Showbizzers seem to flock to reliable haunts during the Toronto festival, and the city’s dynamic hospitality scene means attendees can check out new places and updated spaces without straying too far from the action.
Executive Lunch: Café Boulud at the Four Seasons Hotel
Speed is of the essence during TIFF. At Café Boulud, from restaurateur-chef Daniel Boulud, the lunch menu is designed for those who need to be in and out in 45 to 60 minutes. The rotisserie chicken salad is new to the menu; a labor-intensive Foie Gras au Torchon is a recent addition to the charcuterie list. Past guests are a who’s who of show business: Taylor Schilling, hometown hero Drake, Idris Elba, and Gwyneth Paltrow have all settled into one of Café Boulud’s wraparound banquettes at some time.
60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6000, cafeboulud.com/Toronto
Modern Italian: Figo
Figo’s pastel-on-white interiors are an attractive background for chef Anna Chen’s contemporary Italian comfort food. Pastas and pizzas are house-made; the zucchini fritti starter — ribbons of zucchini in a light batter topped with drips of honey and lemon fresca — has wowed diners since the restaurant’s opening last November. At weekend brunch, pancakes are topped with mascarpone and maple syrup. Traditional egg dishes make an appearance too. The location, half a block from the Lightbox, is highly convenient for TIFF attendees.
295 Adelaide St. W., 647-748-3446, figotoronto.com
Sparkle Aplenty: Azure at the InterContinental Toronto Centre
The InterContinental hums with activity during TIFF. Azure, off the lobby, is a reliable perch for talent-spotting due to the numerous press junkets on site. While people-watching or exec-stalking, indulge in a TIFF Sparkler cocktail, a blend of made-in-Canada ingredients, including Kew sparkling wine (from the Niagara wine region), Trius Icewine, Chambord, and raspberry.
225 Front St. W., 416-597-1400, torontocentre.intercontinental.com
High Demand: Luma Restaurant
Luma is the place to watch the comings and goings of festgoers within the Lightbox. Busy throughout the festival, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. until late. Manhattans and martinis are the specialty cocktails; there’s a selection of Canadian beers on tap, and vegetarians can count on the soup of the day, as well as more sophisticated options.
TIFF Bell Lightbox, 2nd Floor, 350 King St. West, Reitman Square, 647-288-4715, lumarestaurant.com
Seafood Palace: Miku Toronto
The upscale Vancouver export features aburi-style (flame-seared) sushi and a wide array of seafood from platters of oysters, mussels, and clams to butter-poached lobster. Entrance is through the RBC Waterpark Place lobby. Both lunch and dinner are served; an innovative kaiseki multi-course menu is offered on hand-made pottery from Japan.
10 Bay Street #105 (at Queen’s Quay), 647-347-7347, mikutoronto.com
Scene-Stealer: Lobby Bar, Thompson Toronto
Canadian whiskies get a star turn at the newly renovated Lobby Bar within the ultra-chic hotel. The bar is now divided into three parts with a private event space complete with 60-sq.-ft. HD media wall. A graphic stylized mural of the Toronto skyline is the focal point; patrons will love the built-in power strips at the bar. TIFF-themed cocktails include The Six Shooter inspired by the fest’s opening-night film “The Magnificent Seven.”
550 Wellington St. W. 416-601-3554, thompsonhotels.com
Lifestyle Shopping: Drake General Store
Three floors of super-cool merchandise, international brands — including a Uniqlo pop-up during TIFF — imported beauty products, and Canadian specialty foods are to be found at the newly opened Drake General Store across from the Drake Hotel. There are also a mini-café and coffee bar, serving gelato and vegan donuts. Pressed juices are here too, for those who exist on nothing else. Need a quick trim? The Crow’s Nest Barber Shop is open within the exceedingly hip store-meets-diner-meets event space.
Drake General Store: 1151 Queen St. W., 647-346-0742, drakegeneralstore.ca