It is the end of term and my tolerance for stuffy libraries, with their bad lighting and uncomfortable chairs, has grown thin. Yesterday I decided to venture off campus in search of a spot to read that that would provide me with both caffeine and ambiance. I found what I was looking for at Zoots Café (1438 Dundas St West). Zoots is everything but sterile. The art deco lights are warm, the checkered floor and mismatched retro mugs are funky, and the vintage chatchkas (some of which are for sale) are nicely displayed and well curated.
When I arrived I was having trouble deciding what kind of coffee to order. I admitted this to the gentleman behind the counter, and with one glance he told me that I looked like a “macchiato person.” How did he know? I told him he was right, but that my recent summer in Italy had made me pretty picky (code for: it better be good). He made me his own special version: a frothy espresso larger than an single shot and smaller than a cappuccino — It tasted divine! And it lasted a little longer than usual, which was nice.
Later, a friend that lives in the neighborhood met me at Zoots to do some work. We read for a while; but it wasn’t long before we were chatting to Craig, the intuitive barista who was playing a superb play list (Edith Piaf, the Ramones, the Dirty Projectors, Toots, Cut Copy and more). We talked music, then art, then life. By the end of the afternoon we had made a new friend. I recently spoke with a friend of mine from Montreal who said that living in Toronto often felt like "une douche froide." She said that Torontonians don’t talk to one another, flirt with one another or interact with one another in public. My afternoon at Zoots certainly proved her wrong.
After leaving, I walked two doors down to Jessica Bradley Art + Projects to see the Daniel Barrow exhibition (Barrow was just awarded this year’s Sobey prize). Jessica Bradley moved her gallery to Dundas Street West six years ago; and since then a number of hip cafes and restaurants have followed suit. If you are in need of a semi-productive but pleasant afternoon, I recommend a trip to Jessica Bradley’s gallery, followed by a warm drink and a delicious meal at Zoots. Good art, good eats, good coffee, good company…what more can you possibly want?