When local food bloggers, members of the media and wealthy museum benefactors get to party together in one room, this unusual mashup could lead to nothing but one heck of a fun night. Which is exactly what happened at the Best of Toronto event hosted by à la Carte at the Gardiner.
Yes, I partied in a museum – not akin to the club-thumping FNL sessions at the ROM – but an entertaining (and inebriating) social event all the same.
The evening was an opportunity to sample some of the delicious food and beverage offerings of the à La Carte Kitchens as well as tastings of some featured wines from around the world.
Thanks to my good friend @Gastroworld, I had the opportunity to attend this invitation-only event on a nail-bitingly cold February evening. The frigid temperatures, however, didn’t seem to scare away the mass of well-healed guests, all ready to mingle and dig into the decadent offerings.
As the evening progressed, the room got busier, and surfing through the crowd turned into an exercise in manners. And yet, we still managed to rub shoulders with journalists, event planners, winemakers, restauranteurs and familiar fellow bloggers – a veritable patchwork of some of Toronto’s finest. Older patrons seem unfazed as their younger iPhone-toting counterparts instapicked photos for their streams of connected followers.
Guilty as charged, your honour.
And well, no good food is complete without being paired with a good drink…or two, or three. The event was not short of free-flow libations, and featured the offerings of a host of wineries as well as signature cocktails made with Absolut Elyx, a highly refined vodka that is distilled in copper stills.
Clearly, there was no way this was ending well. The food kept coming, the drinks kept flowing…and the conversations all melded into one large chatter.
Just when we thought there couldn’t possibly be more, we chanced upon the dessert table. And while my badly-shot photo does not do it justice (everything turned into a blur towards the end – see above), rest assured the table was lined with an incredible assortment of sweet treats. We lingered by it while engaged in an animated conversation with a delightful Toronto-based event designer who convinced us that our lives would not be complete without a trip to Prince Edward Island (coincidentally his home province) for the best lobster this side of Maine.
Throughout the evening, we were also entertained by the jazz stylings of Toronto pianist David Matheson and his saxophonist cohort.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t say how incredibly friendly all the staff were – from the folks that poured us our drinks, to the serving staff who brought out plate after plate of culinary delights (and indulged our constant requests for food photos), to the coat check crew who assisted a heavily inebriated guest with zipping up their winter coat – every one of them kept the vibe warm, fun and friendly.
With its stunning minimalist design, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a private terrace, the à La Carte Bistro offers a wonderful space for an intimate event. The fact that its food and beverage hit the mark is just the proverbial icing on the cake.
When a party ends much later than it was originally scheduled to, that is a surefire sign of event success. As we stumbled out and jumped into a cab, we could not stop talking about what a great time we’d had making connections and sharing laughs with our newfound friends, sampling the fabulous food and wine, and being completely absorbed by the striking venue.
Mission accomplished à La Carte at the Gardiner. Mission accomplished.