Do you ever find that when you try to do anything productive in your house, you always just end up reading arbitrary Wikipedia pages and back-articles from Pitchfork? Does the combination of rumbling roommates, a cat that's always doing something weird and having all of your personal belongings in one spot make accomplishing things a grotesque ordeal? Do you ever just need to get the fuck out of your pad? Well, if you live in a shit-hole in North York, this would definitely ring true. Living downtown, on the other hand, is a whole new bushel of apples, with all kinds of shit to do and places to work or hang. Every month, the Steel Bananas folk venture out into the city to check out what Toronto has to offer to present you with a couple of sweet spots with fierce lattes and good vibes. Cafes are fucking wicked.
913 Dundas West @ Bellwoods
I have to say, I’ve never been totally convinced that Ezra Pound was all that messianic as he’s sometimes made out to be - fascism aside. Let’s be honest here, we all did some things we weren’t proud of during the war, but having made that clear, Ezra Pound always seemed like he’d be a pretty big douche even if he weren’t all up in Mussolini’s grill. I’m not sure if I was expecting to be treated to a cup of coffee with a side of Doom, or a room full of people speaking entirely in offhand Imagiste remarks in numerous languages, but I suppose it wasn’t that much of a surprise, now that I think of it, that all of the people at Ezra’s Pound were, like, the nicest people ever. Why shouldn’t they be? It is only a name after all and when asked, the owner, whose name happens to be Ezra, shrugged off my harsh line of questioning with a we-had-to-call-it-something chuckle and eye-roll.
It was almost overwhelming how abundantly nice everyone is at Ezra’s Pound; god damn. I ordered a latte and was in turn ordered to sit down only to have my coffee brought to me literally on a silver platter with a glass of water – charming! Actually it was kind of awkward, but I nevertheless appreciated the gesture. And the coffee itself was most delish; just the right amount of bitter and OH MY GOD THE GIRL JUST CAME BY AND TOPPED OFF MY WATER FROM A VINTAGE-LOOKING BOTTLE AND ASKED ME HOW MY COFFEE WAS, WILL THE QUAINTNESS NEVER END?!?!?!
“It was phenomenal,” I said, and she ambled off all smiley.
So according to the man Ezra, all of the countertops and tables and chairs and stuff are all made of recycled junk (I’m sitting on an old church pew right now, which is making me feel a little weird on account of being, you know, kind of a heathen and all – Ezra was all like JUSTTHINKOFIT-PEOPLEPRAYEDRIGHTWHEREYOU’RESITTING-PRAYED – weird) and there’s this naked mannequin in the corner that I guess is pretty cool. Also he was telling me about all of the organic milk and coffee that they use and his totally un-fascist approach to business and business ethics and if I hadn’t just met him half an hour ago, I would have probably given him a hug for being a friggin’ rad dude.
Anyway, Ezra’s Pound is a totally cool and highly recommended café where you can grab a badass cup of coffee on recycled furniture with some obscenely nice people and them head on over to Bellwoods park for a leisurely toss of the old Frisbee, which I know I could seriously go for right about now.
So go give Ezra a high-five and tell ‘em Curran sent ya.
426 College Street (College & Bathurst)
I must have seen this coffee shop from the streetcar window thousands of times before I actually ventured in - oddly, almost every time I ambled down to Sneak's for a heaping guilt-free platter of nachos, I eyed the dark closed shop and made disorganized mental notes to head over there for a latte. Heading back from work last week in the rain, I eyed the shop from a packed streetcar and finally made a point to hop off and stop in; burning out from my from my morning's large Americano and doused by a May storm.
Located across from Sneaky Dee's, Plaza Flamingo and one of the only goddamn Royal Banks close to my apartment, Manic Coffee has a sweet location and an even sweeter vibe, as I quickly learned upon entering. With mod decor that resists the we-want-to-be-indie-so-bad-we've-ended-up-looking-kitsch aesthetic, Manic's tasteful space sports natural palettes and an understated retro feel. With a totally stacked magazine rack at the front of the shop, exposed brick, soft music playing, and black and white framed photos adorning the walls, the whole vibe of the place is totally cool and relaxing, setting an inviting atmosphere that motivates patrons - new and regular - to the hit up the counter.
The staff was great - not too hip to be friendly, and ready to crack jokes and chat with the customers. I paid my $3.90, grabbed my latte (complete with beautiful steamed-milk design) and sat on the long bench at the front of the shop to sample their coffee. It was awesome. With a roast that was entirely full-bodied and bold without being bitter, the coffee had just the right amount of sweetness and a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. The milk was steamed to perfection, swirled into a perfectly symmetrical heart - a pretty drink for a stormy day.
At 5:00pm on Thursday when I hit up the shop, I was surprised to see that they still had an abundance of baked goodies, - muffins, croissants, sandwiches and wraps - as well as juices and water in a starbucks-esque case beside the counter. Considering that most independent coffee shops in Toronto only offer minimal snack-fare, if any, this shop is an awesome find for those of us who like juice with their java or a muffin with their mocha. Alright, I'll stop.
Manic has all the amenities of a chain coffee joint, but boasts the local feel and laid-back atmosphere of an indie op. I'd totally recommend checking it out.