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Susur Lee

Hot Dining: Bent Keeps Food in the Family

Dotted with smallish, neighbourhood restaurants that nonetheless draw diners from across the city—see The Black Hoof, Campagnolo and more—the Dundas West strip is now even more foodie friendly, courtesy of a top chef and his clan. Bent is the second Toronto outpost for experiencing the food of Asian-fusion master Susur Lee, offering a seafood-heavy carte of casual bites prepared with cosmopolitan flair. In keeping with the area’s inclusive vibe, the restaurant itself is run with confidence by the chef’s sons, Kai and Levi Bent-Lee; his wife, Brenda Bent-Lee, designed the nostalgia-tinged interior featuring subway tiles, church pews and a trio of antique pachinko machines.  —Craig Moy

Hot Dining: Scott Conant’s Taste of Italy

Scott Conant's spaghetti

In addition to many restaurants run by locally based boldface chefs like Susur Lee and Lynn Crawford, Toronto can now boast of attracting a culinary icon from abroad. This summer, New York chef Scott Conant opens the first international outpost of his well-reviewed Scarpetta. Like Conant’s seasonally inspired menu—featuring his signature spaghetti plus new recipes utilizing fresh, local ingredients—the 150-seat Italian establishment melds old and new, as natural woods, bronze and leather accents, and hand-blown glass chandeliers simultaneously evoke rustic Tuscany and up-to-the-minute Milan. In all, it’s both a complementary space within the new Thompson Hotel, and a dynamic addition to Toronto’s dining scene. Call for hours and to reserve. 550 Wellington St. W., 416-640-7778.

Weekend Roundup, July 16 to 18

A weekend filled with festivals, concerts, theatre and culture! Toronto’s multiculturalism openly displayed right in front of your eyes. Lots to choose from, so little time…

Friday: Revel in Shakespearean derring-do under the stars at High Park (photo by Chris Gallow)

Friday, July 16
Spend your evening at the launch of the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival at Woodbine Park, where you can enjoy some fresh air while listening to top acts like Digging Roots and Jay Douglas & The All-Stars. Bring a blanket or some chairs, recline on the grass and celebrate the weekend with free music. If you like what you hear, be sure to come back Saturday and Sunday for more.

Fall in love with Shakespeare under the stars at the Canadian Stage TD Dream in High Park, which offers a pay-what-you-can performance of Romeo Juliet with a modern twist—the story of the star-crossed lovers is told using iPods and other contemporary props.

Tantalize your taste buds for less thanks to Summerlicious. The popular dining sees restaurants offering three-course meals at a fixed price. Make a reservation to sample the cuisines of the world at such Toronto favourites as Alize (Italian), Bangkok Garden (Thai), Célestin (French), Jaipur Grille (Indian) and Katsura (Japanese).

Or, try a different kind of ‘licious menu at Lee. Its “Susur-licious” menu, named for star chef and owner Susur Lee, is a three-course prix fixe featuring dishes from Lee’s tenure on the Food Network’s Top Chef Masters.

Saturday: See Geddy Lee and the rest of Rush (photo by ceedub13)

Saturday, July 17
Forget the 19-hour flight to the other side of the world. Today you can experience Indian culture on Toronto’s Centre Island, which hosts the annual Festival of India. Your immersion includes Indian music, dance, food and dramatic performances, plus crafts and souvenirs available from the bazaar. An exhibition reflecting the country’s history offers further enlightenment.

Swing by the Distillery Historic District to grab a bite from one of its many restaurants or cafés, then be sure to check out one of two Soulpepper Theatre Company shows at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Turgenev’s romantic comedy A Month in the Country is sure to stir up your emotions, and David French’s original and acclaimed Jitters also draws guffaws today.

Sing along with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart as they bring their Rush classics back to the Air Canada Centre. The legendary Canadian prog rock band‘s Time Machine tour is guaranteed to have you reminiscing about the glory days.

Come face to face with some of the world’s most celebrated historical artifacts at the Royal Ontario Museum’s landmark exhibition, The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army, featuring full-sized clay warriors from the tomb of Chinese emperor Ying Zheng.

Sunday: Don't forget your earplugs! The Hondy Indy zooms through Toronto

Sunday, July 18
There’s more musical nostalgia on offer at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, as Rock of Ages continues its successful run. This engaging show sets a rock ‘n’ roll love story to a soundtrack of ’80s hits by Journey, REO Speedwagon and many others.

South America’s largest nation gets a showcase this weekend at the Expressions of Brazil festival, part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer-long “world routes” programming. Today’s cultural mix includes samba performances, a drumming workshop, cooking and capoeira demonstrations and much more.

It’ll be easy to find Exhibition Place today—just head toward the sound of revving engines at the much-anticipated Honda Indy car race. Cheer on professional drivers like Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti as they speed toward the checkered flag.

Indulge in a decadent taste from the briny deep at the annual Ontario Oyster Festival hosted by Rodney’s Oyster House. For $30, guests can feast on some exceptional oysters, hear live music, cheer on competitive oyster shuckers and much more. All proceeds go to Environmental Defence, a charitable organization.

Weekend Roundup, August 21 to 23

Friday: Be a thrill-seeker at the CNE.

Friday: Be a thrill-seeker at the CNE.

Friday, August 21
It’s opening day of the Canadian National Exhibition, and in celebration of Toronto’s 175th anniversary, CNE admission today is just $1.75! Ride a roller coaster, play some midway games, then catch Canadian figure skating star Elvis Stojko and his comrades in a movie-themed ice show at Ricoh Coliseum.

Take in a traditional Tibetan dance amidst the vibrant hues of saris and the aroma of cooking curries at the Festival of South Asia in Little India.

Follow the rise of the stereobike crew—a group of Trinidadians in Queens, New York who rig full-size stereo systems onto BMX bikes—in Made in Queens, screening at the Bicycle Film Festival at The Royal cinema.

Saturday: Head to Chinatown for some East Asian revelry (photo by John Vetterli).

Saturday: Head to Chinatown for some East Asian revelry (photo by John Vetterli).

Saturday, August 22
Discover hidden vintage in the city by participating in the Textile Museum of Canada’s day-long thrift store bus tour, hosted by local artist Andrew Harwood and curator Allyson Mitchell.

Savour the Thai curry–braised lamb on the affordable Susurlicious prix fixe menu at Lee, one of the Toronto restaurants of globally renowed chef Susur Lee.

Bite into a Hong Kong–style egg puff while watching the Lion Dance troupe open the Toronto Chinatown Festival, an East Asian extravaganza featuring cuisine, crafts, music, dancing, games, kung-fu demonstrations and more.

Sunday: The curtain falls on The Harder They Come (photo by Robert Day).

Sunday: The curtain falls on The Harder They Come (photo by Robert Day).

Sunday August 23
Spread out in the Toronto Music Garden for an afternoon session of Summer Music in the Garden.
Today, four virtuoso accordionists play a wide-range of music, including tunes accompanied by singers and dancers.

Sit on the edge of your seat at the Rexall Centre to witness the world’s best female tennis players compete for the singles and doubles championships of the Rogers Cup.

Sing along to “Many Rivers to Cross” and other reggae favourites at the last Toronto performance of the hit musical The Harder They Come. Based on the 1972 film of the same name, the stage show follows a poor country boy trying to make it in Jamaica’s music industry.