The last time I enjoyed the brisk bright nightlife district in Toronto, I was writing a story for Washington Flyer, an airport customer magazine.
On this recent trip, my visit overlapped the opening week of TIFF — Toronto International Film Festival — a bit like Cannes without the huff and Hollywood.
We join the ecelictic mix of late night party mammals at the top of Mr. Trump‘s hotel where the cocktail napkins are emblazoned with a large $ symbol. The barman was studying for an exam, we guessed, since he was slow to loosen up and was consulting a book.
In the elevator going down, the vapid girl-star from the vampire flicks was nosing her thumbs into a crack berry while an assistant in a too-tight denim jacket worked media appointments on her mobile. The big ‘ole body guard was Russian, Serb or Tra-jikastan.
Over at Four Seasons bar, the vibe was easier, but we didn’t like seeing the drink maker fish olives from the jar with his fingers. Please!
In front of TIFF headquarters, people with and without tickets milled around in amoebic clumps, seeing and being the scene. On another day I went to Queen St. East (way East) to Jac Flash to buy poppy strewn skinny jeans.
At KitKat/Club Lucky the mood is casual and off-hand chic. Downstairs is a familiar bar; upstairs explosed brick walls, red check table cloths, cigars and single malt. A tuxedo-wearing tenor from the London cast of Phantom might serenade the birthday girl at his table to exhuberant applause from the whole room gets into the act. The scene for cigars and single malt.
The Old Front St. neighborhood of downtown Toronto centers on St. Lawrence Market. The two buildings — one 19th century, one modern — are crammed with food vendors, purveyors of gourmet bottled goods and the foodie crowd angling in for a free taste. Back in the day the market was a lot more earthy and real with Italian sons of butchers hollering out to visitors, ‘buy our sausage, not from the next guy’.
Approach the Cathedral Church of St. James, 106 King St. E. from the south through the Market Square courtyard and sculpture garden for a memorable prospect of the 306 foot tower and spire, the tallest in North America after St. Patrick’s in New York City.
End the day at the ornate, opulent and sensually engaging Winter Garden. It’s all that a theatre should be. Colored lights hang from the ceiling, real and artificial branches suspended on high create the effect of stepping into a midsummer’s night dream extending from the stage to the back of the house. I saw the interior of this theatre with a CBC radio reporter back in the day when dedicated preservation groups worked to save it from the developer’s wrecking ball. So glad it was saved.