The spirit of Oktoberfest can now be enjoyed year-round on King Street West, courtesy of Wvrst. Pronounced “verst,” this modern beer hall-style space offers a casual atmosphere, communal tables and chef-owner Aldo Lanzillotta’s menu of artisanal sausages and fries. Eager eaters can choose from 18 different sausage options—including Italian with pork and Sicilian fennel ($6), vegetarian kielbasa ($7) and game meats like Guinea fowl or wild boar ($9)—served on a fresh roll or currywurst style. Be sure to add a serving of crisp, golden fries ($3.50 to $6.50), and wash it all down with a stein of Canadian, American or European ale.
Truffles at Soma (photo by Arounna Khounnoraj)
Indulge a craving for the artisan creations of
David Castellan and Cynthia Leung’s Soma Chocolatemaker at its recently opened location on King sweet, er, King Street West. While the original Distillery Historic District shop is a raw space reflective of its brewery origins, this second outpost is sunlit and inviting, with earthy wood and Algonquin limestone counters. Leung, an architecture grad, collaborated with woodworking masters the Brothers Dressler to create the rustic space accented with the siblings’ distinctive branch chandelier. A main attraction is the open truffle lab, where you can watch specialty truffles come to fruition. Other Soma signature items are also available, from chocolate bars to hot chocolate mix and creamy gelato. And though the mighty cocoa bean is the star here, there is also a daily menu of light eats like pastries, focaccia and sandwiches.
King Street stalwart Brassaii has spruced up for spring with a new chef and an updated interior. The restaurant’s vast, historic warehouse space remains an exemplar of the industrial-chic aesthetic, but now offers a front-of-house café area—perfect for enjoying a morning coffee and fresh-baked Danish—plus such welcome decor enhancements as antique doors from Egypt, a reclaimed barn-wood accent wall, and a lighting feature made of old fire extinguishers. For lunch and dinner, the large open kitchen, now helmed by chef Bruce Woods (formerly of Centro), serves up a compelling mix of familiar elements and modern flair in such dishes as lobster ravioli ($24), roast ostrich ($32) and black cod with spiced mango coleslaw ($29).
In Toronto, it seems that everything hip migrates west. The latest example: Dolce Social Ballroom, which slings up a velvet rope along the increasingly trendy strip of King Street between Bathurst and Spadina. However, unlike neighbouring resto-lounge-club hybrids (especially those in the downtown clubbing district), this venue caters exclusively to a mature crowd—think late-20s and older—that seeks high-end glamour and is willing to pay for it.
The result of an ambitious collaboration between 28-year-old nightlife impresario Travis Agresti and Charles Doell of California-based design firm Mr. Important, the stylish space features gold-plated pillars, sumptuously textured walls and glowing origami lanterns suspended from the ceiling. Those looking for a seriously swank night out can reserve a private booth in the multi-tiered seating area, where the VIP experience comes complete with a personal hostess for the table and such up-market finger foods as gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches and gold-leaf chocolate cupcakes.
Inspired by Las Vegas’s renowned night spots, Agresti describes his new multi-million dollar venture as “a luxurious playground for adults,” a destination spot where party-loving professionals can let loose to the eclectic sounds of classic rock, house music and live special-guest DJs. Dress to impress as a fashionably chic style code is in effect.
Thu.-Sat. (Fri.: Ladies only before midnight). Cover $20. 647 King St. W., 416-361-9111.