As promised in my last post which you can read here, this Tasty Tuesday is all about Matt and I’s delayed Valentine’s date in the city. Our plan was to hit up the special Beauty and the Beast exhibit they were putting on at Casa Loma (Toronto’s castle from the early 1900s) and then head for dinner at Biff’s Bistro, an upscale French restaurant in the downtown core. As well thought out as the plan was, it was quickly derailed by the popularity of the Beauty and the Beast exhibit.
After trekking up a hillside of stairs to Casa Loma we found a huge line that wrapped down from the castle around the sidewalk towards the hill. We got in the line and found out that it was going to be 2 hours to just get to the box office. Problem: it was already 1PM and our dinner reservation was downtown for 5:30. It really didn’t give us much time to explore the castle and I didn’t want to waste the day standing in line so once we figured out we could buy tickets online for later that night we decided to remaster our plan for the day. Thank goodness I’m a pro at improvising city adventures.
I’ve never actually gotten off the subway at Dupont before but after checking my phone I realized we were close to Bloor which meant we were only a 10 minute walk away from Snakes and Lattes, a local board game cafe. We had tried to go to the College location a few weeks ago but had been faced with another long wait so we’d left. The Annex location was busy when we went around 1:30 but we got a table right away and were able to settle in for an afternoon of gaming.
I wasn’t hungry when we left the apartment so I grabbed a snack instead of lunch but after climbing up and back down the stairs to Casa Loma, and then walking a few blocks I decided I could eat (big surprise). We shared the plate of hummus and naan, as well as a creme brûlée milkshake while venturing into some new board games.
I got to pick a game first and I chose an old light strategy Jack the Ripper game (which for anyone who knows me is not surprising). The game was simple and entertaining and I won as both the inspector and as Jack (sorry Matt). After finishing up our snacks, Matt went and picked out another game and came back with a steampunk / horror spin on our absolute favourite board game Pandemic. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu uses the basic cooperative elements of Pandemic where you try to save the world but instead of curing and eradicating diseases you’re defeating cultists and closing gates to the underworld.
At this point I think we would both consider ourselves seasoned veterans of Pandemic, especially now that we own an expansion and the advanced version Pandemic: Legacy but all of our Pandemic experience didn’t save us from getting out butts kicked not once but twice in Reign of Cthulhu. We lost the same way both times: too many cultists had taken over the map. I kind of wish we had had time for one more game so we could have tried to win but after the second round it was about time to settle our bill and head out.
After finishing up at Snakes and Lattes, we headed downtown for our reservations at Biff’s Bistro for their Sunday fondue special. Neither of us had been to Biff’s before but it gets great reviews and it has a really charming 1930s atmosphere (which I forgot about when choosing to wear my 1946 Red Velvet Bésame lipstick instead of my 1935 one) and it was a romantic little spot to check out just the two of us. We arrived early and were seated in a comfy corner table in the lounge.
My original suggestion for Matt’s gift was to try and pick a restaurant that went along with the historic / vintage feel of the Bésame lipsticks he had ordered me. He had originally suggested Cluny Bistro in the distillery district which hit the nail on the head in theme but after looking at the menu we decided we weren’t as interested. The place looks beautiful but it wasn’t the kind of meal we were looking for. After a little more researching we found Biff’s, and after our dining experience I’m really glad we did!
The main menu at Biff’s is upscale French cuisine, on Sundays they also do half priced bottle of wines but neither of us drink much wine so we just stuck with water. The cheese fondue special comes with steak, sausage, apples, potatoes, dijon, and bread. The meal comes to around $40 for two people. It’s definitely a more upscale dining experience than we normally check out and when the tray first came to the table I wondered if it was going to be enough food but once you started to dig in it definitely felt like a lot more, especially since they brought you bread to start.
Instead of ordering any main courses we decided to just have the fondue and then indulge in some desserts. Matt, unsurprisingly, ordered the vanilla bean creme brûlée and I ordered the poached pear eclair. Additionally, we decided to share the made to order house madeleines because why have one dessert when you can have three?
I promise I’ve gotten back to my healthy eating since then.
I’m happy to announce that the desserts were as wonderful as dinner and were totally worth the calorie splurge. The madeleines were definitely a standout since they came fresh from the oven and had a lovely citrus taste to them. Honestly, I would go back just to order them and a glass of milk. Plus, how cute are they tucked in their little napkin blanket?
After dinner it was time to head back up to Casa Loma (and back up the hill of stairs) to finally check out the Beauty and the Beast exhibit that we had missed out on in the afternoon. Our online tickets allowed us to walk right in through the front door (the line was much smaller at 7 but still sizeable) and we were able to check out all they had to offer in the last two hours of operation. When we walked in we were told I was the 7,000th visitor for that day. From my understanding Casa Loma doesn’t really get that much foot traffic outside of regular tourist visits unless they have a special event going on so 7,000 was a pretty big number especially since there were still about 100 people in line outside.
My favourite room in the castle has always been the library and fittingly they had set up some of the Beauty an the Beast costumes there. You got to see Gaston and LeFou’s outfits from the movie, as well at Belle’s blue dress. The way they lit the costumes was horrible for pictures because parts were lit with the yellow light of the Casa Loma chandeliers up above and other parts were lit with bright spotlights positioned on the ground. The costumes were beautiful but I wish I had had better lighting to capture the details.
The second room had more of the supporting cast costumes as well as the famous red rose. You could either get in a short line to take a picture of the rose or a longer line to get one with the rose. We were more concerned about seeing everything around the castle so we just snapped our picture of the rose and hightailed it off to the next room.
We wandered around the rest of Casa Loma for the evening. We skipped out on the behind the scenes look at the movie because I’ve sort of been avoiding any and all footage for a while so it could be a big surprise but we did go through the enchanted tunnel.
For my international readers and those who have never been to Casa Loma, I’ll give you a bit of background since I don’t have any good footage of the tunnel. Basically, the estate was constructed with an underground passageway wide enough for two people and around 7 feet tall. This passageway leads from the main estate to the potting shed, the garage and the stables across the street. For the Beauty and the Beast exhibit they had put up framed posters of the characters in their various forms as well as light projections on the wall of the tunnel. It made it look like it was snowing inside the tunnel and every once in a while a character would dance across the wall.
In the garage they’d set up a bouncy castle and a craft station for the kids which was pretty cute and aside from the rooms where the costumes were it was the busiest part of the estate. We missed most of the entertainment because we came so late but we saw a bit of the ballroom dancing (which was stupidly located, only about 15 people could actually see at a time) and we finished the night watching an aerialist perform on silks in the main hall. Overall, I was a little disappointed by the whole experience (mainly because the yellow dress was nowhere to be found) and I was glad we didn’t wait the two hours in the afternoon and derail our other plans for the day. Still, it was a fun time and we got to adventure around some places we hadn’t been before so I’d call it a success.
The weekend was a bit of a rough one in terms of healthy eating and working out but I’m back on it again with the plan of eating well until I get some movie popcorn Saturday night and I’m back to my regular workouts now that I’m feeling better.
Are you excited about the new Beauty and the Beast movie? Are you hoping for any other live action remakes? I really loved Jungle Book and I’m excited to see how they handle Lion King but I’d love to see Hercules or Atlantis. Or anything really.