Restaurateur Jen Agg of MICHELIN Bib Gourmand–recognized Grey Gardens shares her favourite spots in the city.
With five spots in the west end and one more on the way, Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg is the name behind some of the city’s most popular places to dine.
So it’s no wonder that when asked to share her favourite local spots, Agg focused mainly on places in the city’s west end, close to her many restaurants. Here’s how Agg would spend a laid-back weekend in Toronto.
But first, coffee (and food)
To start the day the right way, Agg heads to Sam James Coffee Bar (Harbord Street and Brock Avenue) for a cup of her favourite coffee in the city. If she’s in the east end, she’ll swing by Morning Parade Coffee Bar in Gerrard Street East, which also serves Sam James coffee.
Agg dines most often at her own restaurants, spending most days bouncing between Grey Gardens, Le Swan French Diner, Bar Vendetta, Rhum Corner and Cocktail Bar. But when she’s off duty, you can find her at nearby restaurants like Imanishi, Foxley or grabbing takeout sushi from Oroshi.
Take a stroll through the city
When it comes to stretching her legs, Agg enjoys the 8 km (5 mi) loop from her downtown home along Strachan Avenue to the lakefront’s Trillium Park. For a shorter walk, Agg recommends strolling Trinity Bellwoods Park, one of the liveliest places to picnic in the warmer months.
Agg says she loves to explore the city in the dark.
“I like walking around at night a lot,” explains the restaurateur. “You can really see a neighbourhood that way, and maybe something interesting catches your eye, and you go in and have a nice time.”
For Agg, some evening walks end up at one of her favourite bars within walking distance of her restaurants.
“If I end up at a bar, it’s probably Communist’s Daughter or Black Dice, and yes, I occasionally enjoy a cocktail at my spot Cocktail Bar,” says Agg. “I also love the sake list at Mehls and Midfield for a nice bottle of wine.”
Shopping and picnic supplies
Agg spends her spare time doing most of her errands near work and home. “I love that little block [Queen Street West, east of Shaw Avenue] where you can pop around the corner for spices [at Spice Trader] or books at Type Books and maybe dart across the street if you want a fancy Cumbrae’s steak,” she explains.
“I get almost all my produce at the Trinity Bellwoods Farmer’s Market and fill whatever holes that pop up during the week at my local vegetable store called Fresh Fruit Market on College Street, Festival for Italian staples and Grace Meats. Between those three spots, I don’t really need a big grocery store.” (And neither will travellers seeking to load up for an urban picnic at a Toronto park.)
For clothing, the chef remains close to her buy-local ethos. “I buy clothes at Horses Atelier a lot—big fan,” explains Agg.
Pick up Jen Agg’s memoir “I Hear She’s A Real Bitch” at local bookstores, and visit her MICHELIN Bib Gourmand–recognized restaurant Grey Gardens, plus Le Swan French Diner, Bar Vendetta, Rhum Corner and Cocktail Bar.