Close to Home : Checking out a New / Old Restaurant

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We stayed close to home for this one, our neighbourhood on Queens Street West, known as Trinity Bellwoods.

I recently showed you a picture of our previous home, (in this post), a large historic house in which Nick and I rented an apartment when we first moved in together. It was located near John Street and Queen Street West, and we loved it there. However, after we were there for a year, our landlord decided he was going to sell the building, so we had to find a new place to live. He offered it to us to purchase, but it was huge, divided into three separate apartments and we were pretty certain we didn’t want to become landlords ourselves.

So we began looking for another home. The easy part of the search was deciding where this new home would be — we both agreed that we wanted to stay somewhere along Queen Street West, preferably further west than where we’d been.

Back then (15 years ago – yikes!) this would not have been everyone’s choice, as the area was known to be a rough, somewhat rundown one. But we weren’t deterred by the neighbourhood’s reputation, because we both knew exactly what to expect there. This move would be the third time I would live there — I’d spent a summer home from university, renting part of a house with friends, on a street called Crawford, and then lived there again, renting an apartment with an absent roommate (so basically on my own), shortly after finishing school. Nick had been renting a room in a house right in the heart of things, at Queen and Bathurst when we met.

It wasn’t easy finding our forever home, and we searched for six months (our landlord had graciously given us plenty of notice). But we eventually did, and have been very happy here.

A whole lot has changed in the years we’ve lived here, but some places have’t changed at all. One of those places was a restaurant called Swan. It’s not that we went there overly often, since we’re both very keen home-cooks so save eating out for treats, special occasions and times out with friends, but that beautiful old red, black and white sign hanging out front was a comforting sight signalling “home”. We’d become very used to seeing it and were sad to hear the restaurant was closing in the spring, after having been in business for 18 years.

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Over the summer, we’d walk by the old place, with its windows covered in paper and wonder what would replace it. But, strangely, the exterior stayed the same for months, and it looked like there was some action going on behind those blocked out windows.

Then, lo and behold, it reopened in July. It was still called Swan but now had the addition of “Rose and Sons” to the name — a chef and restaurateur, Anthony Rose, had taken over the space.

As expected, changes were made to the menu, and things inside were repaired and cleaned up, but Swan was to live on in the neighbourhood. Not only does it look the same from the outside, we saw for ourselves when we went for lunch last week, that it maintains the same look on the inside too. They kept the vintage diner interior, with its row of booths with their orange Formica topped tables, and a row of stools at the counter.

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I wasn’t familiar with Anthony Rose before he took over Swan, making it Rose and Sons Swan, but have now read that he has taken over several old restaurant spaces in Toronto, kept the charming vintage aspects of them, and moved in with a new menu and staff. He has been very successful so far, and plans to keep doing what he’s been doing. He’s already done it 4 times now and has plans for another transformation in the works.

In keeping with the chef’s roots in cooking, the new-old restaurant features a California style menu. To see exactly what that means, you can check out the menus on their site (linked above).

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The beer Pilsner Urquell will always remind me of my friend Andrea, who introduced me to it when she made Nick and I a Czech dinner (written about here), to celebrate her heritage. When it was offered as a choice at lunch, that’s what I went with.

To eat, Nick had the burger and I the BLT. Both were served on focaccia bread and both were tasty, indeed.

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After lunch we took a stroll around our beloved neighbourhood with its old buildings and beautiful park, and further reinforced the notion that we’re not looking for anywhere new to live.

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Thanks very much for dropping over. Hope you’re having a good week.
xo loulou

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