Day 231. More Celebrating

I seem to be having the birthday that keeps on giving, this year. Yesterday more friends invited me out, for brunch. They live pretty far outside of the city, in an area called Milton, but annexthey sweetly offered to come into Toronto. Like me, when it comes to food, they prefer simple and home made to shi shi.

So I suggested we meet at a cute neighbourhood restaurant, in an area called The Annex. The place, By The Way Cafe, is tiny. In the summer they open their terrace, which is huge, but we’re not there yet. They don’t take reservations for brunch, so there’s usually a line-up. But it never takes long to get a table.

The food is very vegetarian friendly, totally right for the neighbourhood. It’s all healthy, organic, tasty and reasonably priced. The wait staff are great and seem to really enjoy working there.

What more can you ask for?

This was my first time there for brunch. I’ve been for lunch, and also for dinner many times. I would definitely go back for the breakfast. Tons of variety. And delicious. All three of us were very happy with our meals. If you want to dawdle, however, this isn’t the place for you. It is understood patrons will choose, order, eat and leave in a reasonable amount of time.

No pressure on you. No one asks you to hurry. It is simply expected you have consideration for those, in line, who would also like to have breakfast. More than reasonable, don’t you think? And everyone respects it. They attract that kind of crowd.

The Annex is a really cool, interesting neighbourhood, so it’s worth a wander when you’re done eating.

Located downtown, because it borders the University of Toronto, it’s long been a student quarter. So you’ll find lots of fraternity and faculty housing. The area is mostly residential, and the streets tend to be one-way, lined with mature trees and Victorian and Edwardian homes and mansions, most of which are clad in brick. In the old days, The Annex was home to many of the city’s wealthiest citizens.

Today most of those homes have been divided into apartments. Although the world renowned, Canadian author, Margaret Atwood still lives there, as do Adrienne Clarkson (former Governor General of Canada) and her husband, John Ralston Saul.

There are some apartment buildings, but they are old and low-rise. I’ve never been in any of them, but I’ll bet they’re lovely, with high ceilings and interesting architectural details. The main street, Bloor, offers up just about everything, from discount retailers to hardware stores, used book and CD stores, groceries, a co-op food store, health food stores, second hand clothing boutiques, restaurants, pubs, bakeries and banks. And an art deco movie theatre, the Bloor Cinema, which is now a permanent home for documentary films.

There’s also a Jewish Community Centre and a lovely old Church that doubles as a local event venue. And while you can never seem to find a place to park your car, the locals tend to either walk or ride bicycles. So one can only assume the autos belong to visitors.

Ironically, this ‘green’, socially-conscious, left-leaning, not-interested-in-joining-the-rat-race, anti-establishment, do-unto-others, all-natural, organic, educated, tofu-loving, techie, nerdy, creative, bohemian enclave, is just a few blocks west of two of the city’s toniest areas: Yorkville and the part of Bloor Street where you’ll find the world’s most expensive designer boutiques.

But never the twain shall meet.

So if you do find yourself in Toronto, and you do decide to go to the Annex, leave your Birkin bag at home.

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16 thoughts on “Day 231. More Celebrating

  1. I can so see this being the scene of a story! 🙂 WOW. You had me at shi shi haha THERE sounds a lot like here in attitude and groove and in the retail/residential “mix” of the neighborhood. Almost like you were describing my town and lifestyle in a sense. Make this into some fiction would ya, I want to hear about some characters!

    • You’re right. It would make for an interesting ‘set’ for a story. GREAT people watching there. And definitely a quieter, gentler, piece of the planet than we are unfortunately getting used to these days. Like it’s been stuck in a time warp. If where you live is anything like this, it must be wonderful. Quite a change from New York, I’ll bet!

      • It’s very charming and aesthetically pleasing yes. Well you described it all very nicely. A couple of days ago I showed up for internet access at a crowded restaurant and sat at the bar and when a table opened up asked if I could sit there and they told me it was specifically for two people. Very nicely of course. And no problem the joint was jumping. You conveyed that very well among the other details so great time to have people start talking haa And I remember your short story is why I bring it up 🙂 And I’m a mischief maker!

      • :). A mischief maker, huh? It is so weird you Mentioned your experience at the crowded restaurant because something similar happened to us. When we arrived all the tables were occupied, but several had people at the coffee stage. We were the first group waiting for a table. A minute or two later another group if 3 showed up. We were chatting so I didn’t notice a table for 2 had opened up. Next thing I knew, a woman with her little boy, who had been sitting at a table for 4, were moving to the other table. So we could be seated. The server asked her if she would mind moving. In the almost 30 uears I have lived in this city, that was a first for me. That’s the kind of neighbourhood The Annex is. Sounds like there are similarities to where you live. Lucky, lucky you! Let’s both write some fiction!! 🙂

    • Thank you very much. I can’t believe how long this birthday is lasting. When the celebrations finally stop I expect to slip into a depression. I’ve enjoyed all the attention. Okay, enough about me. I very much appreciate the nomination. But as I have been saying, lately, I am taking some time off from awards. I hope you understand. And congratulations on YOUR nomination. Loyalty should be rewarded.

  2. Belated happy birthday, Fransi. It sounds like the celebrations have been mighty fine! (I’m waaaay behind in my blog reading … hoping to finally hit the “publish” button this week so have been completely self-absorbed! How about a celebratory libation at Starbucks in May?)

    • Can’t wait to read the book. You have been focussed and diligent, exactly what you had to be. Would love another afternoon at Starbucks once you’re home. Happy Easter!

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