Leslieville, You Have Your Snack Bar

You would never expect to find a snack bar in the East end, but then you stumble upon P.O. Box 1192 and the whole game changes, as you walk in the front door and are greeted by old school hip hop, vinyl lining the walls, and an impressive liquor collection that would make most bar managers drool. This postal office turned into a snack bar boasts a hand-crafted food and drink menu that speaks to their neighbourhood’s tastes, and an interior that makes people poke their heads in just to check out.

P.O. Box 1192 is nestled on the corner of Curzon Street and Queen Street East in the old Leslieville post office building. Ran by Nolan Lynch of Baby Huey’s success, the snack bar is a much-needed addition to Leslieville’s restaurant scene.

Partnering with up-and-coming chef Nick Lachcik, the duo has created a menu that is not only delicious, but locally sourced and seasonally changed. Lachcik relies on St. Lawrence Market for a majority of his fresh produce and meats, and looks to the palette of the neighbourhood for inspiration. From the parmesan dusted warm macaroni and cheese balls to the wedge cut fries in the beef short rib poutine, each piece of the menu, from the snacks to the share plates to the mains, are tailored to fit Lynch and Lachcik’s vision for their restaurant.

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“The thing that’s fun about being a snack bar and having that chalkboard is that you get to know everyone in the neighbourhood, what’s going on in the community, and how you can change your place to suit your people,” Lynch explains. “My idea is to have a place where people feel comfortable and they don’t have to jump in a cab and leave their neighbourhood to have a good time.”

With his experience in the industry on both sides of the wood, Lynch has created a cocktail list with some old favourites, like the Last Word, Negroni, and Old Fashioned, as well as custom concoctions, like the Mango Chili Margarita, which is part tequila, part triple sec, with fresh lime, chili syrup, and egg whites, shaken and stained over ice. Yes please!

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This weekend, P.O. Box 1192 will be hosting a no cover Halloween party featuring the king of old school hip hop, DJ Justo, and on November 8th, they will be launching their brunch menu full of Chef Lachcik’s favourite brunch comfort foods.

P.O. Box 1192 is located at 1192 Queen Street East and open 6 until late Tuesday to Saturday. Follow them @POBOX1192 to keep up with the East end’s newest treasure.

All photographs courtesy of Michelle Nuenes.

Novellahoods: A tour of the Upper Beaches

After over three years of living in Toronto, I feel like I’m pretty savvy when it comes to getting around the heart of the city. But being a west-ender, I’ve never really had many opportunities to cross over to the far-eastern side of Toronto. This whole time, the DVP has seemed to me like the Great Wall of China. What the hell is on the other side? I imagined tumbleweeds. Or maybe factories, or subdivisions for as far as they eye could see. It was all very mysterious.

But last night I finally got the chance to explore the Great Unknown that lies beyond the Don Valley: the neighbourbood of the Upper Beaches. ~TRUMPET SOUNDS~

Streetcar Developments hosted the tour — they’re the guys who build snazzy living spaces all over the city, condominiums that promote a tight-knit community amongst residents and within their neighbourhoods. It’s a really nice company who does really nice work, and their most recent project, The Southwood, is going to continue that track record right in the heart of the Upper Beaches.

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Our tour began at the sales office for The Southwood, where some bubbly was poured and we were introduced to the concept for the condominium, which will be ready for occupancy in spring 2017. Chatting with one of the Streetcar reps, I found out that they’re building on the Upper Beaches turf because the neighbourhood is gaining a lot of momentum — especially amongst the city’s young professionals.

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RoFo? Is that u?

After downing my champagne and deciding to start saving up for one of The Southwood’s south-facing one-bedrooms (SO. PRETTY.), our tour led us out of the sales office and we headed east down Kingston Road, the main street where all the magic happens.

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Yellow House was our next stop, a charming little gallery-slash-framing studio owned and operated by an OCAD grad. Within seconds of talking to her I realized there’s a huge artistic presence in this pocket of the city, and gazing at the walls of her gallery I took in some pretty incredible work. I made a mental note to take my next artistic excursion out this way.

Up next was The Art of Cheese. This place really gave me a feel of how tight-knit the Upper Beaches community is. The owner, Bill Miller (a.k.a. “The Grand Fromage”) is a retiree who opened this tiny shop as his passion project, and he could talk for literally hours about the magic of cheese. After feeding us some beautiful San De Oro cheese and local red wine (I nearly died of happiness in this moment) he divulged all the secrets of his craft. Like, the mind-blowing fact that cheese is supposed to be eaten at room temperature — if it’s too cold, you’re only tasting 40% of its flavour. (WHAAAAT.)

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The Grand Fromage in his element

After being charmed by Bill and his cheese (and his fromage-shaped foam hat), we headed to our next stop: Collected Joy. This beautiful odds-and-ends boutique is owned by Sharon Smyl, a former marketing director who worked with Minto Group and Starbucks. She lives right around the corner from the shop, and most of the brands she carries are local.

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I adored Collected Joy. Sharon kept describing things as “exquisite” and I was just in awe of her style. Maybe I’ll get her to design my new condo at The Southwood. One day…

Second-last stop was at The Stone Pizza, where my fellow media people and I had an impromptu pizza photo shoot. The pies were, as Sharon would say, exquisite. Who would have thought to put apple slices on a pizza? And who would have thought it would taste SO GOOD?

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Finally, we found ourselves at The Beech Tree restaurant and bar. This cosy, beautifully decorated spot is like the “Cheers” of the Upper Beach. The owner, like a lot of the shop owners in the area, used to work at a desk crunching numbers all day and abandoned that job to pursue his passion. The Beech Tree blew me away — literally everything is made in-house. Not one ingredient enters the store in a bottle or package. The mayonnaise, the syrups, everything is handcrafted from scratch in their little kitchen. Swoon. Oh, and the gnocchi can attest to the quality. I was almost reduced to tears while eating this. In a very good way.

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(I couldn’t get a good photo of the gnocchi because it was dim and my photography skills are not on point)

On the walk to our ride home, we were pleasantly surprised by one final Upper Beaches experience. Farmacia Juice Bar‘s tiny cooler-on-wheels rolled up to the sidewalk and served up some scrumptious house-made juices, smoothies and freezies. As if I hadn’t fallen in love with the neighbourhood already, the owner told us that a few weeks prior, when their cart was stolen, the community banded together to find it and bring it back. It’s like the whole Upper Beaches ‘hood is #squadgoals.

So, my dear west-of-the-DVP-ers, here is my advice to you: if you’re getting bored of downtown and want to make a little escape from the city without going too far, go to the Upper Beaches. It’s not as swanky-snotty as the — er, Lower Beaches? — but it’s equally as beautiful and full of boutiques that will steal your heart. I’d live here. And maybe one day I will. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a charming small town that’s hidden in a huge city?