The high-profile beach-resort-style patios at the Drake Hotel and Ultra (see listing, page 91) may have been last summer's hottest boîtes, but this season it's C Lounge 's time to make a splash. Though it was launched to much media hoopla last winter with an opening party in honour of Late Night's Conan O'Brien, C, as it's known, has so far managed to fly below most local clubgoers' radar. Regulars would not have it any other way.
Located in a tastefully nondescript building behind the Globe and Mail, of all places, C has the Ocean Drive look down to a T, all low-slung leather couches, twinkling candles and sleek, polished wood. A unisex washroom (sorry, "the brilliantly appointed salon common to both male and female patrons," according to the literature) features a waterfall that got the loo named best bathroom in town by the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating. Attendants offer hair and makeup advice, as well.
But it's C's fenced-in backyard courtyard, complete with VIP cabanas, that attracts fabulosi like Prince and Duran Duran, who recline on deeply padded chaises and dangle their celebrated feet in the knee-deep pool that takes up most of the cedar deck. As the breeze wafts in from the lake somewhere in the distance, it's so otherworldly, I'm sure they find it hard to believe they're in Toronto.
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Swansea, that affluent semi-retired burg that runs west from High Park to Bloor West Village, comes new to al fresco café society. Hogtown's last booze-free zone, it's only in the past five years that the area has embraced drinking in public, let alone on a patio in full view of the neighbours. The Yellow Griffin is typical of Swansea, a small Guinness-slinging pub with a six-table curbside veranda where the biggest attractions are Thursday's poker night and Friday's 80s disco. But, like most local bars and restos, business has been down.
"First SARS, then the anti-smoking bylaw. We had to do something!" says the Griffin's Maria Lutkiewicz who, with her son Oliver , decided to think big and offer 1,470 variations of hamburgers, topping combos and side dishes.
That's six different patties - ground beef, lamb or turkey, chicken breast, pork escalope and Yves's veggie - 35 styles of fixin's from the Kung Fu ($8.85), with scallion, peanut and Kung Pao sauce, to the Skippy Dipper ($8.45), with crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jam. Sides go seven ways: sweet potato and Belgian-style fries, breaded onion rings, two types of coleslaw, tart curried potato salad with bacon, apple and raisins, and superbly crisp waffled potato gaufrette.
Some burgers are just plain weird: the St. Peter's ($11.45) on chicken breast with fishy roe and a smashed shrimp - I think not. But others, like the Bollywood ($8.95), lamb with mango chutney and tandoori yogurt sauce, or the Cubana Libre ($10.25), pork with peameal bacon, Swiss cheese and gherkins (hold the hot dog mustard), are keepers.