Last Monday, just before noon, I was sitting in an undershirt and pj shorts at my computer when Nick came in to invite me to tag along on a trip he had to make uptown in the car. He thought we could have lunch at this neat place from his past, that he had shown me last year, and which had left a lasting impression.
I didn’t have to be asked twice and popped up, quickly made myself presentable, and dashed out the door, to meet him already waiting in the car. Then we drove east and north for about 20 minutes, parked, and walked over to the restaurant, only to find it was closed on Mondays.
‘Now what?’ we wondered. Neither of us knew of any other good places up in that part of town so considered a few places that were tried-and-true around our place but with food back at the house, we didn’t really need to go out for lunch.
We got back in the car, and went to take care of the reason Nick had to go up there in the first place. While I was waiting in the car I remembered an interesting place that I’d heard about and wanted to see, that was on the way back downtown. I wasn’t certain if there would be food there, but assumed there would be something.
The place is called Evergreen Brick Works, and is the sight of an old factory that had supplied the first bricks used to build the buildings of Toronto. Situated in the valley of the Don River (that runs south through the city, east of the core), it was a place that had a natural deposit of clay that was left in this one-time glacial river thousands of years ago. So in the early days of the city, in 1889, they began making bricks there. At the time, the place was well beyond the outskirts of town.
They produced bricks for 100 years, during which the city grew right around this factory. Then in 1984 the factory was closed and abandoned. For more than 2 decades it apparently became a place to be visited by curious explorers, partiers and photographers.
While anyone living in the city would have driven right by it during the 20 years it had been closed down, most people had no idea it was even there.
Then a few years ago a group called Evergreen, working with the city, turned the area into a showcase for sustainable green living within a big city. Evergreen Brick Works was named one of the top 10 geotourism destinations in the world by National Geographic in 2010.
I have always wanted to check it out, but just never got there since we don’t drive much and the only way to get there seems to be by car.
So that’s where we went for lunch. We pretty well had the place to ourselves because it was the first day after 5 days of the area being closed to the public, because it had all been flooded out during the major rainstorms we’ve recently had. They had done a great job of cleaning everything up because we really couldn’t tell.
We enjoyed a really good lunch in their restaurant, called Cafe Belong, where everything they serve is sustainable, local and organic. And, based on what we had, delicious.
The waitress took her time and explained the origin of many of the menu items. Nick went for the burger (and was told exactly which farm the beef came from), and I had the Goats’ Milk Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich and a small bowl of Leek and Jerusalem Artichoke soup. To drink I had blueberry-lemonade and Nick had some raspberry iced-tea.
Since we really had no idea what we were going to find when we visited The Brick Works, we didn’t leave ourselves enough time to explore all there is to see there, but we did take a little walk around after lunch.
To give you a feel for how close this beautiful touch of nature is to downtown, here is a picture of the CN Tower taken from there. (This tower is more-or-less at the heart of things.)
Here’s a shot taken from the car going home …
It was really quite lovely. We both felt like we were on vacation for a few hours!
I can’t wait to go back and see more of what is there.
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