Over the past few years Ossington Avenue, once the heart of ‘Little Portugal’ running north of Queen Street West just beyond Dundas West, has transitioned from the scary turf of feuding Vietnamese gangs into a fashionable feast of music, fashion, food and drink. In fact, it’s blossomed into a such a popular mecca of fun the city placed a moratorium on new liquor licences last year while Gucci recently posted the street as a go-to destination on its IPhone App. Wow!
What I love about Ossington Avenue is that the streetscape still looks a bit rough and tumble, with enough of a residue of its former gritty working class glory that there’s a sense of place markedly different from anywhere else in our increasingly sanitized downtown core. When you’re walking on Ossington you feel a vibe that is distinct from anywhere else in Toronto….somewhere that feels, dare I say, American! Gasp! I love it.
And what better a destination than Ossington Avenue to introduce the Toronto I adore to a new arrival from Vancouver! Steve and his partner, whom I met through one of my best pals during my visit out west in September, are relocating to Toronto as is near-essential for many career-pathing Canadians. To ease their fear of coming to Hogtown, I’m taking the initiative to demonstrate how amazing Toronto is to call Home.
For our first adventure I chose martinis at The Ossington followed by dinner at Union Restaurant. Here’s 2 pics of The Ossington from their website. It’s a relaxed space with great tunes and engaging service.
What I adore about Union Restaurant is that, from the moment one arrives, the servers and sommelier are committed to ensuring your experience is perfectly tailored to your palate. We tasted a selection of wines to find the one that suited us best, and then savoured their Charcuterie with homemade mustards and pickles, a sensational Pasta Carbonara and the fall-off-the-bone Sticky Ribs with fites and scalloped potatoes. Yum!
At Union, both the bar and dining space are warm and inviting, with a decor that’s vintage authentic with a dash of modern and some intriguing fittings, including the very cool communal handbasin in the lower level:
These are two examples of over two dozen establishments on Ossington Avenue that make this one very special destination!
The Ossington at 61 Ossintgon
Union Restaurant at 72 Ossington
Here’s a 2009 Toronto Life article that provides a fairly accurate (if slightly outdated) listing of the Ossington strip.