Updated: Jan 24
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? A new commissary kitchen run by Terroni + an urban trail built over and old train track.
I went back to the West Toronto Railpath this weekend to show this urban trail to a friend visiting from Montreal and to stop at my favourite decadent place to combine with this outing. I came back stunned by all the changes in the Junction Triangle neighbourhood.
Terroni takes over
When the Drake Commissary opened in the Junction Triangle in 2017, I was quick to include it in my urban walking guide. It was the perfect complement to an exploration of the West Toronto Railpath, the former railroad line turned into a paved path. Plus, its decor was one of my favorites in Toronto.
Well, I did not get the memo! This weekend, I learned at the same time that they had closed their doors in August 2021, and that a new commissary kitchen (a food preparation and storage space) was replacing it. The Drake had attached their commissary kitchen to their restaurant. Terroni took over this summer with the same concept for his Spaccio West (128A Sterling Rd). shop.
This is the second such kitchen for Terroni. Spaccio East (22 Sackville St, south of King W) opened during the pandemic and is now a popular hub for Torontonians in the east end of the city. This expansion became necessary to supply all the restaurants under the Terroni umbrella. (They have three Terroni restaurants, La Betolla, Bar Centrale as well as their two Sud Forno cafes/bakeries).
Phew! They did it right!
In the Drake Commissary's day, you were greeted in an open space whose warm decor was created around Alex McLeod's surreal landscapes. The first section of the restaurant was replaced by the Italian shop and McLeod's murals have disappeared, but fortunately they have kept the pretty teal banquettes. (See my BEFORE and AFTER.)
The same wooden counter welcomes us at the entrance and the large restaurant continues to offer intimate nooks and crannies. Weather allowing, there’s still a nice outdoor patio by the front door.
From 8 am to 10 pm, you can order the delicacies displayed in the grab and go window (pizzas, deluxe sandwiches, pastries and pastries, everything is delectable!) and eat them at tables in the grocery section. The restaurant section opens daily from 11:30 am to 10 pm with a more ambitious menu. They also serve a brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am to 3 pm.
Access to the Railpath
As you walk around the old factory housing Spaccio West and Henderson Brewing Co., you will see the brewer's patio and a paved pathway leading to the West Toronto Railpath.
The paved path meets Dundas St West 440 meters further down on your left. If you choose to turn right, it will join Cariboo Ave, 1.7 km further north.
For an easy 2.4 km walk, I recommend going to the right, and continuing past the Bloor GO, to the pedestrian bridge that runs over the railroad. It offers a nice view of the neighbourhood.
As for the Railpath, it could use some love. A few years ago, many murals were commissioned at street level around its accesses off Bloor Street. They are now covered in graffiti. The word obviously got out that the murals were no longer maintained. I wouldn't be surprised if the City simply chose to wait until the many new developments in the area were completed before giving it an artsy facelift.
In the meantime, we can at least reflect on the importance of urban nature in front of Lynette Postuma's turquoise mural facing the GO station. Colourless bricks mark where there were still trees in 2017, when the artist painted her Gradation...
Retracing your steps on the Railpath, take the stairs down to Bloor Street (at the GO station). Then head east to take Sterling Street, which you'll take south to the MOCA (Modern of Contemporary Art) next to Spaccio West.
You'll want to check out the Ethica Coffee Roasters (104-213 Sterling Rd) on the way, to admire their beautiful industrial space.
MOCA, located in the former 1920 Tower Automotive Building, is open from 11 am to 6 pm Wednesday through Sunday (open to 9 pm on Fridays). It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is $10. The Forno Cultura bakery serves the museum's clientele from 9 am Wednesday to Sunday.
Among other things, MOCA is currently offering the starting point for a new augmented reality exhibition Seeing the Invisible, which is spreading to several Toronto parks through an app created for the installation. This art event will run until September 30, 2023 and I can't wait to experience it!
Note that a huge development is currently taking place on the flanks of MOCA. It has greatly reduced the parking spaces around the museum. On the other hand, the Dundas West subway station is 250 m from the Railpath access on both sides of Bloor West.
This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's latest walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls 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 with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.