SpiceSafar recently opened it's second location, in a hood that I don't frequent very often - King West. But I like to be reminded of its offerings every once in awhile, and I'd like to think it feels the same way about me.
SpiceSafar seemed intimidating from... afar (forgive me), but has a mellow, comfy inside - albeit a sophisticated one. Mellow, like acoustic versions of Semisonic (remember a little ditty called "Closing Time"?), and U2. Sophisticated, like a "coffee experience which includes a side of sparkling water and two delectable treats from [their] pastry kitchen," which is explained on their digital screen menu outside.
It's worth noting that both traits come together in the sounds of "Tom's Diner" over the stereo, which pretty much always makes my day.
I appreciate someone taking the time to make my coffee an "experience", and the sleek shot glass of water, the wooden block it was carried in on, and a Danish-basket provide just that.
The coffee itself (an Americano, $2.95) comes in an enormous, bowl-like vessel, with self-branded sugar, and no dairy products to be seen. I almost wimp out and ask for some, but I remember my summertime Albanian coffee training and just go with it. Incidentally, the side of mineral water and tiny, complimentary sweets on the side also remind me of Europe.
Skipping the dairy was a good decision; I have never had black coffee go down so smoothly. The coffee is "our own," the manager tells me, "shade grown in the Mexican rainforest", and roasted in Montreal for this and their other location at Adelaide and John.
My ricotta and blueberry Danish ($2.95), is delivered to me in a cute (but not too cute) little basket with handles.The pastry mildly on the stiff side, a dollop of lemon-tinged cheese on top sweetens and softens, and the tartness allows the blueberry flavour to really pop. Other offerings include a variety of croissants, an apple and marzipan turnover and sticky buns. All I really want though, is another Danish. But I can't be late for work.
Should I decide to stay, I could lengthen my visit with a variety of lunch options like sandwiches ($7.95-$9.50), salads ($4.95) and a daily soup ($4.95); draw it out even further thanks to their recently-launched "Complimentary Internet" service. I know that it is no different than the "Free Wi-Fi" everyone else gives me, but it just sounds better.
But where it's really at is with the after-work crowd. Even as I'm making my way out in the early afternoon, it's getting more and more full.
"It's a nice place to finish the day," I'm told, "there are a lot of ad agencies around here... people like to come in after work... they can sit and have a coffee, while their friend has a drink."
Yes, they serve alcohol. The place even turns into a bonafide lounge as the night stretches on, which is, presumably, a smooth transition.
Dramatic lighting, glamorous faces on the wall (framed by super cool wallpaper that deserves a mention) and the cushy indulgence of this coffee-drinking experience has already added a little nightlife... or, at least, "good life" into this grey and horribly rainy day. Now, is that too much to ask for?
King Street West offers a resounding "no".