A charming bohemian niche that still marches to the beat of its own drum, Kensington’s global flavours and eclectic mix of restaurants, eateries and sweet shops make it a tasty layover as you hop from here to there during the festival.

By Anna Cipollone

HIDDEN HAVEN


Cold Tea’s newest expansion is Juanmoto, an Asian/South American menu from chef Leemo Han, adding to his empire of Hanmoto, Seoul Shakers, Pinky’s Ca Phe and Oddseoul. Tucked away in the Kensington Mall with a red light signalling it’s open for business, the space remains tricky to find, just like the after-hours bars of yesteryear. Sharing snacks like tofu guacamole and ceviche sit side-by-side with sandwiches like the Sloppy José. Local brews from Blood Brothers and Halo are featured as well as Cold Tea’s standard cocktail selection. Rows upon rows of lucky cats wave their paws to welcome guests,
and a secluded back patio is the sweetest summer safe haven anyone could ask for.

 

MEDITERRANEAN TAPAS


The tapas and cocktail bar Bonafide embodies a distinctly European style— the kind of place you can casually drop by the patio or stay late into the evening. Chef Giancarlo Carnevale prepares Mediterranean- inspired dishes: you’ll find mussels, ceviche, calamari and shrimp fritti and garlic bread on the seafood board, while the chicken lollipop fried drumlettes are served with a smoked jalapeno mayo. The interior artwork was created for the space by Rachel Sardella. Try an iced frappé, or something from the cocktail bar like the rosé sangria or aperitivo sour — and if you’re in the mood for oysters, buck-a-shuck is on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 to 10 p.m.

PARIS MEETS JAPAN


A tiny gem serving French desserts made from Japanese-inspired ingredients, Little Pebbles Cafe specializes in cannelé — a pastry that originated in the Bordeaux region. Using carefully chosen ingredients, including ceremonial-grade matcha and Japanese johakuto sugar, they’re baked in Japanese copper molds with local Ontario beeswax to create that signature sheen and crackling outer crust. The cannelés here are made in house in a range of delicate avours like vanilla rhum and earl grey.

TOO CUTE TO EAT?


The delightful Daan Go bakery, from pastry chef (and former MasterChef Canada contestant) Christopher Siu, is home to his signature kawaii-cute macarons and playful French desserts. Siu’s darling little treats are almost too adorable to eat, but the delicate craftsmanship is a joy to indulge in. A collection of popular Japanese character macarons like Totoro, Pikachu and Hello Kitty are always in the shop, or opt for the playful Tira-Meow-Su, an edible chocolate cup topped with a marshmallow cat and cold brewed espresso syrup. The Zen Cake is a beautiful balance of Uji matcha sourced from Kyoto, adzuki bean jam and black sesame chiffon.

PARTY INSPO


You’ll find everything for the cocktail aficionado inside Cocktail Emporium, a little pink retro number on Kensington Avenue. With vibrant neon signage, the space is a gallery with rotating displays of stunning vintage glassware, Tiki bar accessories, an impressive selection of bitters and all sorts of attractive bar paraphernalia that doubles as an homage to elegant 1960s decor. From rose gold cocktail shakers and other bar tools like jiggers and muddlers alongside shelves of bitters for every occasion, find inspo for what to serve at your next poppin’ pre-party.

BERLIN COMFORT FOOD


The unassuming Otto’s Berlin Döner focuses on savoury German street eats—the döner and currywurst to be exact. The döner sandwich was inspired by a Turkish kabob; in this version, veal, lamb, chicken, halloumi or veggie fillings are served inside panini flatbread with cabbage, tomatoes, onions and fries. This German comfort food is best enjoyed in a lively, casual setting like Otto’s with a refreshing German brew, cider or glass of wine for a temporary escape to late-night Berlin.

SEASONAL SAKES


Koi Koi Sake Bar is an intimate Japanese sake bar carrying an impressive selection of whiskey, beer, cocktails and, of course, rice wine. Specializing in rare sake imported from Japan, it’s the first of its kind in Toronto. Owners Linda Dang and Nancy Young found inspiration for the restaurant’s interiors in Hanafuda cards, or “flower cards,” and translated the distinct sakura theme to the decor. There are 16 types of sake on the menu, or opt for a seasonal sake in 100 ml, 300 ml or 700 ml servings. The Onna Yokai is a pale pink cocktail of rose syrup, vodka, lime juice and shochu, while the Kyoto is a fine mix of tequila, Triple Sec, wasabi, lemon juice and citron syrup.