Flight goes without hitch, and remarkably lands 40 minutes early! Not bad on a flight that was only going to take 3 hrs 40 mins anyway. Captain speedy pants makes a good landing and its off to get the Aeroport Express. My first encounter with the locals is a lovely young Russian Lady called Anna. She had just landed from Kuala Lumpar where she had been working for three months and was on her way home to just outside Moscow. We got chatting and it made the 40 minute direct train journey into Moscow most enjoyable, well it did for me anyway!
The intention was to buy one out there, best laid plans and all that. Checked in, hotel was as nice as it looked on the interweb and chilled for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Monday 20 th October proved to be probably my favourite day of the trip. I woke up refreshed and took full advantage of the inclusive breakfast.
It had snowed overnight which added to the giddiness. I left the hotel at Midday and headed out into the cold, snowy air. The walk into town along the river although very cold and wintry is simply outstanding. Every turn brings a new view of a domed shaped building.
The Kremlin walls getting closer and the iconic St.
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When I visited last year I went to a Mexican restaurant La Cantina, the food was great last year so I thought I might as well give it a try again. One for the oldies there. I settled for a Desperado!
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I get to the Hard Rock but unfortunately they are not there, I remember the John Bull is close by and head there. Again, they are nowhere to be seen. I go in for a Guiness and a few blues are in who invite me to join them at their table. I can only thank them for their hospitality for the next hour or so. A few names I recognise and decide to join them. When in Rome and all that, well Moscow anyway. The rest of the night is a mixture of laughs, and well….
In the bar was our Russian organiser Alex, Giant of a man whose broken English bordered on robotic but the bloke is quite simply first class. He has organised the office block which the Bayern fans have used 2 weeks previously. For this we will pay a deposit of roubles. The remainder will be paid on the coach the next day. I left about 3am with Cheryl and Col in a taxi. They get out at their hotel and I am then left with a Russian Lewis Hamilton. Always a sign of a good night when you miss breakfast, I eventually get mine at 1pm in the hotel bar. However, it soon becomes clear on social media that the police have put a stop to our plans.
This is not how the day should be going. I leave to meet our Alex at about 4pm for the 15 minute walk to the bus. A Russian television crew come on board and want an interview. Neil C takes up the microphone on our behalf and in his best telephone voice gives an assured performance. We eventually arrive at the bar. It is situated next to the banks of the river and first impressions are not positive. Sited near an industrial estate and the bleak windswept river surroundings does not bode well.
Across the river we see the forlorn disused floodlights of the old Torpedo Moscow ground. A few smiles for the cameras later and we make our way into the bar.
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The old saying of never judge a book by its cover is very true. The previous year in Moscow we stumbled across a hidden gem of a bar near the Khimki Arena called Platform Fabulous inside with several rooms for dining and a giant screen in the room that we are to use. Alex has done well. The next couple of hours are quite flat for me. As we watch the game it becomes apparent that some CSKA fans are in the ground.
This leaves a sour taste. And of course the match itself ends poorly for us. The 2 nd half performance is hard to understand. The TV crew film the remaining hours we spend watching the game. I do hope they did not put subtitles on for the Russian viewers! This little ditty sticks in the head for several days.
Lots of inexpensive plonk by the glass, too. Warning: iffy food, great firewater. Bonus: Holly wood hunk Colin Farrell — hubba hubba! Cheap grub, cheap suds, rootsy musical policy. A crowded, smoky neighbourhood patio just beyond the borders of My Big Fat Greektown, the Only is an oasis on a decidedly down-at-the-heels stretch of the boulevard of broken plates.
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Guinness on tap and massive all-day breakfasts guarantee that every seat gets taken on weekends. Spot the al fresco Goof! Atmospheric dive popular with squeegie kids and Kensington characters, with a tiny terrace next to a fish store. Despite its misleading Gone With The Wind porticoed patio facade, Rowers is a temple to all things jock — walls hung with Ned Hanlon paraphernalia, snapshot collages of volleyball tournaments, upside-down racing scull on the ceiling.
No wonder U of T varsity teams unwind here after the game. Bonus: 13 euro brews on tap.
Although the sign out front says Temperance Bar, bike couriers know this tiny, no-frills hang in the core as Spreads. Tunes are as loud and aggressive as the after-work gang is relaxed. Bonus: unexpected skyline view. Premium spot: the front table right on the railing. Somewhat tarted up, its very noisy street-side patio — both the King and Bathurst cars regularly rocket past — makes this a classic watering hole complete with pickled eggs.
Ah, the love that dare not speak its name. The combination of fresh air and a cosmo or superb single malt is unbeatable. When it opened over a year ago, Brasserie Aix was the hottest joint in town. But now that the fabulosi have made like lemmings and moved elsewhere, its curbside verandah separated from street traffic makes a stylish perch for sipping Persecco while eavesdroping on Bar Italia next door.
Though its open front windows make the perfect perch to cruise or be cruised, the best restaurant slash martini lounge is also home to an intimate backyard grotto away from prying eyes. Brasserie Aix? How last summer, darling. Champagne, dawg, champagne! The touristy Elm Street resto strip is best viewed from the second-floor verandah of this posh Portuguese eatery headed by the folks who are also responsible for chi-chi Chiado on College.
Expect expert mezes like tarama salata and tzatziki and mains of whole grilled fish, all set to choruses of retsina. A sea of black leather, a row of shiny Harleys and an endless flow of suds. Bootblack Night at the Toolbox? Though there are over seats, they come at a premium. After two spectacular flops, Club Monaco hands the resto reigns to the Kubo crew. A South American cantina in Kensington Market selling delicious Latin turnovers stuffed with all sorts of good things, Jumbo has just taken possession of its liquor license. Chow down on the curbside market terrace and dig the bizarre cavalcade of local colour that passes here at all hours.
The Hung has the only Vietnamese patio in Chinatown. Year round, the partially tented Spadina-side patio offers multiple variations of delicious pho. Drawing a loyal following of budget-conscious diners, the always-packed spot also offers rarely seen stuff for culinary thrill-seekers — snail vermicelli, beef fondue and congee with heart, blood and intestines. The combined patios of the Riv plus adjacent holding pens at the , Fresh by Juice for Life and Le Select offer in-yer-face views of Queen West at its quirkiest.
Its patio wraps around three sides and fronts noisy daytime Spadina. Though its fashionista days are long gone, this swanky wine bar spills out to its covered curbside deck when the weather permits. Bonus: with Airport, Lava and Xacutti nearby, someone swell is bound to show up shortly.
Staff in gender-fuck drag and the sunniest patio on the Village strip make this a very hot spot. Loud, brash and in-yer-face, Zelda might not be the most tasteful queen in town — warning: food — but she certainly knows how to throw a trashy party. Expect lineups and non-stop campy disco shenanigans.
Late-night nautical scene buzzes around outstanding grilled fresh seafood sandwiches. Grab a coffee and a blintz and watch le tout Annex parade past.
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Great spot to kick back with a beer after an afternoon spent vintage clothes shopping. Under the morning sun on the patio, the Bean dishes up all-day breakfasts and brews strong, fair-trade organic beans. With four grades of fat — from lean to well-marbled — this family-style Annex deli comes as close to authentic Montreal smoked meat on rye as can be found in Toronto.
Authentic house-made chopped liver with caramelized onion, hard-boiled egg and drippings of chicken fat and smoked-meat poutine with gravy and melted cheddar curds, too. Best: an after-the-clubs patio that rocks right round the clock. Started in the 70s as a basement grotto, this restaurant-that-never-closes has taken over the entire three-storey building. If French is the language of love, its cuisine must be a love song.
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First-class baked goods and fab al fresco breakfasts, too. Sunday morning-after brunch features Eggs Boulevard — spicy scrambled eggs, sausage and black turtle beans on three-grain toast. Though the buzz has moved on since it opened last spring, this casual New York loft-style French bistro is sure to heat up again when it takes it to the cobblestones of its west-side courtyard for the first time this season.
Find classic grub — tiny slabs of foie gras terrine spread on contrasting toasts with boozy jelly, dainty roasted lamb with caramelized endive — and a sommelier-led wine list. Reservations a must. Off the eaten track but worth rediscovering. Dine under a picture-perfect pear tree on sensational pan-Asian bento boxes, spectacular Pacific Rim sandwiches and salad combos. Warning: reservations are not taken. Multi-tiered patios in Mirvish Village on the site of now-deceased True Grits. Past the laughable shtick of walkie talkie-toting doormen and up a freight elevator to the fifth floor, find an haute rooftop haunt that caters to the moneyed set.
A heated, tented deck overlooks those overlooked and less fortunate left behind the velvet rope. All this and barbecue, too! A Rye High hang, this second-storey terrace overlooks bleak Dundas Platz. Beyond the strasse, the hi-tech neon towers along Yonge add a touch of sci-fi Tokyo to downtown Toronto. Legendary jukebox decked out with swing-era Sinatra tunes, too.
A laid-back saloon popular with both an after-work and late-night crowd, the 6 is entered through an alleyway.
Beyond its stainless steel kitchen, a narrow stairway leads to a Caribbean-inspired rooftop shack — all corrugated tin, tropical plants and potent island punch. Something to do with a hockey player, this once party-tastic gazebo-in-the-sky is now surrounded by high-rise condos and boutique hotels, though the faithful can still spot the CN Tower from the east deck. Here are some places that stand out from the crowd. Too kewl.
In summer, the House takes its fiery Pakistani eats to the picnic tables out front. Right in the heart of Little India, this family-style eatery features skewered meat and veggie tikka kebabs.