After two seemingly endless years of road demolition and reconstruction, Roncesvalles Avenue emerges revitalized, dazzling with landscaped, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and a slew of new eateries and businesses drawing mega attention to the High Park neighbourhood.
With roots still strongly steeped in Polish community, Roncesvalles Village – or “Roncys” as residents prefer — is a prime destination for event hosting, especially for dine-arounds of its well-established go-tos and welcome newcomers.
TSEvents e-news takes a look:
Open a mere three months, The Westerly is already drawing critical acclaim for its comfort with a French twist menu in a chill-out setting that plumbs West Coast energy with distinct Parisian overtones. Antique brass chandeliers above the marble-topped bar are uniquely striking against white subway tile walls and exposed piping. In the back, vintage liquor poster art and red, black and dark wood decor give a 50-seat private dining room a distinctive bistro feel. The restaurant is available for buy-out with a capacity of 95 seated.
At one of Roncys’s newest, Pizzeria Defina, event groups can order up custom-themed pizzas, fresh from the wood-burning stove, and pass around sharing plates piled high with tasty bites such as bacon-wrapped dates. Seating 40, the resto is laidback cozy with exposed white brick, wide-plank wooden floors and local art on the walls. Shelves of preserves and foodie accents make for a comfortable cucina feel.
Above Pizzeria Defina, a separate 1,000 sq. ft. open concept loft works as an art gallery-cum-event space — official name pending. With a west sun exposure warming honey-wood floors and glinting off a vintage hand-blown Italian glass chandelier, the multi-use venue delivers privacy for events from dinner soirées (there’s an onsite kitchen) to product launches. Floor LEDs uplight drama onto walls and a walk-out deck handles overspill. Total capacity: 75 reception-style
A little bit Art Deco, a little bit art house theatre equals a whole lot of vibe going on at the 230-seat Revue Cinema. Celebrating its centennial year, the theatre’s funky gold and purple lobby boasts an old-time ticket booth and snack bar, perfect for cocktail service. Conversion from 35 mm films to digital is set for summer, however, its high-resolution video projector is capable of DVD, Blue Ray and laptop plug ins. Expand the front-of-screen stage for live presentations or food tables — the cinema has a knack for pairing local chefs’ nosh with film themes.
With walls filled with huge cookbook jacket posters and mirrors, blue-grey-black checkered linoleum on the floor, white cloths on the tables, and bison meatloaf in the sleek, open kitchen, Blue Plate definitely takes comfort food up a notch. It’s all about homey-chic in this 50-seat eatery with towering ceilings, globe-shaped drop lighting and a cute-as-a-button patio seating 20. Clear out tables for great mingling space. With only the bar top separating the kitchen, roll up sleeves for teambuilding cooking with Chef Julia Young.
High Park Club
Get your granite on at the High Park Club where groups can toss, slide and sweep their way to bonspiel victory at one of the city’s oldest curling clubs. A lovely heritage building tucked just off Roncesvalles Avenue on a leafy residential street, the club houses five sheets of curling ice and two charming banquet halls, upstairs and downstairs. Seating 70 and 110 respectively, each has a west-facing verandah terrace overlooking the club’s lawn tennis courts. Curling-hospitality packages are available from September to mid-May and include instruction.
A source for imaginative, eco-friendly florals and centrepieces, local, seasonal whenever possible, and unique gifts and décor, Sweetpea’s is aesthetically inspiring. The shop’s rustic interior is stunning with reclaimed barn board fixtures, vintage accents and creative vignettes of blooms and goods. It’s also available for special event use says owner Sara Jameson, a former planner herself. Long work counters make ready-made food and beverage stations. Out back, a delightful garden centre can be tented for outdoor use. Total shop capacity: 70 people.
Small plates and an impressive, ever-changing wine list by the glass are the focus of Fat Cat Wine Bar, a sister establishment of chef-owner Mathew Sutherland’s uptown bistro of the same name. Available for private events, the stylish contemporary resto shines as a reception space for up to 80 people. Engage the sommelier for lively wine tastings. Order up a customized sit-down menu, or go with passed plates or food tables. The back garden – named a top-five patio fave by media – offers a shaded oasis for summer gatherings of up to 40.
A local gem since 1989, Gate 403 is one of the city’s few remaining spots for jazz and blues—two bands daily in fact! Large sliding windows open up on the front of house with its bustling bar, ornate tin ceiling and eclectic flourishes. A perfectly angled wall mirror above the musician’s nook lovingly reflects the grand piano’s keyboard action. Head through a brick archway into the 40-seat dining room with its jazzy, colour-popping mural and art-filled, textured walls. Customize menus or go with platters on the tables for casual family-style sharing.
Located on the main level of a century-old warehouse a stone’s throw from Roncesvalles Avenue, Gallery 345 acts as the neighbourhood’s “salon,” hosting everything from art shows to fundraisers to book readings. Musical performances are a mainstay with two gorgeous grand pianos onsite. The L-shaped gallery is simple, with a 12-ft. ceiling of exposed piping and Douglas Fir beams, sandblasted to a golden patina. A prep kitchen handles food service, and a 400 sq. ft. patio looks onto the tennis courts in the adjacent Sorauren Park. Total capacity: 120 seated.