Toronto Pride 2012: Out, Loud, and Proud
WHERE TO EAT:
La Société: A blast of belle époque Paris along Toronto’s Bloor Street, La Société is an opulent brasserie outfitted with a stunning stained-glass ceiling, leather banquettes, mahogany furnishings, and a zinc bar.
Opened in June of 2011 by Toronto entertainment mogul (and owner of the Guvernment nightclub) Charles Khabouth, the expansive 7,000-square foot restaurant also includes a street-level patio, perfect for sipping Champagne and slurping oysters while watching the fashionable parade along Toronto’s "Mink Mile."
As perfect for a morning-after brunch as it is for a seductive midnight rendez-vous, La Société hits all the sweet spots.
LINK: La Société
Nota Bene Restaurant: One of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, Nota Bene was named Canada’s best new restaurant by both "Toronto Life" and "enRoute" magazines.
Chef/owner David Lee’s latest eatery opened in July 2008 on Queen Street West in a location that draws artists from West Queen Street West as well as the suits from nearby University Avenue. Lee is also the principal behind Toronto’s beloved Splendido restaurant and he defines his menu at Nota Bene as "Canadian bistro moderne," which means locally sourced, seasonal ingredients in the service of contemporary Canadian cuisine.
The stylish dining room, a few steps up from a sleek cocktail bar, is a vision of dark wood accented with abstract urban landscape paintings. Cocktails are as potent as they are creative, while a plate of local white asparagus dotted with shaved summer truffle was a luxuriant nod to Canadian summer.
Desserts include an intoxicating Sticky Toffee Pudding with Pecan Praline and Spotted Dick Ice Cream. Order a second one for the table - so you can enjoy yours all by yourself.
LINK: Nota Bene Restaurant
The Drake: Before the Drake opened on Valentine’s Day 2004, it’s unlikely that you would have considered the neighborhood for fine dining - or even for a stroll, and definitely not after certain hours. The gritty West Queen Street West neighborhood has changed significantly in the past decade, thanks in large part to the Drake, which has bestowed a fashionable, artistic cachet on the area. Housed in a building that dates to the 1890s, the Drake was once known as the Stardust Inn, which befits the numerous art stars who currently congregate at the hotel-cum-gallery.
Eating at the Drake offers numerous options at a half dozen venues scattered throughout the Drake’s labyrinthine premises. Take breakfast in the Cafe or lunch in the Dining Room; head to the Lounge for an aperitif and to the Sky Yard for a pre-dinner cocktail. Seasonal art installations create completely new environments. For summer, the entire hotel becomes Drakeland, the hotel’s homage to amusement parks, complete with watermelon-eating contests and tarot card readers - and a miniature roller coaster in the lobby.
A playhouse of contemporary art, the Drake is an integral part of the neighborhood and a hotbed of community culture. Dive into the Drake and see what’s cool about Toronto.
LINK: The Drake Hotel
The Vic Public House: Home of the largest patio on Church Street, the Vic Public House affords prime seating for the endless zoological parade during Toronto Pride.
Located in the (reputedly haunted) Victorian mansion that once housed Fuzion, the restaurant serves gastro-pub fare that works equally well before a bar crawl as it does after a beer binge. Mac-n-cheese, cubed and crusted in panko, and served with a homemade cheese sauce is particularly decadent - and certain to provide you with a second wind.
On pleasant evenings, with the boys catwalking by your table, you’ll be tempted to linger and create your own party.
LINK: The Vic Public House
(Travel feature continues on next pages: Getting There, Additional Info...)