During wickedly cold weather snaps Torontonians pretty much remain entrenched indoors venturing out as little as possible. Sure we'll dash to the grocer, the bank or run errands but the desire to take a leisurely stroll around, say, Kensington Market, diminishes somewhat when you're walking with a wind chill of minus 20 degrees Celsius.
It's times like this where my heart goes out to small independent entrepreneurs who are trying to eke out a cafe living, especially those situated in marginal locations where rents are typically lower. These funky pit stops can struggle during the lean winter months when fringe locations leave them undiscovered or 'off the radar' because it’s too cold to trek farther than a main street Tim Horton's for basic sustenance.
But last week, on a brisk sunny day my friend James and I tootled through Kensington Market to check out the shops and grab a bite to eat. Plus I wanted to show James where my newest listing in a former college was located. It's in dynamic Kensington Market Lofts which offers great value at $469,000 in a truly centre-of-it-all location. Click HERE to check it out! Wtih the wind nipping at our heels, we decided to brave the chill and walk down the street to The Bellevue Cafe on the corner of Bellevue and Nassau in Kensington Market.
The Bellevue is a wee charming two room cafe situated in what was once the living room of a semi-detached house. Ramshackle and quirky, this cafe is a bohemian pit stop for the fresh faced counter-culture of Toronto 20-somethings. Predominantly creative types in film and multi-media, they perched on bar stools sharing tales of adventure while looking artfully relaxed in their styling well-worn clothes and scruffy faces. It caused James and I to smile, for the patrons appeared to be younger versions of ourselves so many years ago, except back in our day everyone smoked while drinking bottomless cups of $1 coffee.
The Bellevue menu comprises simple lunch items that would appeal to most. I had an English muffin with scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon + salad. James had the vegan version. We quaffed coffee and yakked, stopping to occasionally eavesdrop.
Listening to what all the cool kids were saying about life in the city was a treat. For a brief while we lived vicariously through them, making my afternoon at The Bellevue a decidedly different experience from the typical daily antics of a realtor-on-the-go.
Supporting teeny-tiny entrepreneurs not only keeps them afloat, but it can offer an enthralling perspective on urban life. Stepping into these unique destinations with their eclectic crowds is very experiential and spy like fun. It made the effort to weather the cold well-worth it.
Bellevue Café – 61A Bellevue at Nassau, 647-340-8224, Open Tuesday to Sunday 9-5pm
Here's a well-crafted review from NOW MAGAZINE!