A La Carte at the Gardiner Bistro is a great lunch spot perched on the third floor of the Gardiner Museum. The restaurant is open for both brunch and lunch, and offers a Bistro inspired menu. Additional, the dining room was lovely decorated with an elegant atmosphere. The space used to house a cafe run by Chef Jamie Kennedy until 2013 when Toronto caterer, À la Carte Kitchen, was handed control over it. Since then, they have transformed the space, and serving up delicious food. Please note that if you are a member of the Gardiner Museum, you will also receive 10% off on food items. 

I was invited to a private event titled "Best of Toronto" held at the Gardiner Museum a few months back. The event was attended by museum patrons and donors, members of media, and food bloggers. The evening presented a great opportunity to sample the food items catered by À la Carte Kitchen, and to see how an event at A la Carte Bistro was like. The successful event was catered by the team behind À la Carte Kitchen, and they did a fantastic job. At times, it can be a little difficult to evaluate a restaurant based on the food that they serve at an event, since the portions are sample sizes. However, I did enjoyed the food items that we got to sample that night, and it gave me an idea of what sort of food they serve at the restaurant.

The event definitely did showcases how an event held at A la Carte Bistro was like. I thought that the overall atmosphere was lovely and classy, as there was even an experienced live pianist centered in the room. The  flow of conversation emanating from the party was loud, and I could tell that guests were enjoying their night. Lastly, I have a huge sweet tooth, so I was largely impressed by their dessert table. A la Carte Bistro sure knows how to throw a successful party. I want to thank the team behind À la Carte Kitchen, and A la Carte Bistro for the invitation and warm hospitality as I had a great time!







Address: 111 Queens Park Toronto, ON, M5S 2C7 (Gardiner Museum, 3rd Floor)
 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alacartebistro 
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/alacartekitchen

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

A La Carte at the Gardiner Bistro

by on Thursday, May 07, 2015
A La Carte at the Gardiner Bistro is a great lunch spot perched on the third floor of the Gardiner Museum. The restaurant is open for both ...
ClassPass is a fitness subscription service that gets you "unlimited monthly classes at the best fitness studios" and gyms in the Toronto, Mississauga and Midtown areas for $99 a month. You can read my introductory post on ClassPass here. There are over 80+ gyms and studios in the ClassPass Toronto network, so there's something for everyone. I love food, but I have always disregarded the need to workout. However, I was presented with an opportunity to try ClassPass (complimentary for one month) when it first launched in March 2015. I tried a few classes, and I really enjoyed the flexibility of the service, and I definitely felt more energized. I liked it so much that I renewed my ClassPass subscription, and I am now paying for the monthly subscription.

PROS:

- There are over 80 studios participating with ClassPass, so there are a variety of workouts to choose from.
- You can take an unlimited total number of classes per month.
- Perfect for those who like trying new things (yoga, barre, dance, pole dancing, Pilates, etc ...).
- There is no long contract. It's a monthly fitness subscription service, so you pay month to month.
- It's cost-effective if you work out at least 5-6 times a month. I'd say that ClassPass is cheaper than several monthly studio fees as most are upward of nearly $99 as well.
- The flexibility as there are early morning classes (before work) to late evening ones (after work) too.
- The online reservation system is very user friendly. The search function allows you to search through their database based on the date/time, location, studio, and the type of workouts.
- If you live downtown, there are plenty of studios in the core areas.
- You can make reservations for classes up to 7 days in advance. 
- Email reminders when you sign up for a class, and when the class is near. 

    CONS:

    - There is a 12 hour cancellation policy, or else you will be charge an additional $15 if you cancel later than the required time.
    - You are limited to 3 visits per studio per month. It's not so bad though, as there are plenty of other studios to choose from.
    - If you're loyal to one particular studio, then this is definitely not for you.

    You can sign up now here.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hard Candy Fitness @ 382 Yonge St, Toronto, ON

     

    About: Hard Candy Fitness is a "global luxury fitness brand" created by pop star, Madonna. The 42,000 sq. ft. facility has the largest cycling facility in Toronto with stadium seating, surround sound system and one of a kind Spinner Blade Cycles.
     
    Class: For the ClassPass launch, bloggers were invited to try out the Hardrive class - drive longer and harder by adding high-intensity loading on the bike to burn maximum calories. The class is a 60 minute workout on the Spinner Blade Cycles bikes, and it was a lot more intense than I anticipated. As this was my first time working out in a while, I found cycling rather difficult. I definitely struggled to keep up with other fitness bloggers, and I don't think I maintained the proper form on the bike.

    Price: Membership at the studio/gym is $99 a month with a $69 enrollment fee, and a day pass costs $50.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yogaspace @ 148 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON


    About: Yogaspace is a lovely small yoga studio in the heart of Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods neighborhood. It's very easily accessible by both foot if you live downtown, and by TTC.

    Class: I took the Classical Hatha (All Levels) class which works with active and restorative modes of Hatha Yoga practice. This was a long class, as it took 1.5 hours to complete. The class aims to strengthen the body, and promote a level of both calmness and meditative state of mind. I thought that the yoga teacher for the class was very friendly, and helpful.

    Studio Cost: A single class is $20, 5 class pass is $90, and 1 month unlimited class is $150.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Misfit Studio @ 761 Queen St W Toronto, ON


    About: Misfit Studio is a Pilates studio, but they do offer a few yoga classes on their roster as well.

    Class: My class with Misfit Studio was appropriately called Spring Equinox, as it occurred on the first day of Spring 2015. The class was co-taught by Amber (owner) & Bryonie, and was accompanied by live music which provided a very relaxing atmosphere.The studio is located on the third floor of a renovated church, and it was both large and bright. The class wasn't exactly for beginners, as it flowed along pretty quickly.

    Studio Cost: Drop-ins are $20, 5 class pack is $95, and 1 month unlimited class is $175.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Barreworks @ 625 Queen St W, Toronto, ON


    About: Barreworks is a fitness studio that is dedicated to barre based workouts. They are committed to developing effective workouts that help to develop long, and lean muscles.

    Class: I decided to opt out of the beginners class, and took the Barreworks Mixed Level instead. I am glad that I did as I had an intense and amazing workout. I realized just how effective barre was when it comes to working out areas such as my stomach, legs, and arms. The 1-hour class used resistance bands, weighted balls and the barre. Overall, I thought that the class was a little fast paced, but it was a great workout. I also returned to Barreworks last week to take their bAAArre class. This class is designed for maximum sculpting and chiseling. It's a lot more fast-paced than the mixed level one, but it's still considered as a reduced cardio/non-impact workout. Both certified instructors for the classes were friendly, and energetic which created a fun atmosphere.

    Studio Cost: A single class is $21, 5 class is $95, and 1 month unlimited is $199. 


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    MuseMovement @ 180 Shaw St #204, Toronto, ON


    About: MuseMovement Studio is a studio on the second floor of Artscape Youngplace building. The studio itself is an open concept one, and it was just a very clean and bright space with natural light.

    Class: I took the Pilates Deep class which is an hour class that focuses on breathing, control, and precision in movement to work the smaller muscle groups of the body. The class was an intimate one with about 9-10 students which allowed the teacher to walk around, and give correction to those who were doing the postures incorrectly (like myself). I also liked that they provide loaner mats, so that students don't have to lug theirs to/from class.

    Studio Cost: Drop in is $18, intro month mat membership is $45, and monthly mat membership is $155. 



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    YogaTree @ 140 Spadina Ave #201, Toronto, ON


     About: YogaTree is a popular fitness chain with 5 studios across the Greater Toronto Area. The dressing room is large and equipped with a self-combination system which is always awesome.

    Class:  I actually took two classes at the studio, Ashtanga L1, and Reduced Heat L1. Ashtanga Level 1 is a class where we were taught the teaching of Ashtanga, which involves synchronizing the breath and movement. The Reduced Heat L1 class is very similar to hot yoga, but the temperature is set to 28 degrees. This is 10 degrees lower than hot yoga, and helps to prepare for the much hotter classes.

    Studio Cost: 1 class is $17.70, 10 classes are $150, 30 days unlimited yoga intro package (new students only) is $40, the auto-renew monthly unlimited is $99, and one month unlimited is $160.  


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moksha Yoga Downtown @ 577 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON


    About: Moksha is a yoga studio in the heart of downtown Toronto. All of their classes are rooted in the Moksha Yoga series.

    Class: I took an early morning Pilates class. Pilates is "a system of controlled exercises that engage the mind and condition the total body". To be honest, I had a little bit of difficulty keeping up, as the transition of the poses were pretty quick. However, I liked that the teacher made an effort to walk around the class to help correct our posture.

    Studio Price: Single class is $18, introductory 30 days (first visit only) is $40, basic monthly unlimited is $95, 10 class card is $150.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Barre3 Toronto @ 325 King St W #201, Toronto, ON


    About: Barre3 is a studio that mixes movements of ballet barre with both yoga and Pilates. The studio was bright and large, and the washroom was stocked with complimentary clean towels, soap, and even dry (hair) shampoo.

    Class: The class that I took at Barre3 was a high impact workout called barre3. I would have to say that I enjoyed the total-body workout that this class provided, as it was designed to burn fat, and build muscle. They also offer a variety of classes, from beginner to advanced.

    Studio Cost: Single class is $20, unlimited month (one time only/new client) is $99, and unlimited classes (1 month) is $190. 


    Disclaimer:  I was offered an one month complimentary trial of ClassPass where I took the first 4 classes. However, all of the opinions expressed in this blog post are of my own.
    The Fry is one of the newest restaurants in the Yonge and Sheppard area. I am not sure why they would open up to two locations within walking distance from one another, but there's a second location on Yonge/Finch. The Fry specializes in Korean-style fried chicken, which is basically a fried chicken dish prepared in a Korean style.



    After we ordered our food, our server brought us a plate of side dishes of green salad, white radish, and macaroni salad. We were also given a hot plate of seared corn. Just a note that the side dishes are refillable, but sadly the corn are not.



    We ordered the special half & half chicken ($27.99) - fried chicken, and fried chicken in spicy sauce, as our main dish. I'd say that this dish was more than enough for two people, as we left with a few leftover pieces. 


    The fried chicken in spicy sauce was true to its name, as it was rather spicy and flavorful. Additionally, I liked that the chicken pieces were evenly coated in the sauce.


    The second chicken dish that came with the combo was the fried chicken, which was a generous portion of pieces. Korean Fried Chicken is fried twice, and this results in the skin being crispier. The chicken skin was indeed crispy and perfectly spiced, and the meat was juicy on the inside. This way of deep drying also creates a lot less grease all over the chicken. 


    Lastly, as a side, we got the crispy French fries ($6.99. I loved these lightly battered fries, as they were very crispy, and not oily at all.


    Overall, The Fry was a great introduction to Korean Fried Chicken for me, as I have never tried it before. I enjoyed our meal, and left pretty stuffed until the next morning.

    Address: 4864 Yonge St North York, ON, M2N 5N2 

    The Fry on Urbanspoon

    The Fry

    by on Thursday, April 30, 2015
    The Fry is one of the newest restaurants in the Yonge and Sheppard area. I am not sure why they would open up to two locations within wal...
    Delysees is a modern French bakery located on King St W. Prior to my visit, I have seen several people post pictures of their macarons online, but I never knew that it was within walking distance away. I didn't see the storefront until I walked by it; on my way to barre at Barre3. My other half, J, decided to take me to Delysees for a birthday treat, and I didn't hesitate to go. The space was rather contemporary, and clean looking with a lot of white (walls, decor, and chairs/tables).


    To the right of the bakery was a long and narrow glass display case, carrying all sorts of delicious baked goods such as macarons, cheesecakes, eclairs, and croissants. I came here mainly to try out their macarons, so that was my main objective. Delysees offers an assortment of flavors of macarons, and it was rather difficult to select only 10. Each macaron is individually priced at $2.25, but you can also get 6 for $13.50, or 10 for $22. I absolutely adore the sturdiness of their box, as both the macarons, and cheesecake remained intact from the walk back. 



    I opted to get the 10 macarons box for $22.00. The flavors that I got was praline crunch, red velvet, marrakesh mint tea, salted caramel, vanilla birthday cake, coconut raspberry, blueberry buttercream, roasted pistachio, strawberry cheesecake, and crème brûlée. The macarons had a slightly crunchy shell, but its generous filling was nicely chewy on the inside. 


    I also got a raspberry cheesecake ($7.50), which looked rather appealing in the display case.The cheesecake was smooth in texture yet light and fluffy on the inside.




    Address: 780 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1C9

    Delysees Bakery on Urbanspoon

    Delysees

    by on Thursday, April 30, 2015
    Delysees is a modern French bakery located on King St W. Prior to my visit, I have seen several people post pictures of their macarons onli...