Friday, 30 January 2009

JavaVille Report
For the past several weeks, the owner of 493 Parliament and his architect have been meeting people from Cabbagetown to hammer out an acceptable final design for the exterior of this building. They’ve met the Board from the BIA, members of the Don Vale Cabbagetown Residents Association, the Heritage District advisory committee, Board members from the CPA and several local architects. Local neighbours have also attended these meetings. Pam McConnell and her staff have been to each session.
At the same time, the owner’s request for variances on density and parking has been sent to the City’s Committee of Adjustment. City planners have come to these community meetings to assess the progress toward some degree of community approval.
What’s the result?
1) Go to this link to see cardboard models of the building in its actual site: Neighbourhood events.
2) Drawings and plans will be available for viewing at the BIA office, 237 Carlton Street.
3) The Committee of Adjustment will hear the owner’s request on Wednesday, February 4 at 10 am. You can get details about the address and about making a presentation from Sean McIntyre (Pam McConnell’s office) at 416-392-0207.
4) A second set of approvals must also happen: with the site plan. If you have comments or you want to support or oppose the design, ask Sean McIntyre about the procedure for this.

Up Until Now at the Toronto Dance Theatre. Postmodern choreographer Deborah Hay was part of New York’s seminal Judson Dance Theatre. Her new work, Up Until Now, is being staged at TDT because of her friendship with Christopher House, TDT’s artistic director. Toronto Life says “a new work by the American is of great importance.” January 29 to February 7, 8 pm, 80 Winchester St. For ticket information, call (416) 967-1365.

Early Valentine’s Report
We’re putting together a list of special events for this special evening. Cabbagetown will, as usual, be abuzz with love. Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year which means that our restaurants are planning special menus. You’ll also be able to sleep off the excesses on Sunday morning. Watch this space next week for the listings and watch your mailbox for our brochure.

Book Launch at Big Mamma’s Boy
Saturday, January 31 from 5 to 7 pm. Lulu Taylor appears at Big Mamma’s Boy to promote her new book, Stop The Mama’s Boys. 554 Parliament.

The Epicure Shop Saturday’s special is Kicking Horse Coffee at $12.99, a savings of $2 a pound. On Saturday as well, there’s a tasting of Epicure’s own homemade pasta sauce – for a quick easy dinner, just add pasta, a baguette, some salad and you’re ready. The Quebec cheeses are still available (7 year raw milk cheddar, Riopelle and La Sauvigne) along with Quebec farm pates. 473 Parliament.

St Jamestown Steak & Chops – Norma’s Edible Flowers and Herbs Mark Michelin reports that this new linen of goodies is attracting lots of attention. The ingredients for these condiments, jellies and dressings are grown in Norma’s own garden in Orono. Mark has also just introduced organic whole chickens to add to his line of organic salmon. 516 Parliament

VIP Treatment at Del Ray Cleaners Del Ray Cleaners (586 Parliament) have just brought in a 24-hour drop box service at their front door. You can put your clothes into a special bag, deposit it into the locked box at any time and retrieve it within two days. They give you two bags and the access code when you join. Members are also entitled to a 25% discount on all cleaning in February. A one-time fee of $25 covers admin costs for your membership.
Phyllis Kwan also let me know that February is their customer appreciation time and they’re extending a 10% discount to all customers.
It’s no wonder that people keep coming here even when they move away. People from the Annex, Ajax and Milton still rely on their good service.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Couch Toboggan, Chapter 2
Last week, we introduced the amazing downhill couch toboggan that had appeared on Riverdale Park hill. A few readers didn’t know (or believe) what we were talking about. So, for a good laugh and proof positive, here’s a one-minute video supplied by the racers themselves:
You gotta love Cabbagetown.

Introducing Kidist Designs Kidist Paulos Asrat is an associate member of the BIA and a freelance website designer with a background in graphic design, photography and new media certification from Ryerson. She’s built a number of different websites for non-profit groups, individuals and businesses.
She’s offering an introductory half-hour free consultation by phone or email to plan your needs and your future website.
Her own website is very straight forward and lists several good savings on her services: a January special with 15% discounts on her packages and a sale offering buy-one, get-one-free on her services. For Cabbagetown businesses, she also has a $50 bonus payable toward any of her services.
Telephone (416) 939-0585. Her website is at

Our new art gallery Gordon Daniels Gallery has opened at 460 Parliament (on the upper level above the House on Parliament) and the first show is scheduled for January 30 to February 15.
Duotoned features photographs by Sai Sivanesan. It opens January 29 at 7:30 pm. For more information, please contact the show administrator, Christina Butty at (416) 728-8728.

The Epicure Shop
Patty Junior reports that she’s developed a good relationship with a supplier who provides very high quality Quebec farmhouse cheeses. So she’s offering a seven-year old raw milk Quebec cheddar on special. Also from Quebec, she has a new line of pates that she says are really lovely: wild boar, duck with pistachio and peppercorn pates. This will all go well with her spinach dip (still on sale), buy one and get one free.

Winterlicious at Provence Delices Provence Delices (12 Amelia) is another new associate member of the BIA. Elie Benchitrit has just joined and we’re listing his menus and special events on one of our Cabbagetown Eats newsletters.
He’s got two great specials for us…
If you’re losing money and the recession is killing you and your spouse has stomped out the door in disgust and not even the dog will look at you – drop into Provence for a $2 Recession martini. I taste-tested two of them last Friday and can verify that they’re the real thing.
Provence is also Cabbagetown’s representative in the annual Winterlicious festival running from January 30 to February 12. Lunch (noon to 2 pm) is $20 prix fixe and dinner (6 to 10 pm) is $35 prix fixe. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday (noon to 2:30 pm) is $20.
Reservations are recommended, especially in Winterlicious. Call (416) 924-9901.
For menus, photos and prices, click here: Provence Delices

Is your cat stuck to the rug? Is your dog tap dancing across the floor? Pet Valu (240 Carlton) has a monthly nail clipping service to solve your problems. Marilyn Wilputte from Diggity Dog Walking visits on the first Saturday of each month. Saturday, February 7 from 11 am to 4 pm is her next stop. $10.

After that, head for a wash... At Menagerie Pet Shop (549 Parliament), the do-it-yourself dog wash is half-price until March 1. There’s also a range of Wellness pet foods, cat scratch equipment and other goodies on sale at great discounts. You can also visit here just to say hello to a fish or a parrot. Browsers welcome.

Renaissance Yoga “Implementing Ayurvedic Lifestyle” is Renaissance Yoga’s signature introductory course in Ayurvedic theory and practice. The first session starts on Thursday January 22 and runs for twelve weeks from 9 to 11:30 am. It’s also available remotely in mp3 form, with full lecture notes and email support.
“Ayurveda and Sexual Wholeness” starts Friday February 13 (6:30 to 9 pm) for 12 weeks.
For full details and fees, click on
While there, check the Winter/Spring schedule, especially for information about Kim Schwartz’s visit and his workshop on “Outer Body, Inner Body, Subtle Body.” Friday February 20, Saturday February 21 and Sunday February 22.
Renaissance Yoga (391 Ontario), 416-920-4520

The Year of the Ox For the coming week of January 24 to 29, Stonegrill on Winchester is celebrating the Chinese New Year with a special menu. The $40 prix fixe dinner has been specially prepared by chef Erin Martin for the celebrations.
Check the details here: Stonegrill on Winchester.

Coffee Wars Starbucks has taken the keys from the building owner and is starting to build its new store on the first floor at Aberdeen and Parliament. Estimates are that the first coffees will flow in mid-March.
Coffee Time on the northeast corner of Winchester and Parliament has reopened. The interior walls around the old smoking cubicle have been removed. It’s now a corporate store and the chain is accepting applications from anyone interested in buying a franchise here.
Meantime, bloggers across the internet continue to sing the praises of Jet Fuel (519 Parliament)and all its eccentricities.

Superbowl, February 1
The teams can be seen, heard and toasted at Ben Wicks (424 Parliament) and Brass Taps (221 Carlton). Click on the links for details.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Watch for it…
The Amazing Couch Toboggan

It’s been seen on two separate nights on the steep hill in Riverdale Park. It’s a two-seater couch with skis nailed to the bottom, a plank nailed between the skis behind the couch, arm rests hollowed out and headlights installed inside them. Six people careen down the hill – two on the seat and four standing on the board behind them. It goes very fast. It also looks insane. When asked what the first trip down the hill was like, one rider confessed that “it felt like a deathtrap.”

What would Robbie Burns think about this sleigh?
Ask him yourself on Robbie Burns Day, Sunday, January 25. You have your choice – The Ben Wicks (424 Parliament) always has a piper, a haggis and lots of scotch. So does the House on Parliament (456 Parliament). Check out both of them and see what haggis, neeps and tatties really are.

Peartree’s specials at 1994 prices Peartree's solarium
For fifteen years, Asokan and Ilango have given Cabbagetown diners reliable meals at very affordable prices. This comfortable spot has become a permanent favourite for us. To celebrate their 15th year, they’re offering two specials at 1994 prices: New York sirloin steak at $12.99 and grilled Atlantic salmon at $11.99. Their celebration continues until February 28. 507 Parliament, (416) 962-8190. Click here:

Another tasting at JAMCafe JAMCafe (195 Carlton) is launching its 2009 wine tasting series with a special evening highlighting Edward Sellers’ Rhone-style wines. Chef Av Atikian has prepared a five-course menu to match with the wines. Since only forty tickets will be sold, reservations are important. Please call (416) 921-1255. $85 per person (not including tax and gratuities.) For all the details on food and wines, click here:

Mark your calendar
Brass Taps
Superbowl 43 (or is that Superbowl XLIII?), Sunday, February 1. Kick off about 6 pm.
Brass Taps (221 Carlton) has prizes, pools and lots of partying. Ben Wicks (424 Parliament) has a 42” plasma TV, extra televisions around the room, chili, hot dogs and good cold beer.
No doubt, there’ll be more and we’ll update you as game time approaches. Click here: and

Cranberries opens Room 601 Cranberries chef - Siva

Those of us who frequent the Wellesley & Parliament area have long enjoyed Cranberries ambiance and good food. Siva, the chef, offers both pub fare and fine dining. You can get fish and chips or you can feast on chicken breasts stuffed with enokitake mushrooms. It must be the chef’s school in Paris where he studied. So now, they’ve expanded into a room next door and they’ve prepared a special menu for each evening to February 13. Click here: (603 Parliament)

Meet the author at Big Mamma’s Boy
Big Mamma's Boy
Saturday, January 31, 5 to 7 pm. Ah yes, another step upward toward the literature hall of fame. This time, Cabbagetown welcomes Lulu Taylor to Big Mamma’s Boy (554 Parliament) to do a reading and to meet her fans. Ms Taylor, from Los Angeles, is the author of “Stop the Mama’s Boys”, a moving story of a young woman caught between a mother and her son. You can catch the full story line at Big Mamma’s Boy website,

The Epicure Shop

Epicure Shop
Good savings this weekend for all salad lovers. When you buy a container of potato salad, cole slaw or macaroni salad, you’ll receive another one free. Patty is offering the same deal with her renowned spinach dip – buy one and get a second one free. And a reminder: on Friday and Saturday, you can pick up Brick Street breads – all natural and organic. (And when you’re in the store, ask Patty why she wants us to use this photo of her building instead of the lovely one that shows her at her bubbly best. Ah well.) 473 Parliament.

Carlton & Parliament
Ever since the plans for the reconstruction of the old JavaVille site were unveiled, we’ve been getting a lot of comments from residents about the exterior design. The BIA has taken the initiative with neighbourhood consultations. This week, for example, the building architect met three Cabbagetown architects and planners to go over these reactions, to look at the proposed design and to figure out how to accommodate these different views. The building owner, George Foulides, has also discussed his plans with the heritage advisory group and they’ve agreed that the demolition of the current building is a reasonable option.
Whenever a project like this comes along, there are three options: restoration of the existing building, or demolition with a new construction using a Victorian emphasis, or demolition with a new construction that has a contemporary exterior.
JavaVille is a 1920s wood frame building with a rotting interior. George Foulides found that restoring it would be a prohibitively expensive undertaking. The three architects who met last Tuesday agreed. It is their view that the cost is too high, especially for a building that lacks any real design features that make it historically memorable.
So why not rebuild a replica in a Victorian style to mirror the nature of nearby houses? This approach has been discouraged consistently by heritage advocates. Victorian replicas have not worked elsewhere because they’re false imitations.
That leaves the third option. A building that has a contemporary quality but is not jarring or out of place in its context. Its size, brickwork, windows and doorways, and other exterior features will be appropriate to its location and its neighbours.
This is the choice that George Foulides is now pursuing and this consultative approach is the process that resulted in the pleasant new building at the corner of Aberdeen and Parliament.

Next week, another round of meetings will happen. We’ll keep you up-to-date.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Tiffany is going to Guatemala

Tiffany Smith has volunteered to work on a Habitat for Humanity project in Guatemala later in January. She’ll be building homes for people in need as part of a team in the Global Village program.
She has to cover her trip costs and she’s holding a party to pay for her expenses. It’s at the Ben Wicks (424 Parliament) on Saturday, January 10 from 8 pm to closing. Michael McGaraughty is the host and DJ Ze H is providing the tunes. Special guest performers include “Go Freddy Go” of Cabbagetown Festival fame. There’ll be a silent auction and a raffle with special artwork, Raptors tickets, yoga apparel and lessons, gift certificates at the Stonegrill on Winchester, tarot readings and a lot more.
Another wine tasting at JAMCafe
JAMCafe’s first tasting meal of 2009 is happening on Thursday, January 22.
A five-course meal will match tiger shrimp, seafood and spinach terrine, porcini mushroom soufflé, elk bourguignon and seared Muscovy duck breast with five Rhone style wines from Edward Sellers California vineyards.
This will be an exceptional evening. Chef Av Atikian is welcoming the vineyard owner, Edward Sellers, to introduce his wines and talk about the wine and food pairings.
Tickets are on sale, only forty are available. $85 per person plus tax and gratuity. Please call for a reservation: (416) 921-1255. 195 Carlton Street.
The Epicure Shop loves Quebec
Patty Junior has three new Quebec cheeses for your enjoyment: 7- and 10-year old cheddars and Chevre Noit. To help these go down smoothly, pick up a few Montreal bagels with your purchases. She also now has organic Brick Street breads. Finally, to carry it all away, her line of Italian ceramics is on sale at 50% off.
Welcome to Cabbagetown
Edward Jones, the full service investment and brokerage firm, is setting up in Cabbagetown. Our local office will be run by Bryan Grundmann who brings over 20 years’ experience as a financial advisor to his role with us. At the moment, the company is sizing up properties around Cabbagetown for their office requirements and should have a location soon. The new tax-free savings accounts are attracting lots of attention and Bryan can take you through the steps with these accounts. He can be reached at (416) 846-3414.
And welcome back to Cabbagetown
Sri is back. Sri Paramanathan is a familiar and welcome face at our CIBC branch (245 Carlton) and he’s returned here as manager on January 5 after a stint at Queen and Spadina.
Carlton and Parliament Update
This week, the site owner, George Foulides, submitted a request to the city’s Committee of Adjustment for two minor variances on the proposal for a new office building at Carlton and Parliament. First, he asked for greater density to support office space on the second and third floors. Second, he wanted forgiveness on two parking spaces (the current building has this provision and George wants to continue it.)
George Rust D’Eye from the heritage district advisory committee opposed the demolition of the current building.
(We’ve got a lot of Georges on this project.)
When the Committee learned that there is a community disagreement, they deferred their hearing and decision to a future date. This matter could be resumed at any time within the next ninety days. The redevelopment on the site has, therefore, stopped.
In the meantime, everyone is busy trying to fix the problem. George Foulides will be consulting with the heritage group. The architects for the new proposal are talking to local architects in order to draft a better exterior façade. Public meetings will be held after these two events. Final proposals will then be displayed in the BIA office for everyone to inspect.
Stay tuned.
Reviews and links
Who can complain about all the great publicity that we’ve been getting? Our community and our restaurants have been the focus of full length newspaper stories and rave reviews. Here’s a quick rundown along with links to the online stories.
The National Post started it all with an article by Guiseppe Valiante about the redevelopment of Parliament Street. It’s a thoughtful article about the balance between conservation and change.
In The Toronto Star, Noah Richler then gave us an easy-going guide to ten of his favourite Cabbagetown spots.

Omi and Gourmet Burger really caught a lot of attention over the holidays.
Omi (241 Carlton) scored big twice with Joanne Kates’ reviews in the Globe & Mail. First she gave us a full review under the heading, “Sushi lovers rejoice, Omi is back”:
and then she listed Omi as one of her top-ten selections for 2009:

Gourmet Burger (482 Parliament) had its share of the limelight as well.

NOW Magazine’s Steve Davey (and several readers) gave it a top-ranking four-N rating.
And on, they were called “scenes stealing” and the “finest specimen on this or any other continent.”
There were more stories, but we’ve lost track. What a pleasure.

We agree wholeheartedly with Noah Richler that “the jumbled character of Parliament Street, Cabbagetown’s untidy thoroughfare, would have suited Jane Jacobs ... Cabbagetown is not a perfect neighbourhood … Still, it is stocked with personality.” And we’re very pleased when other people see and enjoy us as we are.
(Photo Colin O'Connor, Toronto Star)