Sneak Peek: French-style opulence at Colette Grand Cafe and Bakery


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Colette Grand Cafe's design features a strong Parisian influence.

Image: The Chase Hospitality Group

When The Chase Hospitality Group describes a forthcoming new property as “upscale,” it's pretty safe to say they know what they're talking about. 

Announced back in February, the hospitality organization's first rumblings about Colette Grand Cafe, its brand new fine dining destination in the heart of King West, certainly featured the word more than once. Other descriptions included colour like “sophistication,” “outstanding,” “innovative,” and notably, “vibrant.” 

From the very moment that news had broken—and at the time, all that was known was that Scarpetta's was closing, and that a new attraction would be opening in its place—it was apparent that something ambitious was planned for the Thompson Hotel space. For high-end Toronto foodies, it was just a matter of waiting.

This week, Toronto's dining public gets the last word as the Colette Grand finally throws open its doors.

When news was announced, it was an exciting name and an equally-exciting idea that had people talking. As the months ticked past, though, the substance of that idea as began to emerge: one that was about more than just a bakery or a cafe, or even food. What promises to be innovative, outstanding and more than a little vibrant about Colette, according to the already-rippling buzz, is its creation of a hub, a focal point for a range of discriminating dining experiences. And it's in that context that you may have come across Colette once or twice already. Hence that buzz to begin with.

“We are really excited to introduce offerings from the Colette menu,” said Chase Hospitality Group president Steven Salm, back at the beginning of a campaign intended to spread the word about the new King West eatery. Riding two vintage bicycles and a tricked-out food truck, Colette hit the streets, sharing everything from pain au chocolate to crab vichysoisse. It was a taste-making outreach that saw heads turning as quickly as tastebuds. More than that, though, it was a chance for Colette to give a sneak peek of their aesthetic—something that, along with the design of the location itself, might be tied with the food for generating interest. 

With 150 seats and a French design sensibility, Colette Grand Cafe will be something like a multi-room nightclub, or at least its equivalent when it comes to upscale dining. In addition to the dining room, a library and lounge feature along with the bakery, cafe and gallery. Outside, a covered terrace provides a graceful mid-summer view of Victoria Memorial Park on Wellington Street, like a continental take on a tavern patio. 

Whether indoors or out, though, the atmosphere created by the environs of this new, brightly-lit King West hot spot is meant to impress. Designed by Gianpiero Pugliese of AUDAXarchitecture, the interior of the restaurant features barrel vault ceilings, hand-painted tile in traditional Parisian colours—blues, yellows and whites, for the most part—and classic French-style seating. During the campaign leading up to opening day, the use of vintage bikes couldn't have been a better choice, thematically-speaking. So far, at least, dining at the Colette Grand Cafe seems like dining in a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Colette Grand Cafe and Bakery, inside The Thompson Hotel at 550 Wellington Street, officially opens to the public on Thursday, July 31st, 2014. The bakery will be open from Monday to Sunday, 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. The dining room is open Monday to Friday, 11:30 am to close, and Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00 am to close.

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