Saks Food Hall by Pusateri's (Queen Street)
Saks Food Hall by Pusateri's has a location underneath the Saks Fifth Avenue across from the Eaton Centre. This means access to the fanciest, schmansiest groceries available in Toronto are finally available south of Bloor Street, along with plenty of mini-restaurants and unique store-in-store operations.
They're open from 7:30 a.m., so you can get your gourmet shop on or grab a coffee before work.
The space has a funnily casino-like quality, extremely luxe and tantalizing, but the subterranean location means there are no windows. Most of the store is outfitted in gleaming white with classy black accents by design heavyweights GH+A . Again like a sort of hedonistic food casino, the area is rather labyrinthine, but handbill maps and signs with arrows lead the way.
A unique aspect this location takes pride in is the fruit and veggie butcher. It makes a ton of sense when you think about it: we don't expect ourselves to take the time and energy needed to break down pieces of meat, so why put ourselves through any stress with veggies? This station operates free of charge and is designed to encourage healthy home cooking in busy lives.
Daits is the food hall's date bar, the first of its kind in Canada. The dates are all imported from the Arabian Peninsula, and come in a variety of handcrafted flavours like peanut butter and chocolate. Ranging from two for $6 to sixteen for $45, they'd make an interesting alternative to chocolates.
At the chopped salad bar they use a mezzaluna for optimal consistency and flavour. Create your own for $9.99 or choose a signature like a kale caesar for $14.99. This station shares its spot with an equally customizable yogurt bar.
There's a Greenhouse Juice bar with inspiring green "Genius" and citrus "Wake Up" juices along with their nut milks.
Though they've got the dates they're not skimping on the regular chocolate by a long shot with a whole bar dedicated to David Chow 's elegant and artful creations in flavours like fig, port and balsamic ($3.50 each).
High end olive oils are in the same section, showcasing a balance between sweet and savoury.
Butchered meats are drool worthy, Frenched lamb shanks ($3.53/100g) and Manhattan style beef tenderloin chops ($6.17/100g) presented elegantly.
Some breads are baked in-house, but others come from reputable local bakeries like Blackbird , who provides their French baguettes ($5).
Their fromagerie is a cheese lover's dream with giant wheels of cheese displayed in a fridge, several sections and a helpful guide explaining the differences between fresh to natural rind to blue cheeses. They'll even help you design your own cheese board.
Sorelle and Co. makes the prettiest cakes, cookies, breads, donuts, and cupcakes that strive never to make you ask "What's in that?" with vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and nut-free treats.
In-store pizza joint Bene is sure to be popular, selling gourmet slices for only $5 - $7 made with Canadian fior di latte cheese, flour from a 150-year-old mill and certified San Marzano tomatoes.
Photos by Hector Vasquez