Of course, you’re kidding: winning the Supermax is as likely as finding yourself cheek by jowl with the likes of Kristin Stewart, Ryan Gosling, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman at one of Toronto’s destination restos during TIFF. Sure, stars will be showing up in public places, but the starriest entertaining is done privately. No chance to glimpse Maggie Smith, in town for screening of Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman, picking up the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Legacy Award on September 10 at the new Four Seasons hotel – because the hotel is not officially open. And you have to be a member of the Spoke Club, King West, to have entree to the Nikki Beach Pop-up on the roof – that’s where Colin Firth celebrated his birthday……..
Note that this year there are more stars than ever coming to the festival for quick in-and-out appearances. Thus, the star trail will be more spread out. Restos are sworn to secrecy about star bookings – until after the event. So it’s a matter of inspired guess work to pick the most likely places to dine alongside the famous. Based on the past and on current projections, here are a handful of places where for the price of a drink, you may briefly feel a tiny bit Hollywood. Oh, and be prepared to stay up late – cos that’s where the action is most likely to be. If you want to dine, remember the kitchens usually close at 11 pm, but bar food is then available til 4 am.
Shangri La Hotel, 188 University Ave. if you want to catch top Chinese stars, Jackie Chan and Zhang Ziyi, who stars in the gala Dangerous Liaisons, stop by the just opened hotel resto BOSK, reportedly RIM molecular cuisine. The hotel is the host of the September 10 Asian Film Summit.
Excellent perch will be the DEQ, the casual snacks and cocktails place in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, one of TIFF’s major dorms. Therapeutic patio with seats fireside. The major restaurant TOCA is now without its chef but still serving classic Canadian menu.
Scarpetta in the Thompson Hotel,550 Wellington West. Scott Conant’s local branch of a chain which does major business in L.A. and is therefore home from home for visiting firemen. Pop italian Food is reported to have regained its mojo since the entire kitchen staff walked out last fall.
Bonus if you wait, you can sit at the lobby bar and eyeball passing stars on their way to pool events upstairs.
ONE at the Hazelton Hotel. The class of the festival stays here. Restaurant is like a stage set for celebs. Food is generally bland, service excellent. Bar ideal for star spotting, if you can elbow the Russian expatriate crowd out of the way.
Sotto Sotto, 116A Avenue Road. Small, Italian, with big rep among visiting stars. Food is Mezzogiorno italian , service nice if they know you, but don’t be too disappointed if you find it’s sold out every night during the festival.
La Societe, 131 Bloor W. Pleasant bar echoing Paris, great for watching the festival gentry pass by. Stick to bistro basics when eating, steak frites, etc.
Museum Tavern, 208 Bloor St W. Tom Kastenbaum’s Bistro 990 was, until it recently closed, the go-to restaurant for Festival regulars. Kastenbaum has now given his sons his contact list and memorabilia for their new brasserie, polished wood, red leather booths, a new hang for passing stars.
Black Hoof. 298 Dundas W. Big hit with visiting firemen. Will Johnny Depp or Jude Law be the latest star to be taxied to the West End to eat at the city’s signature charcuterie restaurant to eat beef cheeks.
Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West. Scenester party central. Sit in the dining room and eat undemanding food while you watch the millennium’s bold face names flock up to the Sky Yard. It seems everyone shows up at one time or another.
The Park Hyatt Roof. 4 Avenue Road. This old-fashioned bar with its terrific view south over the city is a keeper among TIFF’s literati.
The newly opened Oxley, 121 Yorkville, clubby British pub with good snacks, may get the stars from the Hazelton Hotel, right opposite, seeking refuge on a quiet patio.
Susan Sarandon won’t like this macho image, but big beef eating stars have been regulars at Barberian’s, 7 Elm St. TO’s venerable steak house with a wine cellar to match.