Better know a Neighborhood is Apartment613’s knockoff homage to Stephen Colbert’s famed Better Know a District. Our goal is simple: find and write about interesting parts of the city. For the first part of this not-so-innovative series, we headed to West Wellington Village (or Hintonburg, we’re never quite sure). For our encore we went to the oasis of hipness nestled on the border of deepest, darkest Vanier.
|Fraser Cafe – 7 Springfield Road
Katie – I think I’m in love… usually I balk at a two egg breakfast over $4, but this was worth the extra cash. It was nice to hear that the Cafe’s move to a larger space (they now seat 62) has paid off. Definitely on my must brunch list.
Ryan – I really miss the grilled cheese sandwich they used to have on the brunch menu. It was freak’in good. Roasted tomatoes and mushrooms (I think). The brunch is amazing grilled cheese or not. The Huevos Rancheros wasn’t my favourite thing though. I’d go for the fish next time.
François – To me, the Fraser Cafe remains the primary reason to return to Beechwood again and again. Every week, the brunch menu offers a different smoked fish with bagels. It’s always to die for.
|Dale Smith Gallery –137 Beechwood Avenue & Voix Visuelle – 81 Beechwood Ave
Katie – Dale Smith (pictured left) was a great gallery… I saw lots of stuff that I liked, and although the pieces were quite different from each other they had a similar feel. Plus the owner was super nice! It seems like the kind of place you can walk into and start up a conversation about arts.
François – Every self-respecting neighborhood needs a good art gallery or two and these lead the way in New Edinburgh. Granted, Voix Visuelle is much different from Dale Smith in that it’s an artist centre more than an art gallery. Until recently, the gallery showcased the work of José Luis Torres, a piece showcasing the “precarious space configuration that traces the accidental outlines of a spontaneous landscape.” Now, that is art.
Ryan – Dale Smith was a cool little spot and the chat with the owner was nice. The gallery will have Jonathan Hobin this fall – a show I am really looking forward to.
|ZaZaZa – 143 Putman Ave
Katie – Fried egg, pickle, humus… on a pizza? It’s either genius or just plain eccentric. As soon as I saw the menu I almost regretted having already filled up at the Cafe, until I remembered that I could come back. I think the aptly named Scarry Roomate pie (kraft dinner, hot dogs, cheddar, parmesan) needs to be tasted to be believe.
François – Manager Caitlin (pictured left) was super friendly once she figured out that we weren’t spies bent on stealing her idea (boy was she wrong). She’s pretty confident she’s got the best pizza in town…only one way to find out!
Ryan – It’s tough to talk about a restaurant where we didn’t eat, but this does seem like it would be worth a trip (and almost had us contemplating a dinner in Beechwood that evening). The price point of the place also seemed reasonable, which is refreshing.
|Studio Four30 – 30 Marier Avenue
François – A great discovery that just happened to have a wine and cheese event the afternoon we walked by. It’s a space for professional and amateur photographers alike. They rent their space so if you’re interested in booking check out their website.
Katie – I think this picture captures the spirit of Beechwood… a working class neighborhood with a gentrified veneer slowly coming into focus. The picture was taken outside of Studio Four30, a new full service photography studio. Apparently they do a lot of work with modeling agencies… I had no idea there were any in town!
Ryan – This place was a bit odd to me, but I guess it’s probably indicative of the type of businesses that can locate here. The rent is likely more reasonable allowing for some innovation.
|The Shrine House – Ask around for the house with the virgins
Katie: This place is crazy! The owners have gone all out to turn their front lawn into a shrine for… we’re not quite sure what. Lots of nativity scenes and baby Jesuses, but also mickey mouse figurines and other toys. I can’t even imagine what they do for xmas.
Ryan – I love a good Virgin Mary.
|Neighborhood gossip – Some place on Beechwood
François: Seems like the neighbourhood needs a bit of work in some areas. This is beyond gritty. Lazy business owners or what? Anyone know what’s happening with this row of empty businesses?
Katie: Well, you didn’t hear it from me, but I heard that the owner was just letting them get run down and won’t rent them out for some reason. Some of the neighbors feel that its holding the development of the the neighborhood back.
Ryan – It’s not that the entire street needs to be a shiny marvel of yuppie-dom, but landlords should have some responsibility to keep a standard of up-keep (in fact I assume they do).
|Arturo’s – 49 Beechwood
Francois: We ended up at Arturo’s in the middle of the afternoon so the place wasn’t exactly bumpin’ and we did not get to try their food. Apparently they make dynamite paninis and sandwhiches. Their lemonade was the perfect boon for the summer heat.
Ryan: if you’re looking for a recommendation the owner’s pick was the “Spicy Arturo.” They’ve got another renovation planned that should give the place less of a take-out-counter feel. Everything is made on-site.
|Epicuria – 419 Mackay Street
Katie – Nothing says gentrification like a fancy food store… I accidentally stole a cookie here. They shouldn’t put the sample bowl so near to the other stuff!
Ryan – even better is when you can connect with the owner on twitter. Follow Tracey Blackat @epicuriadotca. She might even let you know the specials…
|Isobel’s Cupcake – 117 Beechwood Avenue
Francois – Possibly the best cupcake store in the city? I’ve heard that more than once about Isobel’s. After trying out one of their cupcakes, I’ve got to agree. They also sell delicious and original looking cookies and other candies.
Katie – A best Cupcake post may be in order… oh wait we already did one. Still, I wonder how Isobel’s would face off against the Flour shoppe or Aunty Loo’s?
Ryan: I think this was also one of the first cupcake shops in the city – so they should probably get some first-mover advantage.