Sunday, September 28, 2014

London Calling!

Anyone who has ever tried to squeeze up to the bar, or waited patiently for a table at The Wren on any night other than Monday, knows that this neighbourhood is dying for more gastropubs - or really, anything that serves good food and has a few taps. The ironic sign at new Brit-inspired gastropub The Burough may have thrown a few people off, but after realizing it wasn't actually an outpost of East York city hall or a constituency office, we're certain many will be queuing up on September 30 when it opens its doors.

We were expecting some tongue-in-cheek British ambiance but the first thing Pioneer loved about this place was the archive prints of Danforth East adorning the walls. The pictures reinforce immediately that The Burrough is keenly aware of its place and its role within this local community.

Before talking about the menu, proprietors Richard and Jason walked Pioneer through the pillars of their gastropub dream: community, local, sustainable. Richard lives a few minutes walk away and loves that the Danforth East community feels like his neighbourhood growing up. This became his inspiration for jumping into the restaurant business. With his partner Jason in charge of the menu, the two dreamed up a vision that weaves community together with food. A British-inspired gastropub with a local twist.

They've not only committed to a local menu, but are practicing what they preach by using community resources as much as possible. The London-inspired exterior was created by a Danforth sign shop and the eight British and European style draught taps were installed by a local technician.

Getting back to the menu, Jason says he's keeping it tight so their tiny kitchen can stick to the mandate of staying local. Pioneer's mouth was watering dreaming about the bangers & mash or the Ontario pickerel fillet with roasted cauliflower. Richard insisted that the place will be family friendly and welcome kids just like a British pub (we're pretty sure the $17 Mac & Cheese with aged cheddar and goat’s milk parmesan will go to waste on the Junior Pioneers though).

It's a long way from London, but Pioneer thinks this sleek little pub will be a great place to have a pint and "support the economy"!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kids! Kids! Kids!

Everywhere Pioneer looks these days, there are kids! Young and younger, tweens and teens. Danforth East is alive with the jubilant laughter of the young. The only downside to this many young Pioneers in a saturated market, is what to do with them between 3pm and 6pm while you're hustling for a living. So, when an email popped into our inbox about Kaza Family Centre, a new family/community hub on Danforth, we thought it was worth a good old-fashioned Pioneer look.

Kaza Family Centre took over the old "piano" store between Linsmore and Monarch Park and turned a dusty, unused space into a welcome oasis for both little ones and their parents. Owner and chief creative officer Nadia Barakeh was inspired to open the doors on this little piece of sunshine after moving to the neighbourhood and falling in love with, what else, the community!

She calls Kaza a family hub to support a healthy community which jives perfectly with the rest of Danforth East. It's a place where junior Pioneers get actual homework support after school, can do some tumbling to get out those beans and be taken care of in a bi-lingual home away from home. You can (and should) read more about it here:!untitled/cc16.

What we think is totally awesome, is the added bonus of family workshops along the lines of "Improv  comedy for you and your kids" (kids are truly the funniest little creatures) and "Intro to Parenting"(Pioneer wishes this had been mandatory six years ago....!). Nadia's background in clinical psychiatry and development also means we've got a therapist on speed dial - if we needed it that is.

Nadia is also planning art workshops for kids and parents, plus, rainy day fun and PA day programming - more info will be posted to KaZa's Facebook page so stayed tuned!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Italian Connection

It was one of those days. A day where the Danforth continues to surprise and delight us, even after all this time!

Pioneer was tugging the juniors along the Danforth on a hot, sticky summer day when what to our wondering eyes should appear? A storefront window filled with colourful mannequins decked out in beautiful finery. Were we delirious? Was it the heat? No, it was not a mirage. At long last, a clothing boutique has finally opened at Monarch Park and Danforth. The newest icon of style for our 'hood is called Icons Boutique (1400 Danforth) and it is beautiful.

Danforth East and DECA have done a great job of  improving the retail strip, but there hasn't been a lot of clothing retail around here save for DECA's pop up efforts such as In This Closet (one of our FAVES!). But let's face it, there's nothing like walking into a boutique at the end of your street that's brimming with new, sexy Italian fashions.

Icons opened its doors in August after renovating a former salon space (hmmmm.....The Wren also renovated a former salon....). The chief stylist has connections in Italy and imports huge budget-friendly Italian brands such as Rinascimento and more. Perusing through the racks, Pioneer saw work appropriate, party appropriate and Friday-night appropriate items that were not only interesting but easy on the wallet. We think this might be music to the ears of style-hungry Danforthistas! Happy Shopping!

***Just a side note that Pioneer was recently in active service as a bridesmaid wearing a Rinascimento dress and we can personally vouch for it's comfort, elegance and affordability!

Monday, August 4, 2014

1794: Another #Local Option

It's only been a year since gastro-love hit a fever pitch in the nabe when The Wren opened, but it seems like an eternity in comparison to the pace that restos open and close in the west end. Pioneer's been eying the sleek new sign and trendy garage doors at 1794 Danforth with anticipation, wondering what's behind the craft paper obstructing our view. Never one to let something like that get in our way, we decided to pop in for a surprise tete-a-tete with Harry, the owner of new restaurant Local 1794.

The old Columbo's space is unrecognizable - what was once 85% kitchen and 15% fast food counter, is now a beautiful, sophisticated space lined with comfortable booths, cedar wine racks and probably the longest wooden bar on the Danforth. Harry said he's going for the casual comfort look and feel, designing the space himself to get the right atmosphere where the Junior Pioneers can feel comfortable throwing around pizza at kiddie happy hour, and Pioneer and her gal pals can guzzle red wine and appies late into the night.

Speaking of pizza, the old Columbo's pizza oven was completely rebuilt and Pioneer is just waiting for the green light to head over for some mouth-watering, hand rolled stone baked pizza pie. Harry's menu won't be focused around Italian food, but will be a mix of some solid mains with lots of fresh appetizers, salads and rotating specials from the smoker.

The beer list promises to be intense. Harry has 24 taps installed and is working closely with local breweries and craft beer makers to get it just right. Pioneer knows a fella or two in the neighbourhood (Pete!) who will be keeping a shine on the bar with the sleeves of their coat....

We bet you're wondering about the magic question: when will Local 1794 open? We'll have to wait and see. The City of Toronto is holding the water pipes hostage at the moment, and we all know how these things work. So keep your eyes peeled on 1794 Danforth for the opening of a very welcome addition to the block - but until then, it will have to be a surprise!