By Alexandra Cohen
It is almost impossible to be bored in Toronto. With its array of permanent and temporary attractions, live performances, major league sports, and the fantastic food scene, you will never run out of things to do.
This summer, I spent a month in downtown Toronto, which was chock-full of entertainment, including a visit to an outdoor pool, some excellent dinners, a concert at Rogers Centre, a play at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, a trip to Toronto Island, and much more.
THE RADISSON BLU: While I did not stay at a hotel while visiting Toronto, I did have the chance to visit the Radisson Blu. With the weather being so warm during my stay, I looked into the options for swimming in the city and came across the Radisson Blu’s rooftop pool, which allows visitors to the city to purchase day passes.
The Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown is conveniently located at 249 Queens Quay West, which is just steps away from the Toronto Harbour and around a five-minute drive from the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Pool Day Passes can be booked via OpenTable. They are $65 per person plus applicable taxes and fees, which include in/out privileges, towels, and service right at your seat. Arrival time is noon and it remains open until 10 pm. For hotel guests, of course, there are no fees associated with going to the pool.
My day at the pool was incredibly relaxing. The water was warm, and I was treated to views of the harbour on one side, and a picturesque view of the CN Tower on the other side. The pool menu features a variety of cocktails and cold beer, as well as snacks and meals that you can enjoy poolside. Options include salads, flatbreads, charcuterie, burgers, bowls, and an array of desserts. I personally enjoyed the all-beef hotdog, which came with several fun accoutrements, and a peach bellini.
The hotel has an elevator that leads to the pool and accessibility for wheelchairs for parking, the restaurant and the registration and concierge desks.
The Radisson Blu Downtown Toronto is part of the Silver Hotel Group (www.silverhotelgroup.com), a leading Canadian privately owned hotel investment, development, and management company, with properties in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.
Log on to the following website for more information: https://www.radissonhotelsamericas.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-blu-toronto
JABISTRO: Looking for some fresh, delicious sushi? JaBistro (https://www.jabistro.com) is a contemporary take on traditional Japanese fine dining, where the dishes are, in a sense, treated like works of art. JaBistro opened its doors in November 2012 in Toronto’s Entertainment District, welcoming guests into its warm and chic space.
Located mere blocks away from the popular Nathan Phillips Square, the modern and sleek restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating. During our visit, my travel partner and I sat on their lovely outdoor patio, which had a nice aesthetic and a dedicated bar. We started with the Yuzu Sunrise and Sakura Cocktail drinks and then went ahead to share several dishes off the menu. The nigiri platter offered us a taste of the chef’s top recommended fish of the day, with each piece tasting better than the one before. Other highlights included the salmon oshizushi, the Jabistroll (the one true maki on the menu), and the Gindara, which is grilled black cod with saikyo miso. Indeed, the restaurant is probably best known for its aburi sushi, with a multitude of different options on the menu, including ebi (shrimp), saba (cured mackerel), hotate (scallop), and wagyu (beef). While we went with an à la carte option for our meal, guests can also choose from various prix fixe options, both at lunchtime and at dinnertime.
JaBistro is part of the Kinka Family, which was founded in 2009 and features a diverse portfolio of restaurants and cafés across Canada and in Japan. You can learn more at www.kinkafamily.com.
From the perspective of handicap accessibility, please note that the rooftop patio is only accessible via stairs. The restaurant entrance is wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs or mobility devices. There are standardized washrooms, minus accessibility features like grab bars or accessible sinks.
JaBistro is located at 222 RICHMOND ST. W., You can call 647.748.0222 or log on to https://www.jabistro.com/ for more information. Hours of operation are 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm Tuesday to Friday and 5 pm to 10 pm Saturday to Monday.
CIBO WINE BAR: There are three Cibo Wine Bar locations in Toronto: 522 King Street West, 2472 Yonge Street and 133 Yorkville Avenue. We were lucky enough to enjoy a delicious meal on the patio on King Street.
This Italian restaurant and wine bar, created by the Liberty Entertainment Group (www.libertygroup.com), offers traditional Italian fare in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. The menu offers guests a true taste of Italian cuisine, featuring both traditional classics and modern staples. Like the food, the space itself is warm and inviting with stone and glass walls, rustic wood finishes, exposed brick, and butcher block tabletop.
Everything here is prepared under the watchful eye of executive chef Laura Petracca, who has been passionate about cooking since an early age. She began by making meatballs and gnocchi with her mother, fettuccine with her nonna, and honing her skills in the kitchen with the foods of her Italian heritage, including an “unforgettable” risotto, which I can confirm was, in my opinion, the highlight of the menu. She worked in multiple kitchens throughout her teens and at the age of 22, she graduated from the Culinary Arts Program at Humber College in Toronto.
During our visit, we were treated to small portions of all of the menu highlights. We started off with the grilled whole calamari, the Mediterranean clams + muscles, which is prepared in a parma broth with crispy shallots and chives, and the funghi dish, which was a delicious combination of grilled portobello, oyster, and cremini mushrooms served with extra-virgin olive oil and truffled balsamic vinegar. For our prime course, we tasted two decadent risottos (the sundried tomato and almost pesto risotto, as well as the porcini mushroom risotto topped with truffle oil. We also got to taste the incredible gnocchi topped with rosé sauce. For our second course, we shared the grilled striploin with lobster compound butter. Other options for this course, which also sounded fantastic, include the pollo parmigiana and the branzino. For dessert, we shared a very authentic-tasting tiramisu.
Cibo King has an accessibility ramp and an accessible restroom, therefore making the patio and main floor accessible.
WHAT’S ON IN TO: There are plenty of other things to do in Toronto! Here is a selection of upcoming attractions that was provided by Destination Toronto (https://www.destinationtoronto.com).
Astor Lounge Botanical Afternoon Tea Pop-up
Till Aug 27
The St. Regis (https://www.marriott.com/en-gb/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/details-1/yyzxr-the-st-regis-toronto/) Botanical Delight Afternoon Tea is available for $95 per person and takes place in Astor Lounge, located lobby-level, from Thursday through Sunday. Whitely Neill gin-tasting flights may be added on for $42. Space is limited and reservations must be booked in advance directly via OpenTable.
Second City Improv Brunch
Till Nov 26
The Second City | 1 York St
Bottoms up at The Second City Mainstage! Join The Second City for some hair-of-the-dog comedy during this totally improvised experience from the city’s finest. We’re serving up all-you-can-stomach laughter! Food and mimosas are available to order separately.
AGO – Feels Like Home
Ongoing until May 2024
Featuring works produced by the creative agency Sunday School, Feels Like Home invites audiences to consider contemporary conversations around the notion of home. Together with artists from across Africa and the diaspora, Sunday School strives to share diverse stories and perspectives that reflect their collaborative ethos.
AGO – Cassatt – McNicoll: Impressionists Between Worlds
Ongoing until Sept 4
This groundbreaking exhibition brings together for the first time the work of two extraordinary women Impressionist painters, Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926) and Helen McNicoll (Canadian, 1879-1915). Renowned for their depictions of modern womanhood, their work had a profound impact on the development and proliferation of Impressionism in North America.
In Bloom: Flowers and Footwear
Ongoing until Oct 6, 2024
One of fashion’s most timeless inspirations, representations of flowers have appeared throughout the centuries to symbolize an assortment of expressions. From spring cherry blossoms as an awakening of new life and new beginnings to the fall-blooming chrysanthemum which symbolizes joy and happiness, floral motifs have been incorporated into textiles and footwear across the globe.
Sept 23 to Dec. 17
From Tudor Queens to Pop Icons, the SIX wives of Henry VIII take the microphone to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a Euphoric Celebration of 21st-century girl power! This new original musical is the global sensation that everyone is losing their head over!
SIX won 23 awards in the 2021/2022 Broadway season, including the Tony Award for Best Original Score (Music and Lyrics) and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.
The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains in Toronto
On the heels of the 50th Anniversary of Pink Floyd’s iconic album, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” Toronto music fans and culture buffs alike will get a backstage pass to the story of Pink Floyd through an audio-visual sensorial journey unlike any other.
Ongoing until Sept 9 (Saturdays only)
Smorgasburg Toronto is back for its second season with more vendors, a bigger
bar, and more dates to accommodate the huge crowds of 10,000+ who attended the market’s
eight 2022 dates. Now a partnership with Collective Concerts, Toronto’s largest independent
concert promoter and local event producer, this summer Smorgasburg Toronto will showcase
more than 60 food vendors—some for six-week runs, some for all 12 dates—on the scenic harbourfront over 12 Saturdays.
Sept 7 to 17
The Toronto International Film Festival will be back in September for its 48th edition. Enjoy 11 days of international and Canadian cinema, special events and celebrity moments. September 2023.