Like a well-maintained Real Housewife, Yorkville is a beauty that refuses to age – though she’s not averse to a few nips and tucks. The just-opened flagship Four Seasons Toronto has given the area some fresh sparkle, and at its Café Boulud, the pop-art-meets-street-art portraits of Paris-born Mr. Brainwash add a layer of hipster punch to celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s latest venture.
More Than a Sexy Face
Loosely surrounding Bloor Street’s Mink Mile, where Chanel, Prada and Hermès jostle for space, Yorkville (exit Bay subway station) is a flashy fusion of pricy condos, cafes, sleek boutiques and appealing (though fast disappearing) Victorian row houses. Underneath its Euro-chic sheen, however, it’s a living breathing village and the place I call home – which just goes to show that paupers can live here, too.
You wouldn’t know it today, but Yorkville was hippie central in the 60s, and rising stars such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young crooned their way through the area’s groovy venues. Look for the plaque outside the Hazelton Hotel (118 Yorkville Avenue) that commemorates the site of the legendary Riverboat coffeehouse.
Yes! You Can Eat in Yorkville for Under a Million Dollars
Pusateri’s (57 Yorkville Avenue has a gourmet deli, as does Whole Foods in the swanky Hazelton Mall. The Sushi Inn (120 Cumberland Street) is always hopping, and my regular breakfast haunt, the time-warped Avenue Diner, is steps outside the neighbourhood at 222 Davenport. At the splurge end of the scale, both Sassafraz (100 Cumberland Street) and ONE in the Hazelton Hotel are major celebrity haunts during the Toronto International Film Festival.
In warm weather Hemingway's (142 Cumberland Street) patios are fun and lively while the 18th floor Roof Lounge in the Park Hyatt Toronto (4 Avenue Road) is unbeatable for old-world sophistication and a stellar skyline view.
For me, walking down ‘Gallery Row’ on Hazelton Avenue is a virtual family reunion. My sister, artist Catherine Perehudoff, exhibits at Gevik Gallery and my mother, landscape painter Dorothy Knowles, at Miriam Shiell Fine Art. Discover top Inuit artists at Feheley Fine Arts, and don’t miss the venerable Mira Godard Gallery, easily recognizable by the life-like bronze bull out front. Sculpted by beloved Canadian artist, Joe Fafard, it’s so realistic you might see a Yorkie-poo or other designer dog yapping furiously in its direction, much to the embarrassment of the pup’s Gucci-clad owner.
Yorkville Village Park
Finally, a stop at our uber urban park on Cumberland Street is a must – especially if you have sore feet. Each section is a nod to Canada’s diverse geography. You’ll find Scotch pines in donut-shaped planters, wetlands, even a metallic waterfall. (Niagara Falls anyone?) Mostly you’ll be grateful for the billion-year old Rock, a 650-tonne mound of granite shipped in from the Canadian Shield – it’s a prime spot to park yourself and watch the models and millionaires wander by.
About the Author
Carol Perehudoff is an award-winning freelance travel writer based in Toronto. She blogs at WanderingCarol.com.