Client meeting or romantic evening, 4pm or 4am , I find myself returning time and again to a little Toronto hideaway known as 7 West .
Located at (you might have guesed) 7 Charles Street West (just south of Bloor), the cafe takes over all three floors of a lovely old Victorian townhome and is ever-so-conveniently open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In mid-afternoon, you can sit by a window on quiet Charles St and take in the exposed brick, laid back grooves, and fantastic selection of coffee and teas. In the middle of the night it's an even sweeter destination as the lights are turned low while the music is turned up and you can order up the kind of dish just not available at the usual 24-hour diners in town.
Stopping in yesterday, a few friends and I settle in on the 2nd floor and order up two domestic beers ($5), a regular coffee ($2), cappuccino ($3) and some water for those parched from the post-work bike ride up Bay.
"I'll bring some for everyone," the waitress smiles back and returns quickly with glasses and a couple mini carafes of water. Nice.
After a brief stint with the diverse menu, we settle on our orders:
Penne 'Aribiata' ($13) - Pictured at the top, these penne were just as fiesty as their angry (albeit misspelled) name suggests. A generous portion of penne, they were accompanied by red peppers, onions, sausage and spicy tomato sauce. They were as tasty as they were photogenic. (For the record, it's Arrabbiata !)
Rosie Ravioli ($12) - Stuffed with ricotta and asparagus, these fresh ravioli are smothered with rose sauce and served with a couple slices of Italian bread. At the first sight of all those seemingly heavy ravioli, we can't help but wonder why they would bother with the bread, but after tasting the sauce, the owner of this dish made fine use of those slices and saved the dishwasher any scrubbing.
BLT Sandwich ($9) - A hearty sandwich, the BLT got along quite nicely with it's side of house salad -- though the salad nearly stole the show. Unlike your usual mixed green salad side, 7 West's colourful side comes topped with red pepper, cabbage, and fresh chick peas! Delicious.
Grilled Vegetarian Sandwich ($9) - This was my choice and probably the least welcome of the lot. While it was described as "honey glazed vegetables with bocconcini," there were no bocconcini to be found and the veggies seemed more like stir-fried freezer vegetables in a bun. Trust me, I've cooked them like this, myself, at home. The salad also saw no chickpeas. Ah well, they can't all be winners.
Of course, a disappointed diner can easily be cheered up with a dish from the stocked up dessert counter.
In this case, the answer was a monster slice of Chocolate Banana Cake ($6).
Moist and positively delicious. BLOGTO bonus points to whoever decided to lace the icing on the side with decadent dark chocolate chips.
7 West Cafe, 7 Charles Street West, 416-928-9041