What are you doing this weekend? The answer is in our Hotspot section, where every Friday, we share favourite spots to sip a cocktail, grab a bite and, come morning, brunch that pesky hangover away. See you there!
🍸 Kabinet – Russia in a Glass
A daytime coffee house and nighttime bar, Kabinet is a Mile End institution. With portraits of Dostoievski on the wall, plush velvet everything and fully stocked shelves (chartreuse and pear eau-de-vie sit pretty next to gin and bitters), this intimate spot is sure to please.
Fresh fruit and herbs plus fine liquors are at the heart of every craft cocktail. The bar offers front-row seats to the show as beyond pro bartenders meticulously pour their talent, creativity and savoir-faire into every drink. The menu changes regularly but a few favourites have earned a permanent spot, including Yukba, a mix of gin, white lillet, green and cilantro; Pimm’s Cup, a fruity and zesty pick made extra-fancy with its cucumber garnish; and, naturally, a Moscow Mule splashed with the liquor of your choice.
The service is attentive, the décor is inspired by Imperial Russia (cool, cozy and luxe—never kitschy) and a laid-back cocktail hour means that this gem remains favourite place to pre-game a night on the town.
🍴Kazu – Good vibes, great food
Forget about sushi because at Kazu, it’s all about the izakaya take on Japanese dining. The menu is pinned to the wall, the dishes are meant to be shared and there is more than enough sake and Japanese beer to go around. Inside, it’s tight quarters. The dining room counts three tiny tables and eight seats at the bar, the kitchen is open (always impressive to watch the pros at work) and you could very well be seated with strangers. Don’t let that turn you off: The festive vibe and efficient service more that makes up for the lack of space.
Classic menu items—which you should really order, BTW—include the shrimp burger (made in-house), the 48-hour marinated pork bowl (heavenly) and the tofu salad (served with mind-blowing homemade kimchi). That being said, there’s no such thing as a bad order at Kazu: Every single dish is prepared with care and precisely balanced flavours that burst in the mouth.
Kazu is open for lunch and dinner. Cash and debit only. And even if there’s a quasi-permanent line-up outside, it’s always worth the wait to eat at this downtown favourite.
🥓 Glamourous Brunch
It’s easy to picture Bar George back in the day, packed with cigar-smoking men sipping bourbon and talking politics. During the ‘60s, George Stephen House was home to a gentlemen’s club. Now, after an epic restoration, the property is back to its former glory, complete with red carpet, sterling silver cutlery and a soft jazz soundtrack. It’s the epitome of elegance—the perfect combination of past and present.
It’s a bar, yes, but also a restaurant with a British-inspired menu concocted by Kevin Ramasawny. At brunch, there are scones, crumpets and bangers. The avocado toast is a sure bet and the eggs benedict are always a favourite. The portions are Goldilocks-approved: Not too big, not too small. Upgrade to British coffee (gin, coffee liqueur, coffee and cream) for the perfect Sunday a.m. treat.