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The Grind

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / Posted on August 30, 2013

The Grind TorontoThe Grind is a somewhat ideally, somewhat mysteriously located coffee shop decorated like an eccentric French lady's salon/boudoir. It's a wholly unexpected discovery, as it's located underground at Yonge and Bloor just as you get off the subway.

As I make what I think is a valiant attempt to hunt this place down, I become confused and actually call the owner to find out exactly where on this planet I might reasonably expect to find them. It's a sunny day, and I feel just as an especially befuddled groundhog might. "T-58!" He hollers at me. "Can't miss it!" Right. It turns out it's just down the escalator, and I am pleasantly surprised at what I find when I get to The Grind.

The GrindA vast array of healthy lunch options is laid out along the counter as you first walk in. There are small plates of hand rolls ($4.99), sandwiches ($5.99) and "little bite" sandwiches ($2.95), as well as baked goods from Jules and Circles & Squares.

The GrindThe atmosphere is nice and quiet, with people snuggled into the antique armchairs reading or having low conversations over tea. A small crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling, and ornate old frames are arranged on the walls, many of them with no pictures inside. It's very granny chic with a shabby edge. It sounds like an odd choice of decor for an underground cafe, but the vintage touches make it more cozy than it would be otherwise. I won't lie, it still seems like a strange basement cafeteria, but, somehow, it works.

The GrindI visit around breakfast time, so I order a lemon ginger scone and a latte, which comes to $7.31 all in. I've got to say, it's not the most remarkable mini-breakfast experience I've ever had. I can taste the real lemon and ginger in the scone, which I always appreciate, but the texture is a little too crumbly, almost as though it had been sitting out longer than it should have been. The coffee is from Forty Ninth parallel, and while the flavour is great, my latte isn't made the way I like it. The foam isn't fine enough, and there's (thus) no cheerful latte art.

The GrindThe Grind, as its name perhaps unintentionally suggests, is a place to wait for the train, meet up for a utilitarian meeting if it's a convenient spot, or grab food on your way to and from work. I know some people in this city spend just about their entire lives indoors and underground, but just because these burrowers exist doesn't make this a destination of any sort.

The GrindMake no mistake, though. This is still a better food-on-the-go option than you'd find, say, outside of Union Station. There are bowls of fruit, cereal, dumplings, and a series of omelettes available for a mere $4.95. It's a convenient spot for many, and their selection of snacks and lunch options far outweighs many other drop-in cafes like it.

Thanks to the New Listerine UltraClean for sponsoring our coffee-fueled adventures.

Photos by Natta Summerky



Unwashed-uberfan / August 30, 2013 at 10:10 am
"is a place to wait for the train"

Who waits outside of the station for a train? This isn't the GO, it doesn't run on a schedule. Not a single person will hang out in a cafe to wait for a subway.
J / August 30, 2013 at 10:21 am
This place looks likes it's meant for the 60+ crowd. If they did a redesign they could likely grab a bigger share of the coffee market around here. Look at Sam James in the path: - it always has lines out the door.
ginnee / August 30, 2013 at 10:29 am
The address makes it look like it might be in the Hudson Bay Centre. So in this case, a map of the centre showing location would be far more helpful than a street map.
I have no idea where this is and I'm in the Hudson Bay Centre a few times a week.
Moi / August 30, 2013 at 11:18 am
Um er. it looks like they were a junk/thrift store and decided to put a cafe in there. looks so u g l y :(
Sean / August 30, 2013 at 11:52 am
More like a tea crowd setting.

d / August 30, 2013 at 04:56 pm
"The coffee is from Forty Ninth parallel, and while the flavour is great, my latte isn't made the way I like it. The foam isn't fine enough, and there's (thus) no cheerful latte art."

Toronto people have lost the thread. Get over yourselves. Sorry, but ..... c'mon
karen / August 30, 2013 at 05:03 pm
"It's very granny chic with a shabby edge"
please PLEASE don't write stuff like this.
Wintry Mix / August 30, 2013 at 05:29 pm
What is "the elevator" you are referring to?

Could you actually locate this cafe for your readers?

Give a picture of the outside of the cafe?


Bobo / August 30, 2013 at 06:57 pm
For those of you wondering, it is situated in the tunnel between Hudson Bay Centre and Lower Level Cumberland Terrace (on the way to Holt Renfrew Centre). This is a little gem, but it is easy to miss. These guys have some nice healthy lunch options ready for takeout.

I agree that a more contemporary design might help bring a bigger crowd. Glad you're giving them a plug - I never understand why it's so quiet in this place while all the lemmings line up out the door at Tim's and Starstrucks on either side of this place.
Bobo replying to a comment from J / August 30, 2013 at 06:59 pm
@J - true enough that a little bit more modern design might help, although being hidden at the bottom of an escalator/stairway doesn't help.

As for the PATH comparison, pretty much everything in the PATH is lined up all the time, except for that silly cereal restaurant, which I assume is gone by now.
Dylan / August 30, 2013 at 09:18 pm
I think this place is tastefully chic. It is classic and refined, but there is a Parisian daintiness to it. Not everything has to be super-mod or indie-rustic to be interesting. Diversity of design is what make urban atmospheres unique.
huh? / August 30, 2013 at 10:09 pm
tastefully chic? Parisian daintiness? super-mod? indie-rustic?

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