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Loire

You Are Here: Harbord Street

With welcoming restaurants, cozy, independent cafés and specialty boutiques, this short strip offers a bit of small-town charm in the big city.

View You Are Here: Harbord Street in a larger map

CAFFEINE FIX Award-winning barista Sam James has long been a driving force behind Toronto’s indie java movement. His eponymous Sam James Coffee Bar is known for its personal service and superior beans. Order a classic espresso, find a new favourite like a soy or chai latte, or select the science lab–style siphon coffee for a true artisanal experience.

Sam James Coffee Bar

CREATIVE CERAMICS Clay Design has offered its high-quality, Canadian-crafted wares at the corner of Harbord Street and Brunswick Avenue since 1980. From mugs to vases and everything in between, pottery lovers are certain to find that perfect piece for the kitchen or dining room. Resident artists are pleased to offer knowledge on different styles, shapes and functions.

TREAT YOURSELF Chef Donald Duong has catered to the Queen of England, Pope John-Paul II and Barack Obama; his talents are evident in the delectable creations at DT Bistro. Take your pick of numerous sweet treats including cakes, tarts, strudels and parfaits, or savour brunch, lunch and dinner in the bistro’s casual-chic environs.

CASUAL GOURMET Childhood friends Jean-Charles Dupoire and Sylvain Brissonnet pair well as the respective chef and sommelier at Loire. Named for the region once called the “garden of France,” this restaurant nods to French culinary tradition, but its dishes are thoroughly modern and utilize many Ontario-sourced ingredients.

Splendido's front-of-house bar

CROWDED HOUSE The diminutive Harbord Room pays homage to Canadian-style cuisine in bar bites and contemporary staples made with seasonal, organic products. The formula must be working: the dining room is often packed with enthusiastic foodies enjoying chef Cory Vitiello’s favoured fare. As the weather warms up, request a table on the secluded back patio.

PREMIUM VENUE One of Toronto’s top fine dining destinations, Splendido specializes in locally flavoured delicacies that are sure to excite the senses—chef Victor Barry’s offerings include a foie gras parfait, liguine with mussels and clams, and suckling pig boudin noir. It’s a great special-occasion spot, and groups can reserve the private “Cellar” to dine amongst the restaurant’s collection of wines.

TIFF List: 10 Celeb-Approved Nosh Spots

The Toronto International Film Festival is ramping up for its 35th excellent year, with more than 300 movies showing between September 9 and 19. Follow this space in the days leading up to TIFF 2010 for features on much-anticipated premieres, the Bell Lightbox—the festival’s exciting new headquarters—and scads of sites at which to spot visiting celebrities. During the festival itself, we’ll bring you details on each day’s film offerings plus what to do before or after your screening.

TODAY: DINE WITH THE STARS
Find out which famous patrons have been attracted to the fare at these top restaurants and cafés.

Tomorrow: The 2010 Toronto International Film Festival officially begins!

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).

Wherelist: Best New Restaurants 2009

Where editors from across the country have cast their ballots for the Best New Restaurants to open in Canada in 2009. From creative twists on traditional cuisines to stylish décors and high quality food for reasonable prices, these are the eateries you won’t want to miss from coast to coast.

Veneto Tapa Lounge, Victoria

Victoria’s best new restaurant takes traditional tapas to a whole new level. Led by chef Tod Bosence, the sophisticated, urban Veneto Tapa Lounge offers both a hip bar area and quieter dining room, ideal for enjoying Bosence’s creative dinner menu. Each entree is presented tapas style – those in the mood for beef, for example, will enjoy it three ways: veal ravioli with portabella mushroom ragout and roasted garlic cream sauce; marinated short rib with parmesan polenta cake; and New York strip roulade with spicy lobster stuffing and bordelaise sauce.

Cibo Trattoria, Vancouver

With London’s River Café alumnus Neil Taylor heading up the kitchen and ex-Lumiere general manager/sommelier Sebastien Le Goff in charge, it didn’t take long for Cibo to gain a solid reputation for its vibrant rustic Italian cuisine, thoroughly grounded in West Coast ingredients. Taylor’s dishes, which change by the week (if not the day), are constructed with uncomplicated—but wickedly exacting—flair.

Parker House Grill & Wine Bar, Calgary

Parker House is the kind of place where diners can experience high quality service, ambience and food, for a reasonable price tag. Chef Andrew Keen, known for his excellence in “forgotten fare,” has created a menu inspired by traditional New England comfort dishes with creative twists. For dinner, most entrees (with the exception of their steaks) sit in the mid-twenties range, while diners on a budget can try one of their thin-crust pizzas for as low as $12.88.

Creations Dining Room & Lounge, Sawridge Inn Edmonton South, Edmonton

Artful, delicious dining at Creations—the paint’s barely dry and the buzz is on for the eclectic Canadian fusion cuisine of Creations, the stunning new dining room and lounge in the atrium of the Sawridge Inn Edmonton South. Walls of fire, water, badlands hoodoos and a huge dreamcatcher treat the senses as menu items entice patrons to explore palate pleasers such as Sherried Beef Caprese.

Rustica Steakhouse, Canadian Rockies

Rustic has earned its place as one of the Canadian Rockies’ top restaurants for its elegant ‘mountain lodge’ atmosphere and uncompromising dedication to Canada Prime Beef. But it’s the cuisine of Caribbean-born Chef Stefan Mahon that keeps them coming back for more. Only the top 0.3% of beef in Canada earns Prime designation (a superior grade to AAA)—Stefan’s New York cuts, grand filet mignon and prime rib chops are prepared with a signature dry rub, seared under a 1500°F (815°C) broiler and presented on 500°F (260°C) plates with garlic butter.

Hermanos, Winnipeg

Winnipeggers are feeling the Latin heat thanks to the fiery flavours of South American cuisine at this year’s arrival of Hermanos Restaurant and Wine Bar. Set in a 5,500-square-foot warehouse in the Exchange District, fast lunches, tapas and mains are found on the mainly Argentinean- and Brazilian-influenced menu. The crispy fried empanadas are a must-try.

Raw Aura, Mississauga

Raw Aura, true to its name, offers a menu of entirely raw cuisine—the better to emphasize the natural and nourishing properties of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts. In an intimate yet airy space, friendly staff dish out delectably fresh fare including a “peace wrap” bursting with avocado, tomatoes, carrots, kale, sprouts and hummus, and zesty lo-mein featuring noodles made of zucchini and golden beets.

Loire, Toronto

Loire, a self-described “casual gourmet” spot, well-situated along increasingly foodie-friendly Harbord Street offers fresh, seasonal dishes that could include chili- and cornmeal-crusted Lake Erie whitefish, grilled New York striploin and a succulent beef or lamb burger on challah bread. This intimate restaurant effortlessly straddles the line between relaxed neighbourhood fave and boldface fine-dining destination.

Teca, Muskoka

Overlooking Lake Rosseau is Teca, a fine Italian restaurant located within the luxurious Rosseau Resort & Spa. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Muskoka Lakes, find this decidedly urban dining room and a centrally located open kitchen that dishes up authentic rustic Italian fare. Tuck into freshly made pasta—from papperdelle and gnocchi to spaghetti and meatballs—or thin crust pizza made in a wood-stone oven, as well as veal chops, fish, striploin and rack of lamb.

The Grand Pizzeria & Bar, Ottawa

Nestled on one of the most auspicious corners in Ottawa’s bustling ByWard Market, The Grand Pizzeria is a popular addition to the downtown dining scene. Built in the late 17th century, this enviable location once housed The Grand Hotel. Today, it’s home to the perfect pizza pie. Traditional Italian appetizers (antipasti, salads) make way for the main attraction: authentic Napoletana pizza. The dough is created and hand-pressed by Master Pizzaiolo Pasqualino Oliveri, who placed first in the 2004 European Pizza Championship, among other honours.

Pipa Restaurant & Bar, Halifax

Chef Luis Gaspar and partner Victoria Dunham Gaspar are longtime veterans of Halifax’s dining scene. And when they decided to embark on a project all their own, they saw a glaring omission in the city’s dining scene. Specializing in Portuguese cuisine, with rich, filling and full-flavoured dishes. Pipa is the only restaurant of its type in Halifax, specializing in Old World and Brazilian dishes such as Moqueca (fish stew) and Feijoada (a stew of meats and black beans). Seafood dishes abound, including fresh grilled sardines.

July Editor’s Picks: Dining

Forte Bistro & Lounge.

1. Opera and ballet lovers have a new option for a pre- or post-show bite. Just steps from the Four Seasons Centre, Forte recently opened in an equally theatrical and surprisingly large space, highlighted by walnut trim in the front-of-house, mirrored red glass and a three-dimensional accent wall in the central dining area, plus a sleek lounge at the rear. Artfully plated bistro fare by chef Greg Argent (formerly of fusion institution Rain) suits the surroundings with such dishes as coq au vin with honey mushrooms ($25) and slow-cooked rabbit with pappardelle ($25). The pre-preformance prix fixe menu offers a streamlined selection for $30—though you’ll want to take time to savour these tastes, efficient servers ensure you’re satiated before the curtain rises across the street.

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May Editor’s Picks: Dining

Loire

Loire Casual Gourmet (Photo by Paul Kittmer).

The number of restaurants adhering loosely to the model of simple, affordable fare served in an attractive yet informal setting has grown exponentially in this city. Joining the fray is Loire, a self-described “casual gourmet” spot along increasingly foodie-friendly Harbord Street. With fresh, seasonal dishes that could include seared Ontario rainbow trout ($24), grilled flank steak ($25) and the beef or lamb Loire burger on challah bread ($17), the intimate resto effortlessly straddles the line between relaxed neighbourhood fave and boldface fine-dining destination. No surprise, considering the pedigree of its owners: chef Jean-Charles Dupoire last toiled for the Fairmont Royal York’s Epic, while sommelier Sylvain Brissonnet spent more than a decade at revered Langdon Hall.

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