Best of the City 2011: Seven ways to have a great time (bowling and bachelor parties included)
2788 Bathurst St., 416-782-1841
No leather banquettes or bottle service here, and thank the Dude for that! Instead, the Bowlerama offers the real essentials—hideous footwear, ridiculously cheap beer and a Bee Gees soundtrack. The campiest parties happen after 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, when all 16 10-pin lanes go glow-in-the-dark for “Cosmic Bowling.” The lovelorn may want to consider the winter-season Sunday-night singles league: if someone likes you in bowling shoes, it’s probably the real deal. $30 per hour for a lane.
398 Church St., 416-977-0999
Restaurant lineups aren’t there to make you feel welcome—they’re there to remind you that you weren’t organized enough, early enough or cool enough to snag a table to begin with. But the queue at Guu, the still wildly popular izakaya on Church, is altogether different. The crowds of assorted Ryerson students and Japanese pub food nuts aren’t rivals, jockeying to catch the hostess’s eye. They’re teammates, pumping each other up for the big game—in this case, rich salmon tartare rolled in nori and huge steins of Sapporo. And if your spirits should flag as you approach your second hour of waiting, take heart: you’ll be greeted with a rousing welcome, in unison, from every server and chef when you finally enter.
Spot for a bachelor party
The Academy of Spherical Arts
1 Snooker St., 416-532-2782
What happens in Vegas can stay in Vegas—there’s a prime party-down option right here in town. Best men and their betrothed buddies skip Hangover-style shenanigans and cue up the fun at the Academy of Spherical Arts, a sprawling wood-and-leather billiard hall in Liberty Village. The Academy is home to 14 antique tables, including one commissioned by Edward VIII. Pro demos, single malt tastings and cigar-rolling seminars round out the modern gentleman’s skill set; hundreds of whiskies, cognacs and ports help ease pre-wedding jitters. $725–$950 to rent the Chenier Room.
Spot for a bridal party
99 Yorkville Ave., 416-961-2202
Moroco takes female bonding very seriously. The Yorkville chocolatier offers bridal parties semi-private and private neo-Rococo rooms for deejayed gatherings that combine desserts and drinks beneath twinkling chandeliers. Cocoa-crazed women sip martinis laced with Valrhona chocolate, dip into a trio of dark, milk and white chocolate fondues and swoon over towers of macarons. Our favourite chocolate fix: a deluxe tabletop version of s’mores. $45 per person.
275 Queens Quay W., 416-203-3000
Landlocked blues are easily cured by a 43-foot Bayliner yacht. The Harbourfront Centre, as part of its larger boat rental program, has recently added luxury charter rentals. You and up to 11 friends can devote a sunny afternoon to pretending Lake Ontario is the French Riviera. A two-hour rental package ($600) covers fuel and your very own Captain Stubing. Catered food is extra. Zero boating experience required, but nautical clothing is advisable for optimal “I’m on a boat!” authenticity.
Miles Nadal JCC
750 Spadina Ave., 416-924-6211
Jumping on a trend embraced by posh pool owners, the Miles Nadal JCC uses dissolved salt instead of gallons of chemicals. The upside: much lower levels of itch-causing chloramines, making for gentler water and a luxurious, spa-like swimming oasis. The pool is fun too—when you’re not luxuriating in the therapeutic waters, MNJCC offers lessons, Aquafit classes and even a Master Swim Club for those seeking a rigorous workout. Family pass for rec swim: $10 (for a family of five); $16 for lap swim and gym access.
City Dance Corps
489 Queen St. W., 3rd floor, 416-260-2356
Natalie Portman’s cunnilingual Black Swan co-star Mila Kunis should have won the Oscar simply for her enviable physique, developed over three months of intense ballet-focused workouts. You can try for the same results with the City Dance Corps’ Power Barre classes, which incorporate a ballet barre and traditional movements (pliés, jetés, pas de bourrée, etc.) into a series of muscle-toning and fat-burning reps. The pace is fast—the idea is to get you sweating, not turn you into a prima ballerina. Stick with it for long enough and wearing a full-body leotard might not seem like such a humiliating proposition. $15.25 a class.