Sunday, October 13, 2013

Talking About Toronto

I had wanted to go to Toronto for such a long time, I'm not sure exactly why or what I thought the city was all about (a-boot?) but we finally had an excuse when Dayne's cousin got married there in June.

The first thing I found out about Toronto is that the price of hotels basically rivals those in New York! Unfortunately the reviews that go along with the hotel costs describe aging properties without any personality. We chose to stay at the Cambridge Suites which was where the families were staying and was within walking distance to the ceremony location. The hotel was good, right downtown and easy to jump on the subway or just walk around. All the rooms were suites which was also nice, having a separate living room makes it feel much bigger. The hotel was definitely on the older side but we were happy with it for the price.

The first night in town we grabbed a cab and headed to Rock Lobster for lobster rolls, lobster poutine, and oysters.  The food and atmosphere here are good, casual and a bit loud. Very fun spot if you are in the area, I wouldn't go out of your way for it though.

After dinner we headed to The Miller Tavern, not owned by us and not a tavern per say. But this should be a must-not-miss on any cocktail loving person's stop. It's a gorgeous bar and they are doing really unusually flavored cocktails, like my Cobble Hill with bourbon, dry vermouth, Montenegro and cucumber. We also got to try their brown butter popcorn bourbon... YUM!

We didn't have much planned as far as sightseeing goes, in fact we found it a bit strange upon reading up on the city that there are only a handful of real "tourist" things to see/do. We were advised to enjoy the neighborhoods, which would have been great, except that the weather was unseasonably cold, dumping rain at times, making leisurely strolls a no-go.

We did check out the Lawrence Market, I'm always happy to wander market stalls in any city, and had a traditional peameal bacon sandwich from the Carousel Bakery.
 We decided to brave the weather after lunch and took the subway to the stop for Casa Loma, and then walked up the hill to the castle. We weren't particularly interested in touring the old mansion but since the weather wasn't cooperating with us we thought "why not?". But once we were there, and saw that the entrance fee was over $20 each, we decided to ditch the plan and head back downtown.
 
We found a cute little cafe right by our hotel called the Gaberdine, which is a good stop if you are needing a late lunch or snack.

That night, after meeting a friend who we hadn't seen since she lived in Paris, for a much too short catch-up, we headed to The Harbord Room to meet up with Darcy O'Neil and Lauren Mote, who was doing an evening of Bittered Sling cocktails. Another spot I would highly recommend, the food all looked and smelled delicious and the cocktails were lovely!

That night Dayne's parents arrived and we all met up for a decadent dinner at Cafe Boulud. Toronto seems to be the 2nd stop for many New York chef's. The restaurant is in the Four Seasons and if you are looking for a nice dinner, you can't go wrong booking here.

One day we rented a car and drove to Niagara Falls.  You can't get more touristy than this and we loved it! The falls are truly spectacular, the size of them almost unbelievable. We bought our tickets to the Maid of the Mist, donned our complimentary rain ponchos and set sail. Oh my god!! So much fun! We got drenched even with the poncho. The boat takes you so close, you wonder how they don't get sucked into the powerful pull of the water. If you go to Niagara and don't do this tour you are missing out!

The town itself is nothing but wax museums and chain restaurants, nothing to see there. But just strolling along the falls after the boat ride was so enjoyable!
We didn't have time to stop, but on the drive back we went through Niagara on the Lake which is super picturesque with scores of bike trails and wineries, lots of icewine. Next time...
We got back in town and made a quick stop at BYOB, an absolute must for all things cocktail, like Bittered Sling bitters, antique bar carts, glasses, etc. It's like the Barkeeper of Toronto!
That night we had an amazing dinner at Momofuko Shoto. 10 courses of amazing food, made in front of us by a team of 6 chefs, each serving us their particular dish. The restaurant only serves at 17 each seating, with only 2 seatings per night, all seats are bar style around the open kitchen.
A stunning meal, I'd do it again in a heartbeat! And after dinner we went downstairs to Nikai, their cocktail bar. The Momofuku building is really interesting, a cube with 3 floors, 3 restaurants and the bar.

On our last day the weather brightened up, it was sunny, warm and clear. We went to our friend's house for a relaxing catch-up brunch with her and herAb family in their back yard. After brunch Dayne and I headed to Rogers Center for a Toronto Blue Jays game. A perfect afternoon for baseball and Canadian beer (skip the food here though, ugh!)

We had a great time at the wedding, getting a chance to see many family members that we haven't seen since our wedding. Toronto wasn't as exciting as I thought it would have been but I'd happily go back to do a bit more eating and drinking!

Toronto photos here.