Dinner With a Friend in Yorkville


I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my new necklace from Africa (here) that I had worn out for dinner with my friend Nyla on Friday night.

We went to Yorkville, a part of town that I don’t get to very often these days, but I used to work nearby so know it well. I’m actually a bit haunted when walking through these streets nowadays, as I used to spend a lot of time in this neighbourhood with a dear friend who died suddenly a few years ago.

Back then we were poor students, and mostly walked around and window-shopped … and window-shopped only, as this is the part of the city that is home to the most expensive retail in town! This is where anyone who wears designer clothes would come to shop.

It is also dotted with many restaurants, bars and swanky hotels, many of which have been there for decades, like the yellow one in the picture, called Sassafraz.



So when Nyla suggested we have dinner at a restaurant in Yorkville my wallet groaned a little at the thought. But she said she loved their Fish and Chips, which sounded good to me. I mean, how expensive can a F&C dinner be?

The place was called The Oxley and I checked their site (here) and was happy to see they offered two menus … one, a Bar Menu with less expensive options and the second having delicious sounding selections that would be perfect for (the average person’s) special night out for a birthday or anniversary.

But before talking about our night out, there are a couple of things to say about the area first.

While Yorkville has been a fancy part of town for as long as I’ve known it, this was not always the case. While Toronto was first being established in the early 1800s (yes, we are a very young city based on a worldwide view), it was located along the waterfront of Lake Ontario. And this place Yorkville, was about 3 kilometres (2 miles) from the burgeoning city centre. It was so far away that it was its very own village back then! Where nowadays it takes 13 minutes by subway to get from downtown to Yorkville, back then there were only dirt roads and horses and carriages, so it’s easy to imagine there was some traveling time involved to get between the two.




As Toronto grew to meet this area and the other small villages around it, they were annexed within the city, Yorkville joining in 1883.

Let’s fast forward to the 60s because that’s when the particularly interesting story about Yorkville was. Until then the area had become rundown and inexpensive, becoming the place where the city’s artists, writers and musicians were. It was in the coffee houses of this area that some of Canada’s most famous musicians first played their songs for the public, including Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and Neil Young. Writer Margaret Atwood also hung out in the area. It became the capital of Canada’s hippie movement where bohemian attitudes prevailed and there were poetry readings and love-ins all day and all night long. And I read somewhere that there was quite a bit of nakedness too!

This all changed when the subway was built and the land became more valuable. The artistic community moved down and west, to the Queen Street West area (where Nick and I live now.)

And the most expensive retailers replaced them, making their home in Yorkville.




Another change also happened with the building of the subway … a strip of the original row-houses had to be torn down. In their place, a parking lot was built over the roof covering the new subway tracks. It took more than 30 years of active trying, but the residents in the area, worked very hard to have this parking lot replaced with a park.

The park finally opened in the 90s and has won some awards for its innovative design, incorporating many aspect which represent the diversity of the Canadian landscape. In my pictures I’ve shown the forest, and the gigantic rock. This 600 tonne piece of rock was painstakingly moved, in pieces, to the area from the north (it was part of the glacial shield). To put its scale into perspective, one tonne equals about 2205 pounds, so this piece of rock weighs over 1.3 million pounds. And all that weight it supported on beams over the subway train tunnel running underneath.




And now back to dinner with Nyla on Friday …

So we went to The Oxley and I’m so glad we did, because it is a great place.



It’s a pub style restaurant located in an old row-house that was built between 1870 and 1895. The decor was warm and inviting and the service was very friendly. And the Fish and Chips that we both went for was delicious, served with house-made tartar and tomato sauces.


We began our meal with a cocktail each, a Dark and Stormy for me (which is a rum drink mixed with ginger beer) and a Gin and Tonic for Nyla (which was made with house-made tonic water and had apples in it). To finish, Nyla selected a dessert of Sticky Pudding and I skipped dessert and had a cup of coffee.


We sat, talked and laughed for two and a half hours, without feeling any pressure in the least to move along.

Before leaving we headed upstairs to the powder room where Nyla said a surprise awaited. Well this powder room had its own fancy foyer decorated in such a charming way. Of course, we couldn’t help but snap a few pictures in this little room before saying our goodbyes.




I hope you’re having a great Thursday. It is gorgeous and sunny here right now. I was out walking yesterday and of course, it being mid-October I brought along a jacket. Well, it was so warm out that I had to take it off and go around in a short sleeve tee-shirt. Not to be unglamorous here, but I was sweating when I got home.

Thanks very much for checking out my post.