Get to know a street: Kingston Road
Kingston Road is plush with quaint, independent shops. In fact, the businesses between Pickering Street and Fallingbrook Road feel more like downtown Bracebridge than east end Toronto. Indeed, to my delight, there are really few chain retailers at all--save for a corner Pizza Pizza and soon-to-be Subway restaurant. But it is mostly charming-looking little shops; so many, in fact, I know I'm bound to miss some community favourites. Here are just a few spots to check out in the Upper Beaches, in this by-no-means exhaustive list.
Sullivan's Fine Chocolate and Teas
Every community needs a little indulgence, and Sullivan's serves it up with its imported handmade Belgium chocolates. And to make the experience just so, Sullivan's only has two tables in its shop, allowing lots of room to exhale after that first bite. Ah... there's that insatiable craving again. The shop also offers a variety of black, white, green, herbal, matcha, and rooibos teas, as well as tea accessories and other chocolates.
Beach Sound Records
A packed record shop with everything from Ella Fitzgerald and Public Enemy on vinyl. What lures me in, though, is the rack of classic Disney videotapes, smiling at me with those lovely princess smiles. Yes, I know you can find similar collections in nearly every residential basement in Toronto, but there's something nice about seeing these videos for sale someplace other than Goodwill. For something totally different--there's an Elvis Presley figurine currently on sale here for $60.
Speaking of sweet princesses, everything about this Kingston Road shop screams (or should that be, 'whispers'?) Tinkerbelle. Airy cupcakes with delicate buttercream blossoms, curly ribbons, decorated cookies, cakes, and more. And to round off the perfect tea party, Sugar Plum offers little extras such as scented candles, soaps, cards and more.
King's Diner doesn't look much like a diner. At least, not in the way you would expect; no soda fountain, no bar, no cook with stained apron. Rather, the restaurant is large and expansive with wooden tables throughout and a half-lit chandelier hanging proudly over the main space. The most interesting feature--carpeting! Yes, carpeting throughout, reminiscent of a 1990's hotel lobby. Which, of course, must be murder for the clean-up crew. For you, though, there's an incredibly priced all-day breakfast, homemade burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, fish, and a kids' menu.
A country bakery in the city. Owners Heather and Trish have tried to give their space that rural feel with bushel baskets and original wooden floors. It would be hard to narrow down the favourites from this place, but Knead's giant weekend cinnamon rolls, cheesecake, and Nanaimo bars are known to make customers swoon. A fairly new arrival, but this place has certainly become one of the go-to bakeries for a fresh loaf of bread.
Close To The Bone
Personally, I could take a butcher with a less literal name, but I like this one's philosophy, so perhaps I'll be forgiving. Close To The Bone only offers meat from animals that have been treated humanely and have not been given hormones. The owner tells me they source from one particular Ontario farm that has its own abattoir so it can be sure on the process the whole way through. Everything is offered here, from beef, lamb, pork, deli meats, and even its own line of gluten-free Italian sausages.
Great Escape Books
Great Escape Books is just as a classic bookstore should be--bursting out of its shelves and overflowing with print. Books are piled high here; above overhead shelves, in milk crates on the floor, and stacked in mini mountains by the cash. There's a mix of new releases and old, as well as fresh books and slightly used. Books on display when I dropped by included a title on Mao, Shania Twain's memoir, a book on Asperger's, and Freakanomics.
Gluten-free pizza, yam latkas, tofu brownies and more. Naturally Yours has lots of freshly made vegetarian fare, as well as herbs, natural beauty products, and supplements. It also has a whole array of salads prepared daily, including Asparagus, Green, and Oriental Tofu.
Come by Savoury Grounds' new location when they're doing their roasting and just try not to stop and linger--it's impossible. Fresh buttercream paint on the walls, a rustic wooden bar at the window, and nice view of some trees by the back window, and Savoury Grounds is the perfect spot for a weekend unwind. Fresh coffee, tea, and lots of treats.
Courage Foods is a little Kingston Road market offering fresh fruits and veggies (locally sourced, of course), along with bakery goodies, pantry items, and prepared lunches and dinners. It must also stock some magic spice, because it smells absolutely divine.
Beaches Bake Shop
Like Knead, Beaches Bakeshop has that small town, country vibe. Perhaps it's the clay pots holding the napkins on the bakery's little tables? Beaches Bakeshop offers lunch items, including sweet potato soup and fresh paninis, as well as bakery items and signature Swedish treats such as Kanelbullen and Sarah Bernards.
Cut N' Run
Cut N' Run is one of those 'spill your soul' type barbershops, where you drop in for a fade and end up revealing your innermost secrets. Started in a basement, it's now a thriving business run by Peter Gowdie (AKA: P Cutter), along with Jason Macaraig (AKA: J Mac) and Pantah. Look for puppies in the window.
Mullins is your classic corner Irish Pub with really friendly wait staff and a simply awesome patio. The food is typical pub fare, with wings, burgers, and nachos, along with about 10 beers on tap. Be on the lookout for Mill Street lemon tea!
Download the blogTO iphone app to discover more places on Kingston Road and the Upper Beaches. Here are some screenshots:
Previously in this series:
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