Theatres aren’t the only establishments seeing their seats filled during Toronto’s 35th annual International Film Festival (TIFF). A sizably salacious portion of the event takes place in other darkened rooms: Hogtown’s internationally-renowned eateries.
Whether it be taking time out to reenergize, as a destination to entertain press or commemorate their latest work’s successful reception, celebrities are also sampling Toronto’s culinary delicacies. It’s during these superstar-approved visits that some of our finest eateries have solidified their renown, as a high-profile thumbs-up during TIFF generates the requisite buzz/paparazzi/curiosity that follows for the ensuing year. So where exactly are the best bets for some entertainment with your meal?
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Expectedly, posh district Yorkville remains a focal point for TIFF dining. Conjecture is that Bistro 990 (990 Bay St., operating with extended hours), Sotto Sotto (116 Avenue Rd.) and Sassafraz (100 Cumberland St.) will remain hot, running “business as usual … but it’s great business,” as the latter’s general manager, Jean-Valery Lacasse notes.
Altering dynamics slightly, however, the festival’s new epicentre the Bell Lightbox (330 King St. W) brings attention to the city core, despite TIFF hosting the seventh annual Supper Club up at The Windsor Arms’ Prime Restaurant (18 Saint Thomas St.). This event finds Robert DeNiro, Ed Norton, Helena Bonhamn Carter and Philip Seymour Hoffman enjoying meals from chefs, including Food Network’s Alex Guarnaschelli.
Back up at festival mainstay Pangaea (1221 Bay St.), co-owner Peter Geary reveals a down-to-earth approach regarding TIFF many restaurants are fostering. They will not be altering their esteemed cuisine at the risk of disappointing patrons.
“We’re maintaining our seasonal menu,” he states. “If that’s what helped build our reputation, we’ll stick with it.”
Catching the stars
Pangaea co-owner Peter Geary notes, sometimes where stars eat at TIFF is more popular than the artists’ red carpet appearances.
They’re an impromptu place for fans to snag shots and autographs or simply gawk while the glamorous nosh. How will we know where the stars are dining? Thank social networking.
“We know things like Twitter, Facebook and smart phones disseminate information through channels quickly,” he states.
“Last year, we had 70 or 80 people standing outside the restaurant by the time of two guests’ departure. It will be interesting to see how social networking impacts the event when celebrities come to dine.”