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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The top 10 new restaurant openings in Toronto for November

Toronto restaurant openings November 2014As 2014 starts to wind down, restaurant openings in Toronto are still pushing forward full throttle. November turned out to be a banner month, with new Mexican, Italian and vegetarian eateries opening citywide.

Here are the top 10 new restaurant openings in Toronto for November 2014.

Pizzeria Libretto (University)

The third location of of this popular pizzeria landed in the Financial District this month. Fans of the other locations will be pleased to find their tried-and-true menu of signature VPN-approved pies

Ovest Cucina

Inventive seasonal fare and an all-Italian list of vino 120 labels strong are at the heart of this sprawling Italian restaurant on King West. Expect to find a lineup of pizzas and pastas, plus signature dishes like smoked swordfish carpaccio or tuna tartare over whipped buffalo mozzarella.


The laid-back one-room bistro on West Queen West is offering a concise but interesting array of dishes, including a peppery bavette steak with caramelized shallots, and an earthy vegetarian dish with crunchy granola, mixed mushrooms and egg.

K&K Food Stand

The second outpost from Kupfert & Kim debuted this month in the PATH under the Standard Life tower. Instead of replicating the already-established meatless, wheatless menu, the newly minted take-away counter is dishing up gluten-free waffles, vegan burgers and taco trios.

Wilbur Mexicana

King West gained a new fast casual eatery this fall with the opening of this new taqueria, where classics like chicken tinga and carne asada mix on the menu with baja fish and bulgogi. Highlights include an astounding array of hot sauces and a salsa bar - and, best of all, it's licensed.

Bar Fancy

Chef Jonathan Poon of Chantecler has opened this second effort on Queen West, where the menu focuses on snack foods like szechuan-spiced wings, nacho supreme platters and ultra-crispy fried chicken.

Queen Margherita Pizza

The long-awaited third location of this popular Leslieville-born pizza parlour launched this month on Dundas West at Bathurst. Just a stone's throw from the original Libretto, it looks like the turf war in pizzadom is just heating up.


Zane Caplansky has taken up residence at the Monarch Tavern again. The same kitchen that first incubated what is now a deli empire is the new home of a Southern smokehouse menu featuring brisket, pulled pork, hot links and ribs.


This new smoothie bar and vegetarian takeout counter at Dundas and Ossington is serving up hearty meat-free meals. Look forward to a revolving lineup of soups and daily specials like lobster mushroom carbonara.

Loaded Pierogi

This irreverent dumpling house in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood is where pockets of mashed potato and onion get piled with delicious goodies like wild mushrooms and truffles, lobster and hollandaise, or butter chicken.

Photo of Queen Margherita Pizza (Dundas West) by Jesse Milns.

by Liora Ipsum via blogTO

Film Buff cafe takes on a life of its own

film buff torontoAlong with the latest movie releases and cult flicks, The Film Buff has been doling out coffee, ice cream and baked treats for years. But times are changing at the Roncesvalles shop, and the film offerings have been condensed slightly to make way for an expanded cafe. With more room for cozy chairs and tables, it looks like a Roncy community hub just got a whole lot more welcoming.

Read my profile of The Local Hero in the cafes section.

by Erinn Beth Langille via blogTO

John Tory taps Denzil Minnan-Wong as deputy mayor

toronto john toryMayor-elect John Tory has revealed his picks for deputy mayor, the executive committee, and several other important positions for the next term of council.

Denzil Minnan-Wong, who most recently made headlines for holding a sign outside a public bathroom, will serve as Tory's official second in command, but the incoming mayor wants to appoint three other deputies to represent different parts of the city: Vince Crisanti in the west, Glenn DeBaeremaeker in the east, and Pam McConnell downtown. The move requires the approval of council, which will meet for the first time on Tuesday.

Under plans revealed Sunday, Cllr. Josh Colle, a SmartTrack supporter, will become the new TTC chair, Jaye Robinson the chair of the public works committee, and Gary Crawford the budget chief. Michelle Berardinetti will take over control of the parks committee, Paul Ainslie will be responsible for the government management committee, while Michael Thompson will stay on as chair of the economic development committee.

David Shiner will head up the planning committee chair, and Cesar Palacio will take on the municipal licensing and standards committee.

Rob Ford, perhaps for health reasons, is not expected to become part of the inner circle.

Under Tory, the executive committee will consist of two downtown councillors for the first time since the Ford era, Ana Bailao and Mary-Margaret McMahon, but other left-leaners have been shut out.

Surprisingly, Cllr. Frances Nunziata, who wasn't exactly renowned for her coolheaded control of the council chamber, will return for a second stint as speaker. Shelley Carroll will be her deputy.

The incoming mayor will also be sit on the police services board with Cllr. Carroll and Cllr. Chin Lee.

Norm Kelly, who was deputy and then de facto mayor after Ford was stripped of his powers, will not be returning to a key position at his own request, the Toronto Sun reports.

Notably absent, of course, are left-leaning councillors. One imagines that this team isn't so different from the one that Doug Ford would have assembled should he have been elected mayor. What do you think of Tory's choices?

Tory is due to meet Premier Kathleen Wynne tomorrow. He will be officially sworn in ahead of the first council meeting.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Jesse Milns/blogTO

by Chris Bateman via blogTO

Today in Toronto: Union Station Holiday Market, Art of Wine at MOCCA, Bartender Finals, Strand of Oaks

today in torontoToday in Toronto the first ever Union Station Holiday Market, running December 1-7, will see local vendors will packing Union Station. Here's everything you need to know. MOCCA wants to warm you up with their Transit Bar with a wine workshop tied to their current exhibition Vera Frenkel: Ways of Telling. At Revival, the competition will heat up at Canada's Female Bartender Finals. Skratch Bastid is on decks. For more events, click on over to our events section.

Have an event you'd like to plug? Submit your own listing to the blogTO Toronto events calendar or contact us directly.

Photo by omiala in the blogTO Flickr pool.

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO


Meet Cuso International

Begins: 4 December 2014 at 7:00 PM Ends: 4 December 2014 at 8:30 PM Where: 215 Spadina Avenue Organized by: Cuso International

by via Toronto Networking Events

The top concerts in Toronto December, 2014

toronto concerts decemberThe top concerts in Toronto this December will keep us heathens in tip top shape as we dart from one gloomy non-solstice gig to another, blissfully free of familial obligations with blood relatives who just don't get Gwar. (If you're leaving town for the holidays, sorry but you're missing some good music, and Skrillex.) Then on the 31st, New Year's Eve won't all be DJs - Rich Aucoin, Good Enough, Buck 65, the Sadies, and more will ring in the new year for live music fans.

Speaking of that New Year's kiss, here are your November music missed connections: if you were wearing something furry at Friday's Skinny puppy show, you have an admirer, and I hope this punktastic Not Dead Yet (top notch festival, well done everyone) meet up happened. And, tragically or not, if you accidentally held hands at a Tragically Hip show in early fall, someone is still thinking about you.

Here are my picks for December concerts in Toronto. May you find the love you need.

Jason Collett's Basement Revue (December 5, 12, 26, The Dakota)

Collett's annual Basement Revue shows promise an element of surprise, as you don't know who will be performing out of the star-studded contact list of locals on his phone. From punk to choral, find more holiday concerts here.

GZA (December 6, Adelaide Hall)

The Wu-Tang member is touring in advance of Dark Matter, to be released in 2015. The new disc has a definite science bent - see below.

GWAR (December 9, The Opera House)

Legendary Gwar live on despite the passing of Oderus Urungus. For this tour College music prof Blothar is back, and more importantly the band are made 1000 times more hardcore by artist Vulvatron, whose future-breasts spew blood. If Gwar can survive, maybe we can too.

Timber Timbre (December 11-13, Lee's Palace)

The band with a fancy name that still summons images of lumberjacks will be doing the just-give-me-indie-something thing for three straight engagements at Lee's this month. Sean Nicholas Savage opens on December 11th, FIVER on the 12th, and Last Ex on the 13th.

Long Winter (December 12, Great Hall)

It's fun, PWYC, and all ages. This carnival inspired multidisciplinary celebration of leaving the house in cold weather will feature music from Man Made Hill, Sean Nicholas Savage, Army Girls, Animalia, Wrong Hole, Wish, and more.

BADBADNOTGOOD (December 13, The Opera House)

Are they good-bad, or are they bad-good? Figure these genre fusing young men our with our jazz bands to watch list.

The Birthday Massacre (December 18, Mod Club)

Toronto's cuddliest bunch o' goths are back from tour and ready to make your holidays full Nightmare Before Christmas.

Austra (December 20, Opera House)

These bats of glittering neon wingspan may be more popular over in Europe, where dancing to strange electronic music is as natural as owning eighteen different plaid button downs is over here, but Toronto fans will show them a good time on the solstice. Blue Hawaii will open.

Nadja (December 20, Geary Lane)

What have metal-gaze duo Nadja been up to since we interviewed them in Berlin? Knowing the prolific doomers, releasing countless albums and playing one 1000 shows around the world. Black Walls will open. Also don't miss Nadja's Aidan Baker at Ratio on Dec 11.

Stacey (December 20, Gladstone)

Be here if the cold weather puts you in the mood for folky singer-song writers riding out in an old, formerly sketchy hotel. Stacey, one of Toronto's most promising up and coming pop writers, will be joined by LUKA and and Day Wilson.

Offerings Compilation Release (December 30, Cinecycle)

The new compilation from free Offerings Magazine, Toronto's own version of Show Paper, is stacked with weirdos (full disc: I have a song on this comp where I skip radio stations for three minutes), as is this line up. Zacht Automaat, Zones, Doom Tickler, New Chance, Nick Storring and more will perform.

See also

The top 10 holiday concerts in Toronto for 2014

The top 5 dance parties in Toronto December 2014

What did I miss? Leave your must-see December concerts in the comments.

Photo of Austra by Brian Morton

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Little India used to look like in Toronto

toronto little india bazaarFrom the sidewalk on Gerrard between Greenwood and Coxwell, Toronto's Little India (officially the Gerrard India Bazaar) certainly seems to be living up to its name. South Asian restaurants like Lahore Tikka House and Udupi Palace populate the strip, as do authentic stores like Neelam Silk and Milans Saree Emporium. At night, the neighbourhood comes alive with street food vendors and toy salesmen, but change is in the air.

Little India is, according to reports, becoming less Indian. Increasing property prices and rents are driving the South Asian population, who arrived in the area following the second world war, into the suburbs. Many storefronts carry signs announcing impending closure and trendy coffee shops like Flying Pony and Lazy Daisy's Cafe are taking over vacant premises. Even the New York Times is taking note of the change.

Statistics now say the area has fewer immigrants than the Toronto average. Who knows if in 10 years the street signs will still reflect the prevailing demographic.

Here's a look back at Little India in its heyday.

toronto little india bazaarThese buildings are now gone (or perhaps heavily modified.) The brick building poking in the right side of the frame is currently home to Maharani Fashions.

toronto little india bazaarEat at Samraat Restaurant, it's the king of spades.

toronto little india bazaarShopping at Malton Sarees and Fabrics, now Rana Gems Inc..

toronto little india bazaarBusinessman in a turban strolling on the north side of Gerrard near Hiawatha Rd.

toronto little india bazaarClothes for sale near Moti Mahal restaurant.

toronto little india bazaarSarees, $16.95.

toronto little india bazaarLooking east from Sonu Saree Palace towards the Gerrard Ashdale Library and the Naaz Theatre, the first dedicated Bollywood theatre in North America.

toronto little india bazaarMore coverage of Sonu Saree Palace, which is presently in the process of closing down.

toronto little india bazaarThe Gerrard Ashdale Library

toronto little india bazaarKohinoor Foods on the northeast corner of Ashdale Ave.. It's still running with a (slightly) better sign.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: City of Toronto Archives

by Chris Bateman via blogTO