163 CAFE (163 Lauder, at St. Clair West, 647-430-9906) Complete snacks for $5, including all taxes, tip and a fair-trade coffee. Open Monday to Friday 6:30 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8 am to 6 pm, Sunday 10 am to 6 pm. Unlicensed. Cash only: Access: barrier-free but tight space, no washrooms. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Though Tiramisu isn't on its menu, dollhouse-tiny 163 Café, located just across the street from Regal Heights Bistro, has a sign by the door that says "Più lo mando giù, più mi tira su" (The more I swallow it, the more it picks me up). There's certainly much at this retro-fied coffeehouse to get one perked: five fair-trade beans, an assortment of Italian, Brazilian and Malaysian roasts. Mother Parker's and fresh baked biscotti, too.
And if the cute café makes you think movie set - two Parisian café tables flanked by maybe eight wrought-iron chairs at most, a gumball machine, a cuckoo clock, a mannequin with a shrunken head surrounded by miniature mirrored disco balls in the front window (art, no doubt) - that's because it was one.
Or at least its Depression-era exterior, with the awning that reads Lorraine's, was. Lorraine who?
"Before I opened 163 in October," explains owner Luigi Ziani, "the outside of the empty storefront was decorated to look like a dress shop from the 30s for the Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger movie Cinderella Man shot here last summer.
"They left everything behind, even the awning. I did the interior myself with the help of some local artists."
Any celebrity sightings since?
"Geddy Lee's wife," says Ziani.