal meet and greet and live performances all day long. Kids in costume get in free!

Get a terrifying tour of Casa Loma! Professional ghost trackers show videos and tell their stories about nights spent in the historic castle. Visitors are then left to explore the grounds to do some ghost tracking of their own!

For the biggest Halloween bash in the city, head to Church Street for their annual Halloween Block Party! Costumed revelers take over the Gay Village, with an expected turnout of 50,000 people. The streets are closed and clubs open their doors, from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. You’ve never been to a Halloween party like this!

Weekend Roundup, October 15 to 17

Scream, laugh, marvel and applaud! There are many performances to see this weekend!

Friday: Applaud for Aida (photo by Michael Cooper)

Friday, October 15
Be afraid, be very afraid; The Halloween tradition Screemers returns to Exhibition Place! With  terrifying attractions like the Haunted House and Maniac Maze—plus a licensed Vampire Lounge—even the bravest are sure to feel chills!

The Canadian Opera Company’s Aida continues to engage audiences at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. This new production of Verdi’s masterpiece tells the tale of forbidden love between an Egyptian king and an Ethiopian slave, as war and a jealous Egyptian princess tear the two apart. In the title role, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky gives a stunning performance.

Don’t miss Out of Context—For Pina—after garnering rave reviews in Europe, this innovative contemporary dance production makes its Toronto debut at Harbourfront Centre. Choreographer Alain Platel uses body language to communicate emotion; the result is raw and deeply moving.

Saturday: Be moved by Joseph Ziegler in Death of a Salesman (photo by Bruce Zinger)

Saturday, October 16
Head to the Drake Hotel for its annual Fall Market! With unique vintage items, handmade knitwear, fresh flowers, baked goods and free gifts, there’s definitely something for everyone.

The Planet in Focus International Environmental Film and Video Festival continues through the weekend, with a slate of films that strive to enlighten audiences about eco-issues and encourage discussion on the state of the environment. Catch such anticipated films as Land of Destiny in various theatres across the city.

Arthur Miller’s classic play Death of a Salesman opens tonight at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Talented Soulpepper Theatre founders Joseph Ziegler and Nancy Palk take to the stage as Willy and Linda Loman. Don’t miss this production of this masterpiece of America theatre!

Sunday: Find a brunch-time seat at the Roosevelt Room

Sunday, October 17
Gather at the Roosevelt Room this morning for “The Breakfast Club,” the swanky venue’s monthly brunch party! Featuring a filling prix fixe menu, beats by DJ Jacques Dumas and plenty of champagne to go around, it’s breakfast done decadently right.

Yuk it up at the Best of Canadian Comedy Awards, part of the Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival! See top Canadian comedians like Mary Walsh, Colin Mochrie, Members of the Royal Canadian Air Farce and more perform at the beautiful Winter Garden Theatre.

It’s your last chance to see the Textile Museum of Canada’s intriguing Person Place Thing exhibition. The works of three contemporary textile artists test the boundaries of their medium: Lia Cook examines faces in her large weavings, David R. Harper embroiders portraits on animal skins, and Stephen Schofield creates huge patchwork figures.

Blue-Ribbon Bites: Our 2010 Where to Dine Readers’ Choice Awards

Once again we asked you, Where readers, to tell us about your most memorable meals for our annual Where to Dine Awards. This year, thousands dined, dashed to their computers and dished about these exemplary restaurants in 20 categories.

AMBIENCE — La Maquette
Go for: This French institution’s refined atmosphere: grand fireplaces, a lovely solarium and a patio adjacent to the Toronto Sculpture Garden.
Stay for: The chef’s specialty grilled jumbo quail with blackberry sauce, wild cherries and apricot chutney.
Runners up: The Sultan’s Tent, Southern Accent.

BUSINESS LUNCH — Canoe
Go for: Everything on executive chef Anthony Walsh’s acclaimed menu, which highlights the best of Canada’s culinary bounty.
Stay for: The 54th-floor view that colleagues and clients are unlikely to forget.
Runners up: Jump, Bymark.

BAR/LOUNGE — Dakota Tavern
Go for: The underground watering hole’s eclectic urban-cowboy ambience, fun-loving crowd and nightly rip-snortin’ performances by local and touring bands.
Stay for: An excellent all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch—complete with live bluegrass music.
Runners up: Panorama, The Abbot Pub & Fare.

The Drake Hotel

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH — The Drake Hotel
G0 for: An enormous helping of fluffy buttermilk pancakes with stewed fruit and crème fraiche.
Stay for: The diverse juice and drinks list, with everything from mango iced tea to a piquant tequila and cilantro Caesar.
Runners up: Le Sélect Bistro, Cora Breakfast & Lunch.

CAFÉ — Dark Horse Espresso Bar
G0 for: A steaming mug of French-pressed coffee or a shot of espresso expertly prepared by gregarious baristas at two locations.
Stay for: The relaxed and inclusive vibe—though the communal tables can get crowded with laptop-toting javaheads.
Runners up: B Espresso Bar, Art Square Café.

CHINESE — Lai Wah Heen
Go for: An unparalleled dim sum experience. The variety of nibbles and their artful presentation are worth the price.
Stay for: The array of Cantonese entrees ranging from the expected—Peking duck—to the exotic, like sea cucumber and sliced abalone.
Runners up: Asian Legend, Pearl Harbourfront.

FAMILY DINNER — The Pickle Barrel
Go for: All-day breakfast favourites like Belgian waffles and French toast that are sure to please even the pickiest of young palates.
Stay for: Adult-oriented entrees including stir-fries, sandwiches, seafood and steaks—approximately 300 menu items in all.
Runners up: The Old Spaghetti Factory, Jack Astor’s.

Scaramouche

FINE DINING — Scaramouche
Go for: Such contemporary French-influenced fare as lobster and lamb enhanced by the freshest of seasonal accompaniments.
Stay for: The expansive hilltop view of downtown, and a fabulous slice of coconut cream pie to end the evening.
Runners up: Splendido, Harbour Sixty.

FRENCH — Auberge du Pommier
Go for: The classic combination of milk-poached veal tenderloin and crispy fried sweetbreads. C’est magnifique!
Stay for: A charcuterie platter that adds Canadian touches like spruce tips and apple mustard, plus a to-die-for crème brûlée.
Runners up: Batifole, Loire.

GREEK — Pan on the Danforth
Go for: Large, affordable servings of Hellenic faves like stifatho, a dish of spiced veal cubes traditionally offered at weddings.
Stay for: Seafood staples including a fillet of red snapper in white wine sauce.
Runners up: Christina’s on the Danforth, Penelope.

HOTEL DINING — Epic at the Fairmont Royal York
Go for: Meaty, Canadian-sourced mains—Ontario pork, Alberta lamb and more—seasoned with herbs grown in the hotel’s own rooftop garden.
Stay for: Ocean Wise–certified sustainable fish from both the east and west coasts.
Runners up: Victor at the Hôtel le Germain, Victoria’s Restaurant at Le Méridien King Edward Hotel.

Epic at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel

INDIAN — Little India
Go for: A laid-back lunch with downtown friends. The daily buffet is fresh and very reasonably priced.
Stay for: The rich and savoury butter chicken, plus a wide variety of vegetarian entrees.
Runners up: 259 Host, Babur.

ITALIAN — Zucca Trattoria
Go for: The daily selection of market-fresh whole grilled fish, presented by knowledgeable servers and paired with Italian vino.
Stay for: House-made pastas—try the strozapretti or casunsei ampezzani—that are counted among the city’s best.
Runners up: Mistura, Bellini’s.

JAPANESE — Funé
Go for: Varied pickings at the moat-encircled sushi bar. Grab what you like from the bamboo boats for a quick meal before catching a show in the Theatre District.
Stay for: Charbroiled Atlantic salmon with teriyaki sauce.
Runners up: Ki Modern Japanese & Bar, Nami.

ROMANTIC — 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower
Go for: The unforgettable revolving vistas afforded at more than 351 metres above Toronto. The city’s expanse twinkles wonderfully when it’s lit up at night.
Stay for: A rack of slow-roasted Canadian AAA prime beef ribs—big enough to share with your date—plus vintages from the world’s highest wine cellar.
Runners up: North 44, Trattoria Sotto Sotto.

Fisherman's Wharf

SEAFOOD — Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco
Go for: The mammoth seafood platter for two, which could include everything from lobster and Alaskan king crab legs to oysters, scallops and shrimp.
Stay for: Cherry wood–planked Tasmanian sea trout and grilled, miso-glazed
black cod are reliable options.
Runners up: Pier 4 Storehouse, Rodney’s Oyster House.

SERVICE — Bâton Rouge Restaurant
Go for: Grilled-to-order steaks and the restaurant’s signature pork back ribs, of course.
Stay for: The Toronto Eaton Centre location’s attentive staff, who ensure your business lunch or pre-theatre meal goes off without a hitch.
Runners up: George, Pangaea.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN — Golden Thai
Go for: Green curry chicken is an ever-popular choice, as is the Thai steak with mushrooms, peppers and lemon-coriander sauce.
Stay for: Pad Thai. This long-standing resto was one of the first to jump-start the city’s Thai food love affair and its staple dish still satisfies.
Runners up: Bangkok Garden, Mengrai Gourmet Thai.

STEAKHOUSE — The Keg
Go for: Dependable cuts of beef—like juicy New York striploin—available at seven Toronto locations, one of which is an impossibly elegant Victorian mansion.
Stay for: Surf-and-turf combo platters including prime rib and lobster tail, and teriyaki sirloin with tiger shrimp.
Runners up: Barberian’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

WINE LIST — Reds Bistro & Wine Bar
Go for: A Proustian list of bottled and by-the-glass vintages sourced by sommelier Carol Racicot and matched with bistro-style cuisine.
Stay for: Your choice of more than 30 international cheeses, plus a varied charcuterie.
Runners up: Opus, Via Allegro.

Hot Dining: Burger Bounty

The decadent burger at Bymark

The quintessential summer entree comes highly recommended at these local restaurants.

1 The lunch-menu burger at Beer Bistro is seasoned with Belgian ale and arrives on a beer-buttermilk bun ($10.95). Pair it with an imported cold one on the large patio.

2 Star chef Mark McEwan’s burger at Bymark is notoriously decadent with brie de meaux, grilled king mushroom and shaved truffles ($34.95).

3 Ontario beef is served thick and juicy at the Drake Hotel. The Queen West fave’s “classic” burger is tastefully topped with blue cheese, onions, bacon, jalapeños and Dijon aioli ($18).

4 Fresh-baked challah bread sandwiches your succulent choice of either Angus beef ($17) or New Zealand lamb ($19)—plus tangy tomato jam and Quebec brie—at Loire.

5 At Yellow Griffin Pub there are almost too many burgers: more than 35 options for fixin’s on eight different patties—beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, veggie, bison and salmon ($10.95 to $14.35).