by Stephen Johnson
Growing up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, eating fries with mayonnaise was considered exotic. As I grew older, I came to enjoy foods from all over the world. Fast forward to today and our son David’s favorite foods are sushi and pad thai. On a recent trip to Toronto, we were able to expand our culinary tastes even further.
Toronto may be one of the most multicultural city in the world. With that comes restaurants to suit almost every taste. We started off our day with a traditional but delicious breakfast at the Chelsea Hotel. Most of the day was spent wandering around Yonge Street and enjoying the energy of Dundas Square.
By early evening, our hunger had started to build. For supper, I had promised David a surprise. We were dining in the revolving CN Tower restaurant. As I am afraid of heights, my idea of dining does not normally include eating at 350 metres above ground. However, I must admit the view was spectacular. We were treated to a 360 degree perspective of the city as the restaurant slowly rotated. David made me somewhat nervous as he pressed his body against the glass. He also tried jumping on the floor just to test the durability but it seemed to hold up just fine.
Our food arrived and it was excellent. It took us considerably longer to eat as we were treated to landmarks like the Toronto Islands and the Skydome. Reservations for this restaurant also include access to the viewing deck, making them an excellent value.
After the outstanding food, we were ready to relax at our hotel. Lazing in the hottub while David zipped down the waterslide was the perfect antidote to big city life. He asked me a few times to have a go at the waterslide but my adventure quota had been filled for the day.
The following morning we decided to try out a different type of aquatic adventure. We signed up for the Pirate Life boat cruise. We were kitted up in pirate gear and hit the waters. The crew did an excellent job of animating the trip with song and story. The experience tends to appeal to younger children but there is still plenty to offer for all ages. I enjoyed the theatrics and also the wonderful view of harbourfront Toronto. I also enjoyed dressing up like Mick Jagger with all the scarves and regalia.
After the cruise, we wandered around downtown Toronto and slowly made our way back to the Chelsea Hotel. A short nap was in order.
For supper that evening, we wanted to check out the renovated Maple Leaf Tavern. Previously, the tavern did not exactly have a family-friendly reputation. Newly acquired in 2013, the tavern underwent extensive renovations with the goal to become a community hub serving excellent food. It delivered on all counts. Not to exaggerate but I think it was the best restaurant food I have ever eaten. (My wife Sandy’s cooking still takes top prize.) We started off with Caesar salads with homemade dressing. Sandy had a cheeseburger while I had the fish. To finish off, we had the sorbet. The atmosphere was upscale without being pretentious. Many families were enjoying a Saturday evening out together.
For our last day in Toronto, we naturally stuck with the food theme. In lieu of breakfast, we went on a food tour with Culinary Adventure Company. Affable owner Kevin Durkee and his chef-in-training daughter Taylor were our guides. Our first stop was Chinatown where we got to sample a number of different dim sum items. Kevin was great at providing us with background information about the food and location. A highlight for David was when we tried a new fruit from an outdoor vendor called Jackfruit. The fruit had a pungent smell but great taste.
After Chinatown, we headed over to the vibrant Kensington Market. Sandy, who is from Mexico, was happy to visit Torteria San Cosme where we had tortas (Mexican style sandwiches.) She gave it her seal of approval for being tasty and authentic. We finished our tour at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky for a slice of sour cherry pie (which is way more delicious than it sounds.) The food tour was a great way to discover out-of-the-way eateries we never would have tried while getting to know a few neighbourhoods better.
With bellies full and waistlines slightly expanded, we boarded our Via Train back to Ottawa thankful for the wide seats.
A great starting place for your next adventure in Toronto is www.seetorontonow.com We always like to stay at the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto for all the family perks like the corkscrew waterslide and kids games area. Visit, www.chelseatoronto.com.