A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about Doors Open Toronto and the excitement I felt at being a tourist in my own city. Toronto is a big place and has definitely come into its own as a world class city. With its many ravines, vast greenery and its setting on the north shore of Lake Ontario I really think that Toronto is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I have explored many parts of Toronto, but with such a rich mix of cultures, neighbourhoods and urban spaces there is always a new spot downtown for me to explore. With the first big heat wave of the season upon us, we decided, with my parents, to escape the oppressive temperatures on Sunday afternoon and head down to the waterfront. With the beaches closed because of excessive amounts of rain and too many crowds around places like Harbourfront, my parents suggested we try a new spot downtown (new for us) and have dinner at Against the Grain.
This restaurant sits inside Corus Quay, on the east side of Queen’s Quay. As you approach the area it looks quite industrial and there seems to be an infinite number of cranes dotting the skyline. I saw signs for many developers, building both condos and tall office towers. With a dense downtown core, it makes sense that the skyscrapers are spreading out in this direction.
The waterfront in this part of the city is simple and beautiful. It is anchored by Sugar Beach, which on the surface is the most bizarre beach I have ever seen. It is sandy, it has adorable pink umbrellas and it sits on the water’s edge. But there is a boardwalk between the beach and the water with no water access (except for a cute maple leaf shaped splash pad). A massive industrial boat is moored in the water beside this beach, and with the amount of industry in that area I don’t think anyone would actually want to take a dip in Lake Ontario right there. So, I guess it’s okay that it’s actually a lakeless beach.
The boardwalk is relatively small in that area, but it is wide, clean and provides pedestrians a great view of Lake Ontario, the Toronto Islands and the city’s skyline. We got a table at the edge of the patio, so we were lucky to enjoy these sweeping views as we dug into our dinner.
Any restaurant that has a mix of sophisticated flavours, traditional classics and a kids’ menu is a winner for me. My son was thrilled with his pizza and French fries and my daughter couldn’t believe her luck when a plate of cheesy nachos with guacamole was placed in front of her. I was thrilled to see a Moroccan dish on the menu and enjoyed my roasted carrot tagine. The happiest person at the table was the baby who couldn’t get enough of my tagine!
Sitting on the patio, overlooking the lake, was so delightful, especially with the 21-degree temperature at the water’s edge (as opposed to 30 degrees in the centre of the city). A light breeze even picked up as we finished dinner and did another walk around the boardwalk. The kids loved running on the giant rocks around Sugar Beach, playing hide and seek around the giant planters and just being kids. It was wonderful to take advantage of the beautiful weather and to discover a new spot downtown as a tourist in my own city.