LIVIA JUICE BAR (55 Mill, Building 35, Distillery District, 416-413-1410) Average snack $5, smoothies $5 to $6. Open daily 9 am to 6 pm. Access: seven steps at door. Rating: NN Rating: NN
A half-dozen weekend cyclists wander around the Distillery District searching for a spot to lock our bikes. It's so deserted down here that, despite a pair of uniforms patrolling the laneways, we want to secure our wheels in a visible location. I suppose racks and posts would mar the careful aesthetic of the place, but a compromise might be found, if only to attract a bit of life.
I suggest a couple of commissioned sculptures be made for the purpose using bits of rusty metal salvaged from the restoration process.
There are no addresses here, but all the buildings are numbered, lending the complex a prison-camp feel. A map helps us determine where we want to go - a juice bar in a store called Lileo. We lock our bikes to the hand railing outside building number 35, expecting to be shooed away.
Lileo's slogan is "Love, Life, Style," and - surprise - it sells high-end yoga clothing among other things. Books, for example, displayed as adornments for piles of panties.
A dozen small metal tables are spread around the entrance, with wicker-backed chairs and fuchsia cushions atop benches decorated with earthy stones and embedded lights. Feel peace of mind gently replace doubt over your new $150 tank top.
Livia's doesn't offer much besides smoothies. Bottles of Elixir Tonics line the counter, and they promise to quench my thirst more than a $5 blend of carrot, ginger and parsley juice. I choose one called Depth Recharger "for replenishing the deep substance of life; for deep exhaustion & intense living." The $4.25 cure contains ginseng and mixed berry juice. Mixed with either hot or sparkling water, it's all the rage in California, as a loose-leaf binder filled with clippings testifies. It's refreshing but doesn't alleviate the kind of deep weariness I'm feeling.
There are three salads to choose from, and I order the Asian Noodle and Wide World of Goodness (both $5.50). The noodles in the first are gummy with a coating of tofu, but chunks of mango add a bit of much-needed moisture. Liberal cilantro, cucumber, green pepper and baby corn add a little flavour. It cries out for salt, which I realize is forbidden in the process of healing and detoxification.
The second is a bowl of raw green beans with sprouts, red pepper, tomato, corn and sunflower seeds, with a light dressing of balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. I've eaten flavourful green, purple and yellow beans all summer from my organic vegetable share, so perhaps I'm simply tired of them, but this salad's just too boring to bother with.