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Queen Street West

Hot Dining: Toast Your Health at Ursa

photo by Christopher Katsarov Luna

One of the pitfalls of contemporary Canadian cooking is a tendency to overemphasize proteins—charcuterie remains hugely popular, and meaty mains can sometimes see huge slabs of beef, pork and lamb crowding out their accompaniments. Not so at Ursa.

Chef and co-owner Jacob Sharkey Pearce has a background as a nutritional consultant for athletes; his menu and methods place significant emphasis on healthy eating, which ensures every delicate dish balances not-too-big portions of, say, pork loin or Great Lakes whitefish with a bounty of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits, and in certain instances, silky house-made kefir, yogurt or tofu. Locals seem to approve of the concept—the cabin-chic Queen West space has done brisk business since its January opening.

Ursa, 924 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-536-8963, ursa-restaurant.com.

Hot Shopping: Hats Off to Goorin Bros.

There was a time when headgear in Canada meant little more than baseball hats and winter toques. In recent years, however, hats have taken a stylish turn and become fashion statements unto themselves—fedoras, cloches, page boy caps and wide-brimmed straw chapeaus are all hot accessories. Fittingly, renowned milliner Goorin Bros. recently opened its first Toronto shop. Times have certainly changed since Cassel Goorin first sold hats from his horse cart in 1895; although there are more than 20 stores across the U.S. and Canada, the company remains family owned. Its second Canadian boutique—Vancouver boasts the first international location of the San Fransico-based business—is a charming space with inverted gramophones and row upon row of hats, hats and more hats. For an additional fee, you can personalize your look by adding feathers or even a sterling silver pin. Open daily. 320 Queen St. W., 416-408-4287.

Hot Shopping: Get the Blues at G-Star Raw

The designer denim trend isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s been reinforced with the opening of G-Star Raw in the fashionable Queen Street West neighbourhood. The Dutch label has earned a following—count Justin Bieber a fan—for its unwashed, untreated denim. The spring 2012 collection sees the incorporation of moulded denim, a new treatment that uses steam and baking techniques to help form the fabric so that it can be perfectly contoured to one’s body. Open daily. 328 Queen St. W., 416-977-8828.

Hot Dining: Uncommonly Good at the County General

photo by Nikki Leigh McKean

There are a lot of fun, lively eateries to be found along Queen Street West. The one that you’ll particularly want to visit on a warm spring day is The County General. Run by the owners of ritzy Splendido, the restaurant offers its predecessor’s thoughtful service and high-quality cooking in a more casual, wallet-friendly package. Here, hip locals fill the bright dining room and street-side patio for lunch, dinner, brunch and late-night nosh including a buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich ($14), pork tacos ($15) and banana bread French toast ($14, brunch only). Choose your drink from the all-Canadian wine list, or go for that Southern vibe with a glass of premium rum or bourbon.

Where in Toronto: From Roncesvalles to Trinity Bellwoods

Our writer's going to miss the friendly confines of Roncesvalles Avenue

Each week, our intrepid interns reflect on life
and times in the big city.

For some time now there’s been talk of a housing shortage in Toronto, particularly when it comes to rental units, so when my boyfriend and I began our search for a new place, we were spooked. And yet, fortune smiled on us and gave us not only a (light-filled, two-level) space, but the very one that we’d fallen for head over heels. After a great deal of whooping and hugging, we decided to celebrate by walking from our current nabe, Roncesvalles, to our future ‘hood, Queen Street West at Trinity Bellwoods Park. (more…)

Hot Shopping: Designer Deals at a New Winners

Winners has handbags (and clothes, and housewares, and more)

Bargain hunters are sure to welcome the opening of another Winners location in the downtown core. The latest destination for discount shoppers is along Queen Street West, and offers more than 21,000 square feet of clothing, footwear and accessories for the entire family, as well as the Runway at Winners collection featuring items from Paris, Milan and London’s top fashion houses. Homewares, giftware and jewellery round out the store’s stock.

Hot Shopping: Street Style at Bicyclette

Inspired by dolled-up European women who travel around on two wheels, Paige Boersma’s Bicyclette Boutique offers apparel and accessories to match this lifestyle aesthetic. Originally a blog and webstore, the dreamy shop offers a global selection of indie labels as well as local goods, including flirty dresses by Dolce Vita and Motel, gauzy tops from MinkPink, and jewels by Biko.

Hot Shopping: Stacey Zhang’s New Digs

Montreal-based fashion designer Stacey Zhang can now call Toronto home, too. Her new store on trendy Queen Street West is a gallery-like showcase for her eponymous ready-to-wear collection of affordable, contemporary and environmentally sustainable clothing for women. The hot Canadian designer is best known for her sublime fabric choices, including a growing selection of eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and bamboo. Flirty and feminine tailored blazers, loose dresses and funky capri pants are among the highlights of Zhang’s spring collection, marked by her keen eye for detail and embellished with such details as bows, asymmetrical lines and braids.

Chef at Home: Ricardo Larrivée

If you like the affable, comforting persona of chef Ricardo Larrivée from his Food Network Canada show Ricardo and Friends, you can now bring him home with you. Sort of. The bilingual Quebec-based host—episodes of his popular series are filmed in the Chambliss home Larrivée shares with his wife and three daughters—has launched a line of cook- and bakeware available at Sears. The complete collection consists of pots, pans, utensils, and even storage containers. A frequent visitor to Toronto, Larrivée shares his thoughts on this city.

What are your favourite places to visit when in Toronto?

I love the antique stores in Yorkville. Also the Royal Ontario Museum, Pusateri’s, Stillwater Spa, and Kensington Market (at Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West) for its food, bars and ambience. (more…)

Hot Shopping: Lomo Photo Mania

As the saying goes, “everything old is new again.” The resurgence of Lomography, the Austrian company known for its brightly hued analogue cameras, is a testament to this adage. The Lomography Gallery Store appeals to this nostalgia, drawing in the brand’s longtime cult followers and attracting new fans with products such as the sought-after fisheye camera, beloved for its quirky spherical perspective. The Queen West outpost—the only such store in Canada—is part boutique, part art space and part classroom, with knowledgeable staff who answer questions or give on-the-spot lessons. Beginners and more experienced Lomography photographers can sign up for workshops. Visitors can also seek inspiration from the thousands of photos curated on the Lomo Wall.

Yours to Discover: Day Six

Winter’s on its way out; it’s time to get a head start on exploring. Guide yourself with our specialized itineraries, or contact one of Toronto’s many tour operators to delve deeper into this multifaceted metropolis. And don’t forget to check out previous Yours to Discover posts, here: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four.

Harry Rosen

SARTORIAL STROLLS
Get kitted out and catwalk-ready in Toronto’s most fashion-forward locales.

CANUCK COUTURE The touring fashionista’s must-visit strip, Bloor Street West, between Yonge Street and Avenue Road, is home to a bevy of Canadian-owned retailers with global cachet, including Holt Renfrew—Toronto’s answer to Saks Fifth Avenue—fine menswear mecca Harry Rosen, and distinguished beaver-emblazoned brand Roots.

INTERNATIONAL ICONS Bloor Street also showcases standalone shops representing world-famous fashion houses, including French favourites Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, Italian labels like Gucci and Prada, as well as German stalwart Hugo Boss. Be sure to accessorize your new ensemble with baubles from Birks, Cartier or Tiffany & Co.

Eleven

SINGULAR STYLE Moving north from Bloor into tony Yorkville ensures encounters with boutiques offering personalized service and unique, on-trend attire. Ladies are encouraged to try 119 Corbo, Eleven, Hugo Nicholson and the Pink Tartan store Seventy-Seven. Finery for fellows is found at Nicolas Men and Anti-Hero, among others.

INDEPENDENT SPIRIT On Queen Street, west of Bathurst, you’re sure to make a contemporary fashion “find.” For women, Robber is one of many inspired indie shops that curate new looks by emerging and established designers from Canada and abroad, while Preloved offers more relaxed garments made from reclaimed fabrics. Modish men stride into Green Shag for bespoke shirts and suits, and attention-grabbing stores like Ruins, which stock exclusive labels in gallery-like settings.

The professional image consultants of The Refinery offer a variety of weekly shopping tours that take you to chic boutiques throughout the city.