We’re getting on our soap box to laud the bold and the beautiful eateries and bars that grace this country. Is your favourite on the list?
1. Leña: Toronto
Hello, drama queen! With its delicious deco bones and gorgeous flourishes, including a swooping light fixture, Toronto’s DesignAgency has done a beautiful job festooning Oliver & Bonacini’s Lena inside Saks Fifth Avenue. The cocktail-imbibing area of the resto, Bar Lala (seen here), also features marble and brass finishes, tiles that look centuries old (in the best way), a casual art wall and mega-high ceilings. We can eat the Argentinean fare all day in this space.
2. Torteria San Cosme: Toronto
Fun, vivid and inviting, Torteria San Cosme, a Mexican sandwich shop in Toronto’s eclectic Kensington Market, was designed by architecture firm tongtong. The 700-square-foot eatery is a souped-up version of a Mexican street stall, complete with a long counter filled with enticing eats and a really cool awning (see next slide). One grilled nopales sandwich, please!
2. Heads Up at Torteria San Cosme
Here’s that awning we were gabbing about in the previous slide. Colourful strips make up the cantilevered structure. Very cool.
3. Oretta: Toronto
Pastels, golds and glorious rib-vault ceilings give Oretta, the Italian resto on the ground floor of the Thompson Residences, its good looks. The work of Commute Design, it’s impossible to decide what we like best about this space (besides the food): it’s a toss up between the spunky herringbone floors and the repeated arched details, in the roof trusses and the pretty panelling.
3. Oretta’s Swoon-Worthy Staircase
How perfect is this snippet of gold staircase against the inky-black patina wall? And those pink booths are divine.
4. Fogo Island Inn: Newfoundland
Tangled lights tease from the 48-foot-high vaulted ceilings in this breathtaking dining room with unvarnished views of the Atlantic Ocean. (You might even be lucky to see a whale over dinner.) The room’s distinctive chandeliers were conceived by Dutch designer Frank Tjepkema and feature a wildflower motif.
5. Pigeonhole: Calgary
Oui, we’d spend the afternoon over cocktails in this magnificent space designed by Calgary’s Frank Architecture and Interiors. Fashioned after a Parisian wine bar and cafe, the space boasts salvaged and reclaimed materials to bridge the old and the new. The tin ceiling and marble countertops, along with the proximity to the open kitchen, create a bustling yet intimate feel.
6. Torafuku: Vancouver
The adage less is more is writ large in this raw, sexy space by Scott & Scott Architects. Actually, though it is utilitarian, the pan-Asian restaurant has subtle details that show the fastidious nature of the design beneath the surface. The industrial linear looker of an LED light, for instance, was customized by the husband-and-wife architects. The communal concrete table has a stately presence. And those cork stools by Milan’s Discipline are made by Lars Beller Fjetland.
6. The Raw Power at Torafuku
Art gallery or modern Asian eatery? You be the judge. The fuzzy grey batting and denim cotton wool quilted panels absorb sound, so the acoustics are nice. The stitched booths recall horse saddles.
7. Datsun: Ottawa
This former nightclub in Ottawa was conceived by Linebox Studio, but its bones were retained, such as the concrete columns, sandblasted to reveal their original beauty. Open ductwork imparts a factory feel, while pale birch furnishings titillate lovers of modern Scandinavian interiors. The ethereal clustered chandelier is by Montreal lighting designer Pierre Lachance.
8. Hoogan et Beaufort: Montreal
An interplay of dark and light informs the interior of Appareil Architecture’s Hoogan et Beaufort. Located in an old train factory, the design team retained its heritage feel preserving the brick walls, the exposed beams and the rails on the ceiling. Steel, wood and concrete harmonize perfectly with the restaurant’s spirit, say the designers. Note how the bottles of wine tease from the open wall of shelving.
8. Check Out the Table Base at Hoogan et Beaufort
Here’s a zoom-in of a beautifully raw filing cabinet that was salvaged from the old train factory that once stood here. And we’re crushing on the faceted pendant lights.
9. Battuto: Quebec City
At the minimalist Battuto, a bewitching bitch bar counter, marble tables, mini tiles and barely there (but so there) brass lighting fixtures are the stunning work of Appareil Architecture (we love this firm)!
10. Native Tongues: Calgary
Raw wood banquettes against a patchy cloud-like wall and patio-style lighting create a rustic cantina vibe that makes you want to be naughty and skip work for the afternoon at this modern taqueria by Amanda Hamilton Interior Design. Nice touch on the unpretentious, sporadic artwork wall.
11. Cafe Cancan: Toronto
This darling French bistro, located in the old Harbord Room space, feels fresh and fun. Naturally, it’s the work of HGTV’s Tiffany Pratt – the designer’s fetish for pink is on show alright. “I wanted the space to feel like you were walking into a decadent macaron in the kind of shades you might expect to see or eat,” says Pratt. Fait accompli.
11. Cafe Cancan is Pretty in Pink
Here’s an overall look at the space. Notice the details: the gold table bases, wooden chair legs, two-toned turquoise banquette and waffled ceiling. We dig it. Victor Barry, chef of nearby Piano Piano, and Nikki Leigh McKean, are the owners behind the pastel enterprise.
11. Cafe Cancan’s Flower Power
Flowers are on the backs of the stools and behind the bar, so you can get blissfully tipsy while admiring the roses.