Yesterday I ventured into Toronto to visit my family for our annual Christmas get together. Afterwords, I hit up the One of A Kind show with my friend Steph. It’s the first time I have ever gone, and it was a great event. It’s held each year at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place. It’ a massive show with hundreds of vendors to purchase and sample from. While there were lots of cool products to buy, the food was my favourite part. The sampling being worth the $14 admission price alone. We tried fruitcake, sauces, dips, different flavoured vinegar, chocolate, lobster paste and many other delectable creations. While it was enough to keep us going for the afternoon, we were ready for dinner after a few hours.
My friend Steph recommended we head to this place on Queen West called Parts & Labour. The main dining area has 8 long tables where you can sit with strangers and enjoy your dinner. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that, and was pretty cool. As long as you don’t mind strangers staring at your food while you eat. I ordered a Maudite, one of the many varieties of Unibroue that I happen to love from my time working at Le Cellier in EPCOT. The brand was one of the featured Canadian beers we had. I’ve never seen them on tap, so this was a nice surprise. This beer has a great legend, as do all of their varieties.
“Maudite (damned) was the first strong beer to be retailed in Quebec. The word “Maudite” refers here to the Legend of “Chasse-Galerie” a tribute to the early lumberjacks of Nouvelle-France. The legend tells of eight daring woodsmen who, during winter, yearned to be home for the Holidays. They conjured up the Devil and all of them pledged their soul in return for flying them in their canoe to their village. As they sailed across the moonlit sky, one of them managed to free himself from the pledge by invoking the name of God, which caused the flying canoe to come crashing down to earth.”
I chose the 10 oz. strip loin for dinner, accompanied by bone marrow butter, roasted cremini mushrooms, hand cut fries, demi glace. It was the most tender and delicious steak I’ve had in a long time! Perfectly salted, with the delicious demi glace that I am in love with. The atmosphere was really cool at this place, you can even sit at a table in the kitchen if you make a reservation. That way you can see all the action going on. While tempting, I’ve spent enough time in kitchens for this option to be very unappealing. It’s just not magical to sit in the kitchen when you’ve been a server.
Lastly we headed to the Gladstone Hotel, a place that’s so hip they don’t say it’s hip anymore. The place was packed with the usual mix of Toronto urbanites, plus a group of about 30 people dressed as Santa. I’m assuming a Christmas Party? Getting drinks took a while, no big deal as it was Saturday night. What can one expect? My issue was the attitude the bartender gave me as I handed my VISA over to her to pay. She asked if I wanted to start a tab, and I said no. Thinking that after waiting 20 minutes to get a drink, I didn’t want to stand around until Sunday afternoon to get my card back. She got all huffy and as she passed me the terminal, informed me that there’s a $50 minimum, and that this time she’d do it as a favour. Next time, don’t do me any favours. Lose the attitude and maybe put up a sign so I don’t break any unwritten payment rules. This situation just reaffirmed why I don’t like Toronto, but whatever. No one died right! As it was karaoke night, we were right in the middle of a train wreck of entertainment. As expected, the budding superstars were terrible and that’s okay. I’m not a fan of seeing people who can actually sing do karaoke. The highlight of the night was a tone-deaf woman who sang “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. It was terrible, embarrassing and watching her made me cringe. Now that’s a good karaoke singer!