The top 25 places to eat, drink and party during TIFF 2017
Planta Where vegan celebs eat carrot dogs
1 There’s no need for vegan celebs to make special requests for meat- and dairy-free meals here. Every dish at Planta—pizza, pasta and even a hot dog—is 100 per cent plant based. The burger, a deeply satisfying legume creation, is a contender for the city’s best meatless patty. And sincethe place is a co-production between Nota Bene chef David Lee and the Chase Hospitality Group (the folks behind other swanky spots like the Chase, Kasa Moto and Colette Grand Café), it looks more like a page out of a West Elm catalogue than a backpacker’s hostel. And the cocktails? Well, they’re made with cold-pressed juice and, in some cases, chickpea-based “egg white,” of course. 1221 Bay St., 647-348-7000, plantatoronto.com.
Figures Where the Force is with you
2 This new fictional character–themed lounge at Av and Dav is the culinary equivalent of Kendall Jenner declaring, “I’m a nerd!” Velvet ropes lead into a vestibule, wallpapered in comic book pages, where action figures are for sale, and it’s here that a concierge presses a button to open a hidden door leading into a dark dining room thrumming with music—it looks like the love child of a Maserati and a Planet Hollywood. The menu might be a grown-up power dinner (Berkshire pork two ways, Wagyu beef served on a block of pink Himalayan salt) but bartenders will still stencil a Stormtrooper into the egg white froth of your cocktail. 137 Avenue Rd., 416-900-1022, figuresto.com.
STK Where the stars can take in the surf (and the turf)
3 Yorkville’s sizzling-hot steak house wasn’t open to the public last year, when it hosted the Creative Coalition Spotlight Initiative Gala Awards, which brought out Jennifer Connelly, Maria Bello, Parker Posey, Jonathan Demme, Uzo Aduba and Dakota Fanning. This year, there’s a good chance surf-and-turf-loving stars will pop in for luxe dishes, like a dry-aged porterhouse with foie gras butter, or redundantly decadent baked potato tater tot bacon poutine. 153 Yorkville Ave., 416-613-9660, togrp.com/venue/stk-toronto.
Lavelle Where the centrepiece is a swimming pool
4 King West’s newest rooftop playground for adults has had its fair share of celebrity—it hosted parties for both Snowden and La La Land last year. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zachary Quinto and Melissa Leo noshed on chef Romain Avril’s beef sliders during their visit, and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone popped by too, sneaking in and out of the back entrance. Warm festival nights might see this year’s stars dipping their toes in the 47-metre pool—one of North America’s longest—or taking in the skyline from one of the poolside cabanas, maybe with a bottle of Dom Pérignon rosé that goes for a cool $1,250. (A more affordable, but still boozy, option: a scoop or two of mojito sorbet.) 627 King St. W., 647-347-9353, chezlavelle.com.
Oretta Where festival-goers can get stuff to go
5 This colossal new Italian restaurant on King West has enough space to seat 220 celebs and star-spotters for dinners of salumi, Roman-style pizzas, house-made chitarrina pasta and barrel-aged negronis. And because it’s only a 10-minute walk from the Lightbox, the takeout counter will probably prove a popular place for moviegoers to grab lunch or a snack to go before getting back in the rush line. 633 King St. W., 416-944-1932, oretta.to.
Byblos Where Casey Affleck eats his veggies
6 Charles Khabouth’s Middle Eastern mecca has drawn crowds of celebs every September since it opened in 2015. Some are fans of chef Stuart Cameron’s decadent za’atar- and dukkah-spiced meat dishes (Gerard Butler opted for the fried chicken, John Travolta for the lamb ribs). But during last year’s cast party for Manchester by the Sea, which brought out Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Matt Damon, Affleck requested the restaurant’s vegan menu, opting to have the equally delicious falafel salad and seared cauliflower. 11 Duncan St., 647-560-0439, byblostoronto.com.
Estia Where the dishes are showstoppers
7Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji have turned NAO, their macho steak house, into a glam seafood restaurant that feels like a Mediterranean club as imagined by Jay Gatsby, washed in amber chandelier light, Beyoncé’s silky growl—and Yorkville money. Given how popular NAO was with celebs, there’s no doubt Estia will be a hot spot for stars this year—but they’ll be trading in their Kobe steak dinners for chef Ben Heaton’s showstopping dishes, like a five-pound, wood oven–cooked red snapper that’s enough to feed a table of six. 90 Avenue Rd., 647-694-2325, estiatoronto.com.
The Drake Hotel Where Jared Leto jokes around
8The city’s OG boutique hotel is perennially popular with visiting celebs. Over the years the West Queen West hot spot has served the likes of Adria Grenier, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoë Kravitz and Jared Leto—who, in character as the Joker, refused to touch any food with his hands. Which is too bad, because the burger isn’t the same eaten with a knife and fork. This year, the Sky Yard’s theme is Canadian wilderness, which means decorative grasses, trillium motifs, and walls covered in hand-painted animals and birds, which will all make for Instagram-worthy backdrops. 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042, thedrakehotel.ca.
Spirit of York Where to sip made-in-the-six spirits
9 Remember that time back in 2014 when Jane Fonda pulled up to the Distillery District and refused to get out of the car and face the cobblestones? Maybe if there had been an actual distillery to visit, she would have braved stumbling in her stilettos. Well, for the first time in a long time, what was once the world’s largest distillery is making spirits again, reclaiming the former Gooderham and Worts malting room (more recently a clothing store) to produce vodka and gin. Visiting celebs can make their own drink tinctures at the apothecary-like bitters bar, sample a flight or get a bottle to take back to their hotel suite. 12 Trinity St., 416-777-0001, spiritofyork.com.
Montecito Where L.A. meets T.O.
10 Film producer Ivan Reitman’s Entertainment District restaurant may serve California-inspired cuisine, but Canadian ingredients are given top billing: Fogo Island cod, Perth County pork belly and Nova Scotia scallops, to name a few. Gabrielle Union, Aja Naomi King and Armie Hammer popped in at the start of TIFF last year, and it was a revolving door of star power from then on. Star tip: get the signature potatoes, which are parboiled, smashed, fried and sprinkled with parm. Sandra Bullock loved them so much when she visited in 2015 that she ordered a second helping. 299 Adelaide St. W., 416-599-0299, montecitorestaurant.ca.
Storys Building Where there’s a party on every floor
11Given its advanced age, this 173-year-old, four-storey building can really party. Just a popcorn kernel’s throw away from the Lightbox, it’s usually ground zero for shindigs during the festival. Last year, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and Peter Sarsgaard showed up for The Magnificent Seven’s screening party, where the Storys burger proved to be one of the more popular passed canapés. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, meanwhile, snacked on the miso tempura shrimp and mac-and-cheese beignets during the party for alien thriller Arrival. This year, RBC House, within Storys, will celebrate the festival with premiere parties, film junkets and a special RBCXMusic party headlined by the Arkells on Sept. 8. 11 Duncan St., 416-367-9000, storysbuilding.com.
Café Boulud Where the chef is a celebrity, too
12Don’t expect Jaden Smith’s recent cheese-fuelled rant about the Four Seasons to stop celebs from flocking to Daniel Boulud’s brasserie for French favourites like Parisian steak tartare seasoned tableside, a golden-brown rotisserie bird or Boulud’s signature Frenchie burger. (While the hotel has a super-strict policy about keeping guest info classified, a source tells us that Leonardo DiCaprio, Christopher Plummer and Jennifer Hudson all dined at Café Boulud last year.) This year, the restaurant’s lower-level lounge, D-Bar, will once again be transformed into the Perrier-Jouët garden of wonder, decked out in foliage and flowers, and serving a special menu of champagne cocktails. 60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6010, cafeboulud.com/toronto.
Chabrol Where the staff can keep a secret
13Doug Penfold’s tucked-away French bistro isn’t hosting any TIFF parties (it’s just way too teeny), but the restaurant did have the pleasure of hosting some A-list actors last year. (Though they’re way too classy to serve and tell.) The papillote of whitefish is a fan favourite, but new additions to the menu that might prove irresistible to celebrities include a champagne cart program and caviar service. And despite being smack dab in the middle of Yorkville, Chabrol is accessed via an alley and barely visible from the street—perfect for avoiding the prying eyes of peeping paparazzi. 90 Yorkville Ave., 416-428-6641, chabrolrestaurant.com.
The Addisons Where every night is a house party
14The closest thing to a Bridle Path bash, the Addisons’ (a fictional family whose parental units never seem to be present) nightly house parties come complete with Solo cups, boozy slushies, big screens, foosball and firepits. Last year, they hosted events for ET Canada, and the casts of A Monster Calls and Deepwater Horizon. No word on whether or not Sigourney Weaver or Mark Wahlberg took in a game or two of oversized Jenga. 456 Wellington St. W., 416-260-9393, theaddisonsto.com.
Buca Osteria Where the pasta is the star
15Buca’s outpost at the base of the Four Seasons attracts moneyed clientele all year round, so it’s no surprise that it brings in Hollywood’s elite during TIFF. They’re all there for executive chef Rob Gentile’s A-plus Italian dishes, most notably his decadent house-made pasta, like the pillowy ravioli stuffed with Alaskan king crab, served in a seafood broth with fiddleheads and pea tendrils. At $42, it’s the perfect plate for any deep pockets the festival brings in. 53 Scollard St., 416-962-2822, buca.ca/yorkville.
Café Cancan Where the Harbord Room lives on
16Ghosts of TIFF past might haunt the former festival favourite—and this year’s A-listers might show up, too, unaware that the curtain has closed on the Harbord Room. They’ll be delighted to find that in its place is an equally irresistible French bistro from Victor Barry, the chef and co-owner of neighbouring Piano Piano. The walls are still pretty in pink, but the menu is now devoted to bistro classics, like steak tartare, chilled seafood and côte de boeuf, plus an entire section for all things foie gras. Barry’s burger, a double-patty number on a house-made milk bun, is meant to satisfy lingering cravings for the Harbord Room’s signature item. 89 Harbord St., 647-341-3100, cafecancan.com.
Momofuku Where to get a post-premiere pork bun
17Since opening in 2012, David Chang’s multi-storey complex that houses three restaurants (Noodle Bar, Daishō, Shōtō) and a cocktail bar (Nikai), has hosted oodles of celebs. Jake Gyllenhaal, Al Pacino, Felicity Jones and Liam Neeson have all dropped by to scarf down ramen, pork buns and sake slushies in between premieres. 190 University Ave., 647-253-6225, momofuku.com.
Bosk Where there’s a pre-theatre prix fixe
18While the Shangri-La’s flagship restaurant is staying mum on which celebs dined there last year, it saw a flurry of star activity in 2015. George Clooney ordered the signature double-patty burger (for whatever reason, he took out the second patty and ate it separately), and, while staying at the hotel, The Martian’s Jessica Chastain indulged in a vegan version of its afternoon tea menu. At just $49, Bosk’s three-course pre-theatre dinner menu could prove to be a popular prix fixe. 188 University Ave., 647-788-8294, shangri-la.com.
Patria Where big stars share small plates
19 Another one of Charles Khabouth’s many swanky spots, Patria’s mouth-watering tapas dishes are like a Spanish siren call to the stars—many of whom are lured in during the film festival. A couple of years ago, Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts swung by after the festival-opening screening of Demolition, and Watts returned a few days later with her About Ray co-star Susan Sarandon and producer Harvey Weinstein for some shared plates. 478 King St. W., 416-367-0505, patriatoronto.com.
La Palma Where the lasagna has more layers than a Hitchcock flick
20Campagnolo, Craig Harding’s Italian restaurant on Dundas West, has always been a favourite of visiting celebs (according to Harding, Will Ferrell ate many plates of pasta there once), so there’s no doubt that his new spot just down the street will be, too. There’s no spaghetti all’amatriciana at the SoCal-inspired space—La Palma’s menu is heavy on lighter veggie and seafood dishes—but for the stars who aren’t carb-averse, there is a little something called 100 Layer Lasagna. (Will Ferrell, take note.) 849 Dundas St. W., 416-368-4567, lapalma.ca.
The Spoke Club Where it pays to be a member
21This members-only lounge and popular industry hangout on King West is once again collaborating with Miami-based restaurant group Villa Azur for a series of TIFF parties. Last year, the Spoke hosted a slew of celebs (Freida Pinto, Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal, Deepa Mehta, Atom Egoyan), and this year should prove no different, what with the fashion show, champagne brunch and rooftop bashes the club has planned. 600 King St. W., 416-368-8448, thespokeclub.com.
Cabana Pool Bar Where the stars can make a splash
22Drake, Will Smith and the Biebs have all dropped in for a dip at this lakeside splash pad for grown-ups, where the slushies are boozy and the dress code is swimwear-chic. Over the past year, Cabana has hosted Kylie and Kendell Jenner’s half-bro Brody, as well as DJs Armin Van Buuren and Afrojack. The cabana packages provide the ultimate in star treatment (including line bypass and free admission, dedicated cabana, towels, bottle service, and catered snacks from Oliver and Bonacini), and start at $1000. 1 Polson St., 416-479-7645, cabanapoolbar.com.
Cibo Wine Bar Where the wine flows like water
23The centrepiece of this 8,000-square-foot restaurant is a massive wine cellar that contains thousands of bottles to pair with the kitchen’s Tuscan-inspired dishes. Last year, Richard Gere grabbed a cocktail here before the screening of Norman, and Gemma Arterton stopped by to dine with the team of The Girl With All the Gifts. In 2015, Cibo fed the cast of The Martian (Ridley Scott, Matt Damon, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, and others) salmon crudo, chianti-braised short ribs and whole, oven-baked branzino. In a total baller move, Scott ordered a 12-litre bottle of supertuscan cabernet sauvignon (we assume he shared it). 522 King St. W., 416-504-3939, cibowinebar.com.
The Chase Where everyone gets a good shuck
24The Financial District’s splashy seafood restaurant has hosted an ocean’s worth of high-profile guests, including our own PM (we wouldn’t be surprised if he sported crustacean-covered socks for the occasion). In TIFF years past, Jessica Chastain, Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallée have all had the pleasure of dining on the restaurant’s surf-and-turf specialties, like lobster cavatelli and a Thai-influenced scallops and pork belly plate. The $150 Diamond Platter (oysters, crab legs, shrimp, tuna, poached lobster) paired with the Chase’s fifth-floor terrace is enough to make anyone feel like a VIP. 10 Temperance St., 647-348-7000, thechasetoronto.com.
Baro Where there’s a password-protected lounge
25There’s no better bait to reel in celebrities than exclusivity, and Steve Gonzalez’s secret lounge in his Latin American club on King West offers just that. The 16,000-square-foot former textile factory is divvied up into four separate areas, including a 90-seat dining room decked out in brass, marble and Amazonian foliage that serves things like ceviche flights; a second-floor raw bar; and Escobar, a “secret” invite-only lounge accessed using a password that changes every night. Just add a couple of margarita pitchers for the perfect after-after-party. 485 King St. W., 416-363-8388, barotoronto.com.