19. Feast by a fireplace

21 ways to beat the winter blahs

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A crystal cold starry night, a bottle of vino or two, and a romantic dinner in front of a fire. Does minus 27 Celsius get any better?

When it comes to cozy French bistros, the venerable Auberge du Pommier (4150 Yonge, at York Mills, 416-222-2220) wrote the book. Housed in an elegantly appointed dining room located in a 19th-century stone cottage, Auberge serves chef Jason Bangerter’s unusually sophisticated card in front of a blazing fireplace bigger than most apartments.

Le Select (328 Queen West, at Spadina, 416-596-6405) replaces upscale French country with boho Parisian brasserie chic offering several tables next to its flaming gas-burner. Over in Cabbagetown, Provence Delices (12 Amelia, at Parliament, 416-924-9901) kindles passions with a pair of wood-burning cast-iron stoves.

Downtown, trendier types knock back cocktails at The Drake (1150 Queen West, at Beaconsfield, 416-531-5042) while trying not to fall into the lounge’s recently remodeled firepit.

Meanwhile, the literary set have been toasting themselves by the fireplace at the Park Hyatt’s Rooftop Lounge (4 Avenue Rd., at Bloor West, 416-924-5471) since the 60s.

Since red meat and fire go together like Britney Spears and a bottle of extra-strength cough syrup, it’s no surprise that old school steakhouses like Hy’s (120 Adelaide West, at York, 416-364-6600), The Keg (165 York, at Richmond West, 416-703-1773), and just-launched Prime (18 St. Thomas, at Bloor W, 416-971-9666) in the Windsor Arms all serve up slabs of char-broiled primordial beef alongside sides o’ crackling flames. And creamed spinach.

But Stonegrill on Winchester (51A Winchester, at Parliament, 416-967-6565) goes them one better. Not only does this swanky supper-club come equipped with a pre-requisite fireplace, it allows its well-heeled clientele to cook their own meals on heated volcanic rock built into every table.

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