What a night! We took advantage of the TTC day pass so we didn’t have to worry about parking. Nuit Blanche had some definite winners for me and some, not so much. JT and I mapped our routes independently (coincidentally we chose the same one’s!) and began our journey arriving at 7pm to the new Oliver & Bonacini restaurant on Front Street (where Shopsie’s used to be). They sat us quickly (we had a reservation through Open Table). The décor is great, kind of contemporary and historic farm-housie at the same time; cool use of tin, gigantic upside-down tin bucket lights, and cool tables with cloth napkins but no table cloths. It made for very hard surfaces, which made it excessively noisy when we first arrived (it was packed!). As the evening progressed and people left around us, the noise became much more acceptable.
Service was exceptional without a doubt. We dropped a fork and it was immediately whisked away and replaced (I didn’t even notice!). Our waiter was friendly, attentive and available when needed. We ordered three small courses, all were very sharable and brought to our table at a reasonable rate without being rushed or having to wait. The portions are not huge, but do make good sharing plates. Our dinner was as follows: #1: grilled calamari in brown butter with anchovies, black olives and capers (no, not quite heathy but it sure was Yum!); #2: tuna lettuce wraps, a little round disk of iceberg lettuce with raw chunks of tuna, a dollop of creamy avocado, sesame oil, sesame seeds, a droplet of soy, a paper thin slice of radish and garnished with a single cilantro leaf and some very tasty taro threads. There were five on the plate. They were amazing! And last but not least, #3: Wellington County Beef Sliders, Monterrey Jack Cheese and Chipotle Mayo, Yum Yum Yum!
This place hit the spot for us both. Which was a pleasant surprise as I’ve been to the other O&Bs and they were not so hot! I would definitely reco this one, it was a great experience.
O&B Overall rating (in my opinion): decor 4/5, service 4.5/5, food 4.5/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 2/5 at the start and 3/5 at the end (1 being very noisy, and 5 being quiet.
Nuit Blanche. Our journey began down on Front Street and we selected venues we can drop by on our way north meandering a bit east and west until we reached Bloor street. We did not stand in line, nor did we select venues that were indoors, as they were far too crowded. There were three highlights for me: The Pine Cone Colony – giant metal pine cones placed unexpectedly around the grounds. A large pine cone was on fire. I absolutely loved these pine cones. At Yonge Dundas Square there was the Just because you can feel it doesn’t mean it’s there, which was cool because it was a rather large bonfire set in the middle of the city. Unexpected and welcome, because it was a might chilly. I also loved the exhibit up at Holt Renfrew, the Monument to Smile – this was a large scale projection on the façade of Holts of people smiling. It was truly heart warming. Honourable mentions should go to Autolamp, a lace inspired old van and Light up the Night, Swans’s Lake – this was a motorized wedge (group) of swans dancing to Tchaikovsky – it just made me smile. The Night Market was way too crowded, the Light bugs were disappointing (green lights going off and on in a very predictable way, not at all like light bugs).
It was a mildly chilly night, but not unbearable. We dressed for it, so we were reasonably comfortable (I even wore reasonable shoes, for me, that is). There are estimates flying the net that there were over a million people in the city to celebrate, which is significantly more than our first year in 2008. I don’t love crowds and some parts became very uncomfortable, even though the city closed down many streets (way cool to walk in the middle of Bloor street). We ended our evening around mid-night (we old geezers need our beauty sleep!) with a glass of vino and a chat about our adventure.
I am so grateful to live in such a vibrant and wonderful city. I can hardly wait for next year’s Nuit Blanche.