It may be hard to keep up the positivity, (unless you’re tracking COVID numbers) these days, but the stupid old super-overused cliche is still true- it’s always darkest before dawn. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone, and there are a number of resources you can reach out to.

February is Black History Month. While we’d normally offer a few suggestions for cultural experiences, celebrations and learning opportunities, sadly they’re sidelined due to lockdown restrictions. In lieu of IRL, join the Ontario Heritage Trust for three virtual events, joining best-selling author and two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize-winner, Esi Edugyan as she discusses Washington Black, her latest novel that examines Black Heritage and identity. This pre-recorded event will cast on February 25, March 11 and March 16, 2021 recorded at Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, a Trust museum property in Dresden, Ontario. The cabin commemorates the life of Josiah Henson, who escaped slavery in Kentucky by travelling the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada in 1830. 

trevor-lui

Trevor Lui is known for his various restaurant concepts, TV appearances and for being my one of my most favourite chefs (he’s just *so* down-to-earth and genuine- shoutout to canola camp!). Celebrate the Lunar New Year in style with Trevor’s Double Happiness, and a feast from Hong Shing restaurant replete with everything you need to welcome the Chinese New Year in the comfort of your home. The feast includes Trevor’s cookbook, 8 courses including Chef Tim’s BBQ Meat Platter, XO Garlic Fried Rice, and yes, of course, noodles in a traditional nod to longevity. The kit also boasts some keepsakes like sauces from Yueh Tung Chinese Restaurant, a Cocktail Kit (or mocktail) from Evelyn Chick, Chopsticks from everyone’s favourite shop in Kensington Market, Tap Phong, and Teas and Beers too. Pre-order here, orders are now open for February 5-19th eating, all for $288.

There’s a long ‘weekend’ this month that encapsulates both Valentine’s Day and Family Day, so hopefully, you still like your housemates enough to celebrate this magical weekend with them. And if you’re flying solo, we still have a lot of ideas to bust boredom and maybe treat yourself to something sweet too. Our friends at Marben are offering a throwback 80’s Valentine’s Day kits, with fun classic shooters curated by The Cloak Bar. Purchase on its own for $39 or add it to their retro dining menu, perfect for dusting off that John Hughes marathon. Pre-order your dinner for two here.

Here’s the latest scoop for what’s happening in the Toronto food scene.

Petisco Kitchen is a new project from Leña‘s Executive Chef Julie Marteleira. While her O&B branch is shuttered, she’s keeping busy creating authentic Portuguese eats for Petisco Kitchen, including stunning seafood, and deep fried delicacies like Cod Fritters and Croquettes. Curbside pickup or safe delivery in Toronto- order through IG- @petiscokitchen or through email petiscokitchen@gmail.com.

Chef Rosalin Keshishian is usually found behind the fires at Babel at York Mills and Bayview, but during this lockdown she’s offering her authentic eats direct, including a lovely baked creation dubbed the ‘Love Cake, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Saffron, pistachio, almond, cardamom and rose petals are a pretty presentation to this baked beauty. Feeds 6 people for $45 (plus $5 delivery in Toronto). Order through Rosie’s IG- @rosalinkeshishian.

Paramount Butcher Shop is opening a new location in Mississauga. Mohamad Fakih aka the man with deep pockets and a huge heart has been at the forefront of donating money, meals and more through his restaurant chain, proving that good things do happen to good people.

Midori Ramen has opened up at Queen near Spadina. Importing Chefs straight from Japan, this ramen restaurant takes its broth seriously, boasting a silky texture for their chicken base.

District Pizza in Distillery District has opened. The pizzas range in toppings and good stuff, with notable shout-outs to Afrim’s cheese emporium The Cheese Boutique, so you know the gourmet goods are legit.

Baked goods in pretty packages with a distinct Parisian flair are the pedigree of Nord Lyon. The Queen Street West bakery opened recently offering, yes, classic French desserts and baked goods, but also coffee, buffet-grab and go meals and more. The morning to night concept is very popular in France, we’re keen to check this version out.

Momo House welcomes a second location, this one on Bay Street, and the first franchise location for the Tibetan- Indian restaurant.

nuit regular

Yonge and Eglinton unveiled PAI by Chef Nuit Regular recently. The 12,000 sq ft space features two storeys and a pantry for you to stock up on those hard to source Thai imports. We spoke to Chef Nuit Regular before this whole pandemic happened, read that interview here.

Hidden gem Suite 114 has shuttered. The Bay and Dundas prohibition-style bar couldn’t keep up with COVID restrictions.

The Morning After brunch spot around Fort York is selling off heaps of their gear, either in a grand-goodbye or possibly a re-shift/re-brand. Hugs to their team for curing many a bleary Sunday morning.

While the list of closings are well-documented, we’re here to shine a light on the ones still in the fight. We see you, we’re here to help. Hit Libby up for a shout-out- libby@auburnlane.com.

All photos by Libby Roach.