Sneak peek at new Shangri-la Hotel Toronto and Bosk restaurant. Nice!
Elegant but not over the top.
The new Shangri-la Hotel at University and Adelaide unofficially-sort of-kind of opened on Friday, Aug. 31. The hotel rooms are currently not open for public booking but some TIFF folks are spending the night and Bosk, the sleek ground-floor restaurant, is open for breakfast and lunch.
The Bar, located between Bosk and the airy, swish lobby (see photo), will be mostly open during the next couple weeks as long as TIFF folks don't completely take over.
I had a chance to try Bosk for lunch on Friday and it was lovely. My appetizer of fresh, moist dungeness crab was topped with pork crackling and surrounded by green apple juice/sauce and almond milk. I would've liked a bit more zip with the dish to be honest, although one doesn't want to overwhelm dungeness crab.
For the main I had Shanghainese pancakes stuffed with tender, flavourful beef brisket and shrimp XO and topped with chewy garlic. It was surrounded by gently spicy bowls of pickled mushrooms, a garlic sauce and some spicy onions/chives.
The menu also includes a tasty green salad with cultured whey at the bottom; like getting a bowl of ice cream with your greens. Very innovative and fun. But Shangri-la is known for little twists like that. The bread I was served at lunch, for example, came with a citrus aioli. Not my cup of Darjeeling, but a nice twist.
The room has lots of light wood and plenty of light, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto University Ave. and Adelaide. There's a small outdoor seating area on University that should be fun, if a tad noisy during lunch hours.
Menu items feature exotic touches such as pink asparagus and lots of Asian touches, as befits a hotel like the Shangri-La.
In the lobby, which also has enormous panes of glass showing off University Ave. (and thank you for that), there are a dozen or so comfortable, sleek couches with pillows etched in Chinese characters and bright colours of pink, green and pale blue. There also are enormous Chinese calligraphy works and a wall of intricate, dark wood that provides a nice balance to the room.
It's Asian, for sure. But gently so, with plenty of light wood and bright, pink orchids and a real sense of style and class that I quite liked. I can't compare it all the lobbies in town, but I like it more than most.
I didn't get to the rooms or much else on the property but I liked what I saw. And tasted. Definitely a spot worth checking out once they get up and running.
Charly, the bartender at The Bar, made me a lovely, non-alcoholic drink called Dr. John's Fruithouse, with cranberry juice, fresh lime, ginger ale and mixed berries. Light and not too sweet.
His real name, by the way, is Serhan Kusaksizoglu (see below). He was lead barman at the legendary Schumann's Bar in Munich, so he knows a thing or two about drinks. I get the feeling he wouldn't call himself a mixologist, either, although he's in the process of making a batch of Manhattan's that will be served out of a small, wooden cask that sits on the bar and he has a huge supply of bitters and other fancy stuff out on display.
They distill their own drinking water on site and make their own sparkling water, so that cuts down on waste and bottles, which is nice. I'm also told you can, wait for it, open your own window in your room. What a concept!
The spa and pool sound like killers, and the rooms no doubt will be top notch. I'll report back later on that, I hope.
I also did a brief check of the washrooms on the third floor. WOW! Huge sheets of what's called Bookmatch Onyx Marble; huge, wavy lines of light and dark brown in a creme-coloured marble background. It's worth walking in just to see the washroom walls.
It's going to be fascinating to watch how this all plays out, with the Trump two blocks away at Bay and Adelaide, the Ritz-Carlton just around the corner on Wellington and the new Four Seasons due to open in about five weeks in Yorkville.
Killeen said she suspects folks will want to shop around.
"It's like new cars; people test drive something and find what they're most comfortable with."