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Cafes

SpiceSafar

Posted by Dar Mustafa / Posted on October 13, 2009

SpiceSafarSpiceSafar 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.

SpiceSafarSpiceSafar 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.

SpiceSafarI 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.

SpiceSafarSkipping 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.

SpiceSafarMy 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.

SpiceSafarShould 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.

SpiceSafarBut 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."

SpiceSafarYes, they serve alcohol. The place even turns into a bonafide lounge as the night stretches on, which is, presumably, a smooth transition.

SpiceSafarDramatic 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".

SpiceSafar

Discussion

25 Comments

NoChance / October 14, 2009 at 09:25 am
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This place will be tits up by January.
ink / October 14, 2009 at 10:40 am
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looks amazing, especially if they open late...do you know the hours?
keven / October 14, 2009 at 10:49 am
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Went once, will definitely go back! Great service, really friendly and the place is just amazing looking inside. I had a single espresso and it was pretty good. Not the absolute best I've had, but it was very tasty.
Amanda / October 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm
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How do you properly pronounce the name? Spices-afar? Spice-Saf-arr? Spice-Sah-fer?
jack / October 14, 2009 at 03:05 pm
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i think those wall papers are from umbra
Reality Check / October 14, 2009 at 03:49 pm
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This is in the Atelier space and is a quite good reuse - like the rest of the Uniq bars it was (some) evenings only. Very hard for it to go tits up when it's adding revenue to an existing business.

From talking to staff, there should be more locations opening soon.
mr. hood / October 14, 2009 at 05:14 pm
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this place is great, staff are friendly, and it gives you a quiet, comfy setting rather than the cookie cutter fast food box of the starbucks experience..

their coffee is great, and so are the pastries...
Hours / October 14, 2009 at 08:30 pm
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I went after work and they weren't open :(

So much for the after-work crowd....
Gautam replying to a comment from Amanda / October 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm
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If they are going for the indian word then you would pronounce it:
spice 'suffer'

where safar = journey

So, spice journey

And, they were handing out coupons for free coffee outside my office on john st all day
Hours / October 16, 2009 at 11:48 pm
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Okay, I managed to get in before they closed for the day. Very impressed! I hope they do well here. I guess the evening lounge thing hasn't happened just yet, since they close at around 7pm on weekdays.
Dar / October 16, 2009 at 11:57 pm
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Sorry about the hours confusion, guys. When I asked what time they closed, he didn't give a straight answer, said it was kind of open-ended...I guess they're still working it out. :-)
Ashley / October 22, 2009 at 10:05 am
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Yes indeed they still trying to sort out their hours however Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night has a really great vibe at the John and Adelaide location.
Renee / December 1, 2009 at 11:39 am
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They have the BEST croissants and Lattés. I really enjoy the atmosphere and the service. We often bring our clients there for our weekly 1 hour meetings. It impresses them. I highly recommend checking them out.
CafeAway / December 22, 2009 at 09:20 am
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Love it. Real french croissants and amazing coffee. Cool lounge flavour. They do for coffee what Porter did for air travel. Hope they can keep up this level of service. Time will tell.
Awesome / December 24, 2009 at 02:59 pm
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This place is too cool for its own good. There's a great little boutique shop set up in here with all kinds of neat things from a dozen or so countries. Really cool design stuff like wooden iPhone covers and Japanese watches and bamboo clock radios I could swear I saw at DWR. Check it out!
Arlene the Biker Queen / March 20, 2010 at 11:17 am
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The cappuccinos that we have enjoyed at Spicesafar on King West are by far the best cappuccinos we have encountered anywhere here and in the Old World. There’s apparently a very long story behind this level of excellence — so you simply have to try Spicesafar’s coffees for yourself!
P.S. The marzipan croissants are to die for!

Salty Coffee / August 10, 2010 at 10:48 am
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I just bought a $3 Americano from the King St location. Looks like someone mixed up the sugar and salt because when I was driving away I tasted a nice hot salty coffee, yum! I tried to call them but they don't have a phone number on their website. Brilliant!

As an added bonus I waited about 10 minutes for the coffee.

SC
bill replying to a comment from NoChance / September 4, 2010 at 11:25 am
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well, my friend its September:) so i trust your feel rather stupid and silly by now.I have been many times the past weeks at Spicesafar on King street and its packed with cool people having a great time.The coffee and bakery products are the best in the city and the service is world class.
YASMIN / September 29, 2010 at 05:42 pm
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I had the best soy latte there today, it was delicious and perfectly executed. I also had a grilled peach, arugula, pesto, Manchego cheese sandwich on naan that was very yummy. So much for "tits up." This place is great. The pastries look delectable. Staff was very friendly. Whole vibe was not pretentious at all.
chephy / December 9, 2010 at 09:43 am
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Wow... amazing! I had two Rooibos Red Latte and a pistachio croissant, and I can't rave enough about it. The croissant, slightly crunchy on the outside and sweet (but not too sweet) and moist on the inside, filled with a delectable pistachio paste, is by far the best I've had in Toronto (and this includes croissants from all the French and French-inspired bakeries I tried, such as Clafouti, Pain Perdu, La Cigogne etc). Divine is the only proper word to describe it.

Similar compliments to the latte. Despite liking tea, I usually avoid tea lattes, since what they serve in most places under the name usually tastes like repulsively sweet steamed milk. However, this was perfect: a great balance of milk and tea flavours, and no sugar or any other sweeteners. The pastry on the side is a cute touch. The shot of sparkling water would have been too, had it not tased so weird: it seemed to resemble bad tap water. Maybe it's some fancy mineral water though, and I'm just too much of a peasant to recognize its goodness?

The place was not easy to get too: the door is locked, and while there is a button by the door to speak with someone, my repeated hellos did not produce any effect. I actually ended up going in with another customer, who had to phone her boss (already waiting inside) to be buzzed in. However, once inside, I was treated warmly, despite looking very decidedly out of place (I do wear fairly formal clothes to work, but my biking garb over top of that is fairly ratty-looking). Can't wait to go here for lunch soon.
Murray / April 23, 2011 at 01:50 pm
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The people that ran this place are crooks! They have not paid their rent where they live for months, and are on the lam! BEWARE!!
Larry / May 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm
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But if they were crooks, they were certainly generous to their customers, and their food, their coffee & their hospitality was divine
Marvin L. / May 5, 2011 at 12:06 am
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Wolves in Sheep Clothing!! .. They are TENANTS from HELL!! And have left unpaid bills all over town! .. So hurray, they made you feel like a King (at other's expense).
Daryl / May 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm
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Is this placed closed for good? Their website is now a parked-domain. Their Twitter feed hasn't been updated in a year. There hasn't been any reviews on BlogTO or Foursquare in almost a year.

What's moved in? Another coffee place?
Ink replying to a comment from Larry / December 24, 2013 at 11:27 am
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Crooks who didn't pay their rent, walked out with the profits just before Christmas and stuck all their staff for 2 weeks wages. Avoid them like the plague.

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