The Best Restaurants with Gluten Free Options (Near Yonge & Bloor)

 

The Best Restaurants with Gluten Free Options (Near Yonge & Bloor)

 

Many people avoid gluten. Whether it is the due to celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, a wheat allergy or for other reasons, there are a growing number of people actively looking for great tasting alternatives. If you’re avoiding gluten, you’re in luck! It has never been easier to find delicious gluten free food. The chances are, no matter where you live, you can find a restaurant that has at least one meal option for this dietary restriction. The tricky part can be finding a place that has more than one. We want to give you a few solid options, so here are three of the best restaurants with gluten free menu items near Yonge and Bloor in Toronto. These establishments won’t make you feel like you’re missing out on anything.

 

Lola’s Kitchen

Photo courtesy of Lola’s Kitchen

Photo courtesy of Lola’s Kitchen

 

Lola’s Kitchen is located in a charming Victorian mansion at 634 Church Street. It’s easy to get to, but just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Bloor Street. A visit to Lola’s feels like you’re coming home, or to a friend’s place. The interior is elegant and understated, but still warm and inviting. The chairs are comfortable and you get the feeling that you’re being taken care of. “Lola’s Kitchen has always offered gluten free options because our community is diverse and has complex needs!”, says General Manager, Spencer Reynolds. Lola’s Kitchen is a “from scratch kitchen”.

 

We pride ourselves on using small batches. With the exception of bread and desserts, we make everything in house! We even make our own ketchup.

Spencer recommends trying something from Lola’s gluten free fryer. “Our tortilla chips are hand cut and fried, and there are lots of amazing garnishes (like crispy leeks, capers and chickpeas) that aren’t often accessible to people with gluten intolerance.”

When we dine gluten free at Lola’s we love to order The Sante Fe Bowl ($16). It features organic brown rice, black beans, guacamole, roasted corn, grilled sweet potato, romaine, green onions, pico de gallo, crispy tortillas and yogurt lime drizzle.  If you’ve never experienced Lola’s kitchen before, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

 

Urban Herbivore

Photo courtesy of Urban Herbivore

Photo courtesy of Urban Herbivore

 

Urban Herbivore is a vegetarian restaurant that started out in Kensington Market. It has grown to open locations on College Street, the Eaton Centre and has another on they way in Union Station. They are a trusted source for gluten free and vegan meals and an incredible option for people on special diets looking to enjoy a meal close to home or on the go. General Manager Angelo Filaccio tells us:

 

We have offered gluten free items from the beginning. We realized that we could serve the largest number of vegans by making our entire Fresh and Custom Bowl menu gluten free. The grains we offer pack a great protein punch while being safe for gluten sensitive guests, and we only use gluten free soy sauce.

They have an entirely gluten free salad bar, custom bowls, baked goods, as well as soups and stews. Try their perfectly seasoned, hearty Moroccan Stew with tomato, sweet potato, tofu steaks, brown and black rice, and lots of chunky veggies – just hold the breadstick! Angelo adds:

 

Our kitchen is actually gluten free.  All of our baked goods are made in our bakery which is on the second floor of our Kensington Market location.  We make our breads there so while we have wheat flour in our bakery we do our best to keep any gluten out of our cupcakes and other gluten free treats.  We make almost all of our food from scratch in our kitchen and bakery at Kensington Market.

At Urban Herbivore, they take gluten free seriously and their menu was designed with gluten free top of mind, not an afterthought. Drop by any of their locations for fast, fresh and delicious gluten free fare.

 

Planta

Photo courtesy of Planta

Photo courtesy of Planta

 

If you are looking for an elegant and upscale option for gluten free and plant-based dining, look no further than Planta in Yorkville (1221 Bay Street). As Steven Salm, President of Chase Hospitality Group (owners of Planta) told us recently: “Our inspiration was to provide a full service, experience based restaurant”. As soon as you step inside Planta, you know that you are in for a special experience. The high ceilings, loads of natural light and elegant decor provide the perfect setting to enjoy some fabulous food.

 

Planta offers a wide selection of gluten free options. All of their pizzas are available with gluten free crust. Their salads are amazing! You have to try the Habibi ($17.25) with cauliflower couscous, split pea fritters, lentils, parsley, mint, coriander, currants, sumac, za’atar and tahini dressing. Their No Noodle Lasagne ($21.50) is also something special to experience, featuring butternut squash, eggplant and smoked vegan ricotta.

 

We love everything about Planta, we even featured them as one of the Best Healthy Restaurants in Toronto.

 

Going gluten free no longer means going without. We hope these exceptional restaurants with gluten free options expand your healthy horizons.

 

Check out Greenrock’s blog to learn about more ways to experience the best of what your neighbourhood has to offer. Greenrock Property Management is proud to be a part of the Yonge and Bloor community. For information on the Village Green Community, please see our website.

Discover the Toronto Storytelling Festival

Discover the Toronto Storytelling Festival

 

Sit back and listen to the tale of the Toronto Storytelling Festival. It began back in 1979 and has since grown into one of the largest celebrations of the art of voice and story in all the world. From March 24th to April 2nd, 2017, at venues across the city, you can hear some great stories, told straight from the mouths and hearts of some of the finest storytellers from across the country and around the world.

 

Photo courtesy of The Toronto Storytelling Festival

 

The festival was founded in 1979 by Dan Yashinsky to bring together the finest traditional and avant-garde narrators.  It evolved out of a gathering called 1001 Nights of Storytelling, which is now North America’s longest-running adult storytelling series. Mr. Yashinsky tells us that his own love of storytelling was sparked and kindled by nights around the campfire, shortly after arriving in Canada in 1972.

 

I founded the festival in 1979 because I wanted to create a place for people in Toronto to exchange stories by word-of-mouth.  I came to Toronto in 1972 from California, and had the good fortune to work at a camp called Bolton Camp.  It served kids from the inner city. Sitting around the campfire, listening to and telling spooky yarns turned me into a storyteller, and I wanted to recreate that experience of listening when I came back to the city at the end of the summer.  It was pure magic to me: the fire, the kids listening with wide eyes and wider souls, the stories unfolding in the night air. I started hosting an open mic at Gaffers Cafe in Kensington Market in 1978, and then planned and plotted with the late Joan Bodger to create a full-scale festival. Our first one happened on April 1, 1979, and I guess that was an appropriate date for something as wild and foolish as bringing back the oral tradition in modern times. Now, almost forty years later, and a whole life-time since Bolton Camp, I’m still enjoying the experience of gathering to tell and hear stories told by word-of-mouth and word-of-heart.

Dan Yashinsky’s experience of falling in love with storytelling around the campfire may be a beautiful one, but it is by no means a unique tale. Telling stories by the light of the fire has been happening since we discovered fire and our voice. It is perhaps the quintessential human experience. It is who we are. As Yashinsky puts it:

 

Storytellers chronicle the times we live in, and also prepare us to dream new possibilities. When we tell traditional folktales and fairytales, we launch powerful symbols and images of the most extreme elements of human existence. Our imaginations dwell in this ecosystem of dream and transformation, and we visit that realm to gain new and useful knowledge for living in the so-called real world. When we tell life stories, or share personal experiences and true narratives, we become witnesses for our collective moment of history. Whether funny or tragic, these life stories become chapters in the far greater book that is our shared history as a species on one small planet.

Stories are so much more than the sum-total of their words, or a way to pass the time. Whether it’s listening to a local teller from around the corner, or gaining insights from tellers from around the world, there can be much to gain from listening to stories well told. In Mr. Yashinsky’s words:

 

Storytelling is the most subversive art in contemporary society.  It teaches us that we possess – with our memories, tongues, ears, and ability to experience wonder – the tools to create and sustain our own culture. We can make and share our own mind-movies. We can decolonize our imaginations. We can spark new ideas and reclaim the best of the old ones. And all the while, we can revel in language, savor words spoken with passion and thoughtfulness, catch the music of the human voice.  Storytelling, for me, is an ephemeral art that carries weight in the real world. You can’t double-click on wisdom. For that, you need to listen to the storytellers.

Lean in and listen to some great stories, told by great storytellers at the 38th annual Toronto Storytelling Festival. Tickets for all venues are available now. If you’d like to dive in a little deeper, consider a Festival Pass or sign up for Storytellers’ Camp. The camp involves three inspiring days with the world’s finest storytellers who will share their passion, technique and experience, to help take beginner and advanced storytellers to the next level, and connect with their peers. After all, isn’t connection what it’s all about?
Greenrock Property Management wants to help you connect with your community. For information about Greenrock Communities in Toronto, including Greenrock at Davisville Village, please visit our website.

 

Creative CADworks Academy: Where dreams come true

Creative CADworks Academy: Where dreams come true

Creative CADworks Academy is an exciting after school program offered at Davisville Public School in the heart of Davisville Village. Using CAD (Computer Assisted Design) software, the program offers students the opportunity to design virtually anything they can imagine and then build a 3D model of it. We spoke with Hemdeep Patel, one of the creators of the Creative CADworks Academy, to learn how he engineered this unique after school program.

 

Photo courtesy of Creative CADworks Academy

Photo courtesy of Creative CADworks Academy

What is your background and experience with CAD software and the Creative CADworks Academy? What got you involved?

 

I have a B.Sc. in Physics and Astronomy from U Of T. My brother and I started Creative CADworks in 2009 with a key focus on the CAD and 3D printing industry. Our initial business was to provide CAD and 3D printing services to a wide range of industries including mechanical and nano technology design, jewellery design and the dental industry. In 2009, we felt that CAD and 3D printing was going to revolutionise how design can go from a “paper napkin” concept to reality within a short time frame and more importantly, the tools needed were going to be readily available for many to use. From first hand experience, we are seeing the exponential growth of CAD and 3D printing being used in a wider range of industries.  As we grew our Creative CADworks business, we were starting to develop a learning module for CAD. Initially, the learning program that we put together was primarily for business and industry. And during this development, we noticed that the learning program could be adapted to students and with my brother and I having kids of our own, we felt that this would be a valuable addition to a student’s skills.

 

So, how did you adapt that learning module from one that was based on business and industry to something targeted more towards engaging a younger student’s interests and imagination?

 

For students, we have found that CAD and 3D printing allows them to express their ideas in a more tangible way. Students are curious to learn how mechanical systems can be re-created with CAD software and printed. Last year we had one student (who had a class project on the digestive system) build a system on CAD and print it out for their presentation. For many other students, it is just the act of creating characters or everyday objects. The process of design, printing and evaluating the printed object is a valuable skill of self evaluation.

 

I see, that’s really interesting. The student has to learn how to evaluate their own design, to problem-solve and think critically in order to expand their skills and create more complex designs. Is there a minimum skill level that a student must have before beginning the program?

 

The classes are focused on building a broad range of skills in design using a number of CAD software programs. And as students become more skilled, we start to add projects that are fun to reinforce their new skills. There is no minimum skill level or requirements that students need to have (in order to) learn CAD or 3D printing. We have taught a wide range of skill and age levels through our school and business programs, the only requirement would be an interest in learning and a curiosity to explore new ideas.

 

Do you think children may have an advantage over adults in the imagination department?

 

Kids have a broader imagination which can diminish as we age. If you give kids the opportunity to build with CAD they can often adapt better than adults can in learning how to use the software. The intention of the program is to engage their curiosity. Kids can absorb a ton of information, more than adults.

 

Photo courtesy of Creative CADworks Academy.

Photo courtesy of Creative CADworks Academy.

Who is eligible for your after school program?

 

The Creative CADworks Academy afterschool program is open to students from grades 5 and up. Currently, we are running the CAD and 3D printing program at Davisville PS and we are looking to add our program into additional schools around the GTA. In order to introduce our program to any school, we initially run an introductory course.

 

Why do you do what you do, both with your work with CAD software in general and with the Academy? In other words, why does this matter?

 

It matters because the technology and industries across the board are moving in this direction. Any user around the world can access 3D printers. Many people are designing products that are commercially sold, there is a revival of people building things that they want that will improve their lives. Finding shortcuts, developing new tools — people are getting back into DIY technology. I feel that it’s important to train children in this technology, this will become standard material that they will need to know in university. This is a kickstart in that direction. No elementary schools are providing this type of information. The teachers of today went through their education 5 years ago, and this technology had not really taken off yet on a consumer level. Now consumers are actively participating. Average users can build and sell items easily now.

 

Creative CADworks Academy puts the power to design and create in the palm of a child’s hand. The program is an intriguing combination of challenging and fun, and teaches kids to think critically and creatively. Children in the program are encouraged to dream big and take their ideas from concept to model, all while learning marketable skills that may well be essential and invaluable in the future.

Greenrock Property Management is proud to be a part of the Davisville Village Community and share the neighbourhood with great businesses and services like Creative CADworks Academy. For information on our Davisville Village Community please see our website.

 

Big Blue March Break at the ROM

Big Blue March Break at the ROM

 

Take a break from the everyday and dive into an ocean of fun, adventure and discovery at the ROM’s Big Blue March Breakfrom March 11th to 19th. This museum-wide journey gives visitors the opportunity to experience and explore the fascinating world beneath the waves of our Canadian oceans.

 

credit: ROM

credit: ROM

 

There is something for curious visitors of all ages at Big Blue March Break. Learn to hunt like a dolphin by donning a pair of customized echolocation goggles. See how archaeologists solved the mystery of the fateful voyage of the Franklin Expedition using 19th century Inuit testimony, scattered artifacts and state-of-the-art technologies. Explore your creative side with sea-inspired origami, or make a mini-mural on the giant digital colouring wall and design and decorate you own “sea-life” cookie. Commemorate your family’s trip with the Big Blue March Break photo booth. As Chris Kennedy, Senior Manager of Festival Programs at the ROM tells us:

We’ve thought of EVERYONE for Big Blue March Break – the younger set will enjoy our Early Learner’s Lounge, or our theater performance, in partnership with the Toronto Fringe Festival.  Award winning Sculptor Mark Verge (AKA Jungle Jack) will create one-of-a-kind balloon art installations. Visitors of all ages will fall in love with the beautiful creatures that will be on display from our friends at Hands On Exotics.

Big Blue March Break also features some first and final chances to catch some special programming. This is your last chance to see Wildlife Photographer of the Year. This amazing exhibition of 100 stunning new photographs that beautifully capture the diversity of the natural world closes March 19th. On March 11th, visitors can be the first to experience Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story. Experience the massive scale of this magnificent animal for yourself, by coming face to face with an 80-foot blue whale skeleton – one of the largest and most complete ever assembled. Through interactive and hands-on activities, visitors can gain insight into the history and mind-blowing biology of the largest creature to have ever existed on this planet.

 

There is so much to see and do during Big Blue March Break. Count on premium programming, exciting exhibitions, virtual reality, theatre performances for the family, as well as interactive art projects and original insights and stories from ROM experts. The ROM is the ideal destination to enjoy some fun and exciting education during your March Break staycation.

 

The ROM is easily accessible by subway from Greenrock Property Management’s centrally located Greenrock at Davisville Village and an 18 minute walk from Greenrock at Village Green. For more information about our family friendly rental communities in Toronto, please click here.

Escape the Everyday at Riddle Room

Escape the Everyday at Riddle Room

Escape the Everyday at Riddle Room

Grown-ups and young adults tend to forget how to be playful. Luckily there’s a quick remedy for this — go out and play! Video games are fun, but how about experiencing the skill-testing, puzzle-solving, sometimes-spooky fun of online video games in real life? If you haven’t visited Riddle Room Games Cafe and Escape Rooms at 579 Yonge Street (2nd Floor) in Toronto, now is the time. Riddle Room provides a great way to escape the everyday. We tracked down Jeffrey Liu, one of the owners of Riddle Room, to find out what the score is.

 

Escape rooms are based on online video games. The idea is that you are “locked” inside of a room and you try to escape by solving clues and puzzles within the time limit. Even though the idea is you are meant to be locked in, we never actually lock anyone inside a room (for safety reasons) but with that being said, there’s always another way out of the room.

credit: Riddle Room

 

Riddle Room was built by self-proclaimed ‘passionate nerds’ who are “passionate about puzzles, games, and good coffee.” What sets Riddle Room apart from other escape room operations is the addition of another fun trend for grown-ups — a games room cafe. As Jeffrey puts it:

 

It was a very long process to get to what it has become now, but the idea of Real Life Escape Rooms started out in Asia. After having experienced these games abroad, we decided to make one of our own. To make ourselves stand out, we also decided to add a full functioning board game cafe.

credit: Riddle Room

 

The cafe is a place where everyone is welcome and accepted. A place that doesn’t charge a cover to hang out and enjoy over 200 board games and a whole bunch of video games, including the classics, while you enjoy great coffee and snacks.

 

Friendly and inviting is how people have described the atmosphere here. We’ve developed many friendships/partnerships with many different student groups/charities who have used our space multiple times to hold events here. It took us 8 months to find the perfect location, but had we not done our research, we wouldn’t have been able to find a spot as good as this one.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? We could all use a little more fun in our lives. Book a room at Riddle Room! They are always changing and updating their escape rooms, so there is a new adventure to be had every time you visit.

 

Riddle Room is located within easy walking distance of Greenrock Property Management’s Village Green rental community, a quiet oasis in the heart of downtown Toronto. Click here to learn more.

 

 

 

Enjoy Incredible French Cuisine at Coquine.

Enjoy Incredible French Cuisine at Coquine.

There’s a lot to love about life in Davisville Village. The area features great shops and restaurants, high quality schools, and amazing nightlife. The neighbourhood is very multicultural, making it easy to enjoy cuisine from around the world right here. One of our favourite restaurants in the area isCoquine Restaurant (2075 Yonge Street) — a delightful French bistro serving classic French fare with a modern twist. We caught up with Coquine’s owner, Rob Prete, to discuss what to order and why he loves the restaurant and surrounding community.

credit: Coquine

Rob grew up in the Davisville neighbourhood. For some people, running a restaurant seems to be in their blood — it certainly runs in Rob’s family. He got his start in the business as a teenager, working at his cousin’s restaurant, Grazie. Grazie is a vibrant and unpretentious Italian restaurant located just a few minutes up the street from Coquine. The neighbourhood was his home and the people in it “became like family” to him, so when it was time to open his own place back in November of 2007, he knew this was the place to do it.

credit: Coquine

Rob was mentored by Joe Brancacella and Didier LeRoy at Grazie, and attributes much of his industry knowledge to his family and partners there. Rob knew he wanted to open a French restaurant in Toronto. He was passionate about French cuisine, and is even married to a French woman named Anita. With Coquine, Rob wanted to:

 

Recreate a classic French bistro environment, but in Toronto. Delivering classic French fare with the diversity of the city in mind. My aim was to introduce what we have in Europe to the citizens here.

When Rob opened Coquine, he brought Head Chef Alejandro Bustamente with him from Grazie. They had a long history of working side by side, studying together in the Culinary program at George Brown University, and working together at Grazie. They still work closely together today, collaborating on the menu at Coquine. One of the dishes on the menu that they are best known for is their French Onion Soup ($12) which Rob highly recommends to first time visitors.

credit: Coquine

Our French Onion Soup is made with artisanal French baguettes (which are expertly produced by Mark Thuet of Petite Thuet), organic beef stock, caramelized onions and gruyere cheese. We use our own fresh herbs and our stock is reduced with time, not flour.

 

Coquine is also known for their steak frites (8oz $27 /16oz $54), another classic bistro menu item. In their version they use local Ontario dry aged New York striploin, top it with herb butter and serve it with perfectly crisp Yukon Gold frites. Make sure you save some room for some of their Pudding Chomeur (Farmer’s Pudding $11), a delicious and warm maple apple cake topped with vanilla gelato.

 

When asked what he loves most about running Coquine, Rob said:

 

I love creating memories here, watching people smile, watching people with their families, watching them eat in silence. We do weddings here, funerals, bar mitzvahs…we do everything. We contribute to family memories.

 

We trust that Coquine will continue to put smiles on their customers’ faces with their amazing cuisine for many years to come. Pay them a visit for lunch, brunch or dinner for a meal you won’t soon forget.

 


Coquine is located within easy walking distance of Greenrock at Davisville Village, a vibrant family friendly rental community in the heart of midtown Toronto. Click here to learn more.