Entertainment & Activities, Venues

Star Blessed

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is in full swing with 10 whirlwind days of celebrity-studded movie premieres, stars-about-town sightings, exclusive soirées and wild after-parties.

Take note of the following TIFF party hot spots with the red-carpet chops and superstar cachet for your next event:

Celebrity Epicentre

The TIFF Lounge is a busy place at festival timeThe TIFF Lounge is a busy place at festival time

Where: The TIFF Bell Lightbox is ground zero to the festival’s organizers, film screenings, daily press conferences and marquee names.

Scene Setting: During TIFF, the multi-storey facility at the corner of King and John is a beehive of activity. This year, a four-day street closure turned the area into a giant block party with live music and events. Inside, non-stop action of screenings, live chats and press conferences pack its five on-site theatres, while pre- and post-film libations flow freely in the TIFF Lounge. Luma, the second-floor restaurant with private and semi-private dining, and Malaparte, the rooftop terrace and event space, are also on full-time festival duty. Street-level Canteen is an ideal grab-and-go for hungry cinephiles and celebrities alike.

A-list Appearances: Al Pacino kicked off the festival’s star sightings as TIFF’s opening night gala guest of honour.


Call It A Trump

America Restaurant at the Trump HotelAmerica Restaurant at the Trump Hotel

Where: Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, what was once Stock Restaurant is now America Restaurant.

Scene Setting: A one-week pre-TIFF makeover transformed the former over-embellished, staid restaurant into a swank high-end supper club seating 110. The overhaul is the collaboration of new restaurant management: INK Entertainment and Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants. Velvety two-seater settees, fabric-covered walls and oversized custom artwork now adorn the restaurant with its 31st-floor skyline view. Mood lighting is courtesy of a new colour-changing LED system.

A-list Appearances: Kate Beckinsale, Chris Evans and Dustin Hoffman are among the luminaries spotted at America’s many star-studded cast parties and events.


A Members-only Enclave

The Pantry Bar at Soho House TorontoThe Pantry Bar at Soho House Toronto

Where: Soho House Toronto at Adelaide and Simcoe, is the local outpost of the London-based private members’ club for creative types around the world and the in-spot for TIFF’s Grey Goose sponsor parties.

Scene Setting: Located in a restored circa-1800s heritage building, the former site of one of the city’s first hotels. The multi-level space is designed as a classy but comfy home-away-from-home enclave filled with curated art and crowned with a rooftop terrace-fireplace lounge. Cushy chairs and rich woodwork style the main floor with an intimate club room, library lounge and bars. Main dining is on two including an upscale-rustic, star-worthy nibblies-stocked, farmhouse-style eat-in pantry bar. A level up is the Pretzel Bell Bar with seating for 40 and non-member event rental availability.

A-list Appearances: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Stewart and Ben Stiller are among the celebrities who beeline towards the exclusive invite-only haven.


Hip Resto-lounge

Brassaii Restaurant and Lounge is a celebrity magnetBrassaii Restaurant and Lounge is a celebrity magnet

Where: Brassaii Restaurant and Lounge is a King West District staple and homebase for this year’s Hollywood Reporter Lounge.

Scene Setting: A gated cobblestone walkway off King makes for grand entrances. Pitstop in the courtyard where the patio is lounge-ready with two bars, private deck, a gas wall fireplace and room for over 300. Inside, the airy, windowed dining room, seating over 150, embraces its industrial architecture with white-washed brick and pillars. Adjacent is bar and lounge, perfect for cocktail sipping while watching the famous slip into the VIP privacy of the Library, seating up to 88 guests, and The Study, ideal for intimate events for up to 35.

A-list Appearances: Richard Gere, James Franco and Kristen Wiig are just a few of the stars popping in and out for their industry boldface.


A New Must-see

Movie images and film memorabilia make the scene at the new Montecito RestaurantMovie images and film memorabilia make the scene at the new Montecito Restaurant

Where: A stone’s throw from TIFF’s Bell Lightbox, the Montecito Restaurant is a partnership made in Hollywood between film director Ivan Reitman and celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman.

Scene Setting: The sprawling two-storey, 280-seat space is dressed in sophisticated earth tones. A glassed-in mezzanine overlooks the main floor where Reitman’s personal collection of movie stills presides over the dining room. Arched digital screen windows play looped video of scenery he shot at his Montecito, Calif. home. Flower-patterned pillars grace the ground and second-level bars. There’s also a private dining lounge. Seat VIPs at the trio of chef’s tables in front of the open kitchen. A street-level patio seats 60.

A-list Appearances: Bill Murray has repeatedly been haunting his Ghostbusters director’s new domain.


Off The Beaten Track

Hudson Kitchen is a neighbourhood spot with celebrity fansHudson Kitchen is a neighbourhood spot with celebrity fans

Where: Hudson Kitchen, a neighbourhood-hip restaurant in Little Portugal’s Dundas Street West corridor with a big celebrity fanbase.

Scene Setting: A large 70-seat resto offering sophisticated eats and the boho ambiance of exposed walls, tin ceiling, rustic distressed floors and quirky accents such as a wall of framed culinary illustrations. Three separate dining areas include a private cellar room seating 12. A 45-seat patio fronts the street. Inventive dishes are driven by the season, and flare bartending conjures up seriously creative cocktails. Get in on kitchen action with an eight-seat chef’s table.

A-list Appearances: Chances are good that Jennifer Aniston, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender may revisit one of their favourite dining go-tos of TIFF 2013.