Out for a Friend’s Birthday

birthday-celebration-gifts-and-a-cocktail

It was recently my friend Nyla’s birthday and we went out to celebrate, along with our mutual friend Julie.

We had a reservation for dinner at 8 o’clock, at Carmen on Queen Street West. Nyla and I had been to this Spanish restaurant, specializing in tapas and paella, during the winter and had really liked it. (There’s a post about it here.)

The plan was to meet on the corner near the restaurant, and then pick a place around there for a drink before dinner. That choice was made easy when Nyla’s cab driver told her about a bar he thought she would like. He said that he had dropped many people off there in recent months.

It was a good thing he’d told her about it, because there was no way we would have found it ourselves behind this unassuming green door.

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The place is called Apt 200, located at 1034 Queen Street West. As you can see by the pictures, it is decorated as though you were visiting someone’s comfortable and lived-in apartment. I subsequently found out that this is the second Apt 200 bar, the original being a very popular spot in Montreal.

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bookcase

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As we got there early, arriving just as it opened at 7pm, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. BUT, from what I’ve read, it gets very busy later on, especially on a Saturday night, with a line-up that can take over an hour to get through. So, it turns out, we were lucky to be able to just walk in and enjoy this beautiful place.

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^ taken by Nyla on her phone ^

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^ Smelling Julie’s Lavender Coupe ^

The service and cocktails were really good. They even gave Nyla a complimentary glass of champagne for her birthday.

Our hour there flew by much too quickly, and I definitely plan to go back. I’ll be sure to arrive before 9pm though, as apparently that’s the latest you can get there and expect to enter without that aforementioned line-up.

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We walked the block eastward to Carmen at 922 Queen Street West, where we were quickly seated at a couple of small tables pushed together in the bar area.

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behind-the-bar

We started with drinks – a cinnamon cocktail I’d had and really liked last time, for Julie and me, and a drink called a Lolita for Nyla. That was followed by a second round of Lolitas, one for each of us, to have while we ate.

menu

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^ taken by Nyla on her phone ^

cocktails

As it was on our previous visit, the food was fantastic. We ordered 5 plates of tapas, each one totally delicious. Here’s what we went for : ALCACHOFAS FRITAS – Fried artichokes, Maldon salt, aioli, and lemon. PATATAS BRAVAS : Roasted potatoes, brava sauce, and aioli. CEVICHE DE ATUN NEGRO : Albacore Tuna with Yuzu and Soy sauce. TOMATE VERDE FRITO CON QUESO FETA, MAÍZ Y PIMIENTOS : Breaded green tomatoes, feta, roasted red peppers, and corn chutney. And a Cauliflower dish that is no longer on their menu.

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Five plates shared by three people was just the right amount, and left us a little room for dessert – Churros for Julie and me and Crema Caramel for Nyla …

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(As I was getting these pictures ready, Nick looked over my shoulder and asked where I’d had that food, and when was he going to get some of it?! So, it looks like I’ll be back at Carmen in the very near future. I don’t mind one bit.)

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We were quite surprised when we looked at the time almost four hours after arriving, to see that is was almost midnight. We pretty much ended up closing the place.

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What a fun evening it turned out to be!

The package in the top picture with the rose on it, was from Julie to me! (It was my birthday the previous week.)

This cute clutch bag is textured with a grid of little holes, that she thoughtfully picked out with the express purpose that I could embellish it with a cross-stitched picture (like my cross-stitching on paper pieces, seen here.) I love it and certainly will be taking her up on the cross-stitching idea, so you’ll be seeing this bag again. I just have to decide what to do first.

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Thank you for checking out my post. Wishing you a great weekend!
xo loulou

Posted in Bars of Toronto, Birthday Celebrations, Queen Street West, Restaurants of Toronto | 4 Comments

High Times at the Home of Friends

four-person-selfie

We spent a recent Sunday afternoon in very fine company, at the home of our dear friends, Chops and Leslie.

I’d say that these two have one of the best apartments around, up high in the sky above Broadview and Danforth, facing west and overlooking the whole city.

The view takes your breath away — as does the sense of vertigo and any fear of heights you might have! It took a few minutes before Nick and I got the nerve to step up to the railing of their balcony.

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leslie

nick

chops

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Leslie is a really good cook, so it was no surprise that she prepared a memorable meal.

We began with a trio of Mexican style dips and chips, served outside …

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Then we went inside to their sun-filled dining area for dinner …

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A tossed salad with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, to start …

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And then, there was a roasted leg-of-lamb, with gravy, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Garlic broccoli …

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sitting-down

Leslie followed Martha Stewart’s recipe for the Herb Crusted Lamb (found here), and it was delicious. Lamb is not something I’ve eaten much of, and I can only remember ever having leg-of-lamb once before, so finding it on the menu was quite a treat.

I’ve never me a mashed potato that I didn’t love, and these were no exception. Leslie followed The Barefoot Contessa’s technique, found here.

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laughing

The sun began to set just as we finished eating …

me

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We went back outside to catch the big show.

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looking-down

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Dessert was served outside. Leslie had gotten her hands on some wild blueberries and was so kind as to share them with us. She made ice-cream with them, following this recipe, and a sauce, which she served with homemade Vanilla Cake, which was make using another Martha Stewart recipe. It was a dreamy combination!

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We’ve known these two for 13 years now, so hanging out with them is always relaxed and filled with laughs.

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They’re so lucky to get to see this every day.

Thanks for dropping over.
xo loulou

Posted in Visiting the Home of Friends | 4 Comments