Updated: Jan 24
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? The excellent FRENCH café Le Conciliabule Lab + a chance to stop and smell the flowers at Allan Gardens.
This fall I discovered the perfect café to pair with a visit to Allan Gardens. I had the opportunity to revisit the attractions of this part of the city this weekend. And can confirm that it will be a very pleasant combination all winter long!
Le Conciliabule Lab
The excellent French café Le Conciliabule Lab (1300 Gerrard St E), is housed in a beautiful Victorian house on Gerrard Street with a discreet entrance off Berkeley Street. It is open from 8:30 am. to 3:30 pm. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, and from 8:30 am. to 5 pm. on Fridays and Saturdays, closed on Mondays.
Right now, on Berkeley, not far from the Conciliabule, you can admire some funny decorations on some red brick houses, just to get in the holiday spirit. Street parking is easier in this residential area than around Sherbourne. The café is less than a 10-minute walk from Allan Gardens, which itself is a 20-minute walk from Sherbourne Subway Station. The route of streetcar #506 includes Allan Gardens.
Crossing the threshold of the modest entrance of the café, one enters a warm universe with Victorian atmosphere, highlighted by a lovely Christmas tree. One goes from the vestibule (where the take-out counter is located) to the dining room (where foodies work at their computer, croissant in hand). The living room is cozy, with its fireplace and large windows.
The counter spread includes scrumptious croissants, croque-monsieur, pâté en croute and fruity pastries. Against the walls, shelves are well stocked with bottles of wine and other pantry offering.
We bought some Coing Amann, a Breton pastry made of layers of croissant dough (mine with caramelized apple) and ordered americanos. Then we did a beeline to Allan Gardens to enjoy them on a bench near the dogs park.
Allan Gardens (at the corner of Carlton and Sherbourne) is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Its display changes every season.
The large central dome is currently being restored but you can visit the greenhouses on either side of the large dome. The entrance on the Carlton Street side gives access to the cactus greenhouse, and to another one with papaya trees!
Then you have to turn around and walk towards the big playground to get to the entrance of the greenhouse where turtles chill and Poinsettias of all colours have been spread all around.
Entering the larger greenhouse with a lovely pond with large carps, we get a breath of air scented by the many flowers that are part of the Christmas arrangements.
In the spirit of Christmas... let's mention the many tents that will not fail to surprise visitors. These are improvised dwellings made by the homeless on the vast grounds surrounding the greenhouses. In an article by Jim Keenan, the minister of Saint Luke's United Church facing the site, it is understood that this is a complex problem that is expected to worsen with the closure of several temporary shelter hotels by the end of December .
In a call for empathy, he points out that one can help to meet the basic needs of these people over the next two months by supporting the church's meal program and donating sleeping bags, tents, socks, gloves, hats, sweaters, boots, winter coats, winter survival kits, including hand and foot warmers.
While in the neighbourhood
On a completely different note, Le Conciliabule is less than 200 meters from the heart of Cabbagetown.
Good gift stores to visit in this neighbourhood include: Labour of Love (223 Carlton St.) with a wide variety of gift ideas, Daniel et Daniel (248 Carlton St.) for putting together a gift basket of food for foodie friends, Spruce Toronto (445 Parliament St.), and Kendall & Co. (514 Parliament St.) which dedicates its storefront to Christmas ornaments.
Nathalie Prézeau is the local author of walking guide Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. See Nathalie's new FREE calendar of WEEKLY WALKS to help her readers better use the guide year-round!
Toronto Best Urban Strolls is available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on torontourbangems.com/shop and amazon.ca or indigo.ca. We also deliver or contact the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a pick up at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville, with discount price.