DINE and Destinations - - TABLE OF CONTENTS -

Build It and They Will Come

Over two cen­turies ago, when Colonal John Graves Sim­coe, the first Lieu­tenant Gover­nor of Up­per Canada, de­clared this area the Town­ship of Markham in 1791 and named it after his friend, Wil­liam Markham, Arch­bishop of York, men of vi­sion have had their eye on Markham. Now, res­i­dents of the City of Markham (Inc. 2012) can say, “Hey, let’s go down­town.” And that would mean a jaunt to En­ter­prise Blvd. for din­ner at a white table­cloth res­tau­rant, a first run movie at Cine­plex, a shop­ping spree, a bev­er­age at a pretty café, or a hop-on for a breezy ride on the Pride of Canada Carousel, an in­ter­ac­tive work of sus­tain­able art.

The Rem­ing­ton Group, the third gen­er­a­tion Bratty fam­ily com­pany, em­ploys a tan­gi­bly car­ing, hands-on re­la­tion­ship to the de­vel­op­ment of this “down­town.” It has cre­ated a unique area that plays host to art and sculp­ture in­stal­la­tions, restau­rants and cafes, movie theatres, a cen­tral ho­tel and unique re­tail bou­tiques. It is a neigh­bour­hood that blends art, cul­ture and ar­chi­tec­ture into a mean­ing­ful com­mu­nity hub. Down­town Markham has be­come the heart of the city. In fact, in the West­ern world’s most di­verse coun­try, Markham is known as the Di­ver­sity Cap­i­tal of Canada. Its res­i­dents are multi-lin­gual, highly ed­u­cated, well em­ployed and in­cred­i­bly trend con­scious.

A week­end at the hand­some Toronto Mar­riott Markham gives me a peek into the Down­town Markham life­style. From the minute we drive into the park­ing garage, we are amazed at the Mu­sic Garage Mu­ral and colour­ful ren­der­ings of fa­mous mu­si­cians. This is our in­tro­duc­tion to the Rem­ing­ton Con­tem­po­rary Art Gallery, one of the world’s most am­bi­tious pub­lic art pro­grams, fea­tur­ing more than $25 mil­lion of stun­ning in­stal­la­tions clev­erly in­te­grated into the pub­lic spa­ces of Down­town Markham. In the ho­tel, wher­ever the eye falls, there is some­thing to ad­mire: the un­du­lat­ing glass and metal light in­stal­la­tion that re­sem­bles

a dragon’s tail, and the un­usu­ally large lobby lounge with Draco Res­tau­rant and it’s seven dis­tinct seat­ing en­vi­ron­ments. One of which is a row of booths, each seat­ing eight guests, with a TV set in­stalled in the wall—very pop­u­lar dur­ing sports sea­sons. The mixol­o­gist has cre­ated an in­no­va­tive bour­bon pro­gram with en­tic­ing cock­tails, cof­fee, and menu items fea­tur­ing bour­bon. We’re just in time for lunch, and from a com­fort­able curved booth, we pe­ruse the menu. Share­ables of lus­cious seafood char­cu­terie and a gen­er­ous cheese­board are pop­u­lar at other ta­bles, but I see hot maple bour­bon wings, lob­ster grilled cheese on chal­lah and King Cole Duck con­fit, and I’m not shar­ing. Live mu­sic plays at night. A re­lax­ing break­fast of mod­ern clas­sics from low carb egg op­tions to corn flake crusted French toast, Bel­gian waf­fles, and a Laven­der Mocha with bour­bon in­fused maple syrup make this the place to be.

Art is part of the per­son­al­ity of the ho­tel. At the el­e­va­tors in the lobby, and on ev­ery floor, pause to ad­mire the fas­ci­nat­ing New York Times Cana­dian Photo Ar­chive dat­ing back to the late 1800s. At the beau­ti­fully ap­pointed pool, a spe­cial piece is a Rollo Ph­lecks in­stal­la­tion of colour­ful pan­els that change from mo­ment to mo­ment as light passes through each panel. This stun­ning mixed-use ho­tel re­flects Mar­riott’s lat­est de­sign con­cept com­bin­ing so­phis­ti­cated guest suites, world-class ameni­ties and lux­u­ri­ous res­i­dences cre­ated with ex­cit­ing de­tail. If a gift is in or­der, drop into Sig­na­ture Eyewear for a cool pair of new glasses, or La Dif­fer­ence for a stylish Rolex. If you crave some­thing sweet, do not miss Ca­cao

70 dip shop or Deme­tre’s for an inspiratio­nal ice cream con­fec­tion.

Se­ri­ously hun­gry, my eyes light up at the sight of Ruth’s Chris Steak House just off the lobby. Con­sis­tency is key, and I know I will have the same ro­bust and juicy steak I’ve en­joyed at Ruth’s Chris in any other city. After a New Or­leans style ap­pe­tizer of plump blue crab cakes sizzling in le­mon but­ter, and an aro­matic saf­fron-in­fused osso bucco ravi­oli, we are ready to in­dulge in the finest USDA Prime rib­eye, broiled at 1800 de­grees and sizzling on a 500 de­gree plate that keeps my steak hot and de­li­cious ‘till the last bite. Overnight-mar­i­nated lamb chops are suc­cu­lent, and a lus­cious Chilean Sea Bass is ac­cented with citrus co­conut but­ter, and a whipped sweet potato and pineap­ple hash.

Across the street is The Ori­gin, Down­town Markham’s epi­cen­ter of pub­lic en­ter­tain­ment, home to Cine­plex VIP + IMAX, York U's Ys­pace In­no­va­tion Lab, Yamaha Mu­sic School, a 24-hour Goodlife Fit­ness and even an outpost of Cur­rey’s Art Sup­plies. “Sneaker heads” stand in line awaiting lim­ited edi­tion shoe re­lease at spe­cialty bou­tiques. At Chat­time, Cap­sule and Go For Tea there are line-ups to or­der the lat­est trendy bev­er­age. I make my way to the larger Lu­cul­lus Bak­ers and Roast­ers, a mi­cro­cosm of a Hong Kong bak­ery. The kitchen brings out an end­less sup­ply of freshly baked and steamed ➤

buns, cakes and light en­trees. I am so happy with my souf­flé cake and an ex­cel­lent cup of cof­fee. Wan­der­ing through this plaza, ad­mir­ing the stun­ning art in­stal­la­tions, it strikes me that one could eat here ev­ery day for weeks and not dine at the same place twice. Costa Sor­rento is an au­then­tic Ital­ian res­tau­rant with all the clas­sics and a few in­ter­est­ing sur­prises: for the ad­ven­tur­ous palate, an ap­pe­tizer of mar­i­nated fresh an­chovies with chilli flakes, pars­ley and oregano. Just right for shar­ing, a whole grilled Adri­atic crispy skin sea bass has the fresh­ness of the sea. Pil­lows of gnoc­chi, fet­tuc­cine and plump ravi­oli, are all home­made by a fine Ital­ian hand. Pizza with so many in­ven­tive top­pings makes me or­der one to take home for later. There is even fresh mini can­noli for dessert, and that’s amoré.

If you’re dream­ing of sushi, Kiu Ja­pa­nese Res­tau­rant’s goal is “to bring hap­pi­ness to your taste buds.” A5 Wagyu comes di­rectly from Miyazaki and the sushi counter is like a mar­ket of to­day’s catch. Want to cus­tom-or­der your own whole fish sashimi di­rectly from Ja­pan? Speak to the man­ager, who will have it for you within one week. At the oys­ter bar they’re pair­ing oys­ters with ponzu jelly and wine. We come here for the clean ra­men se­lec­tion from salt or soy sauce- based bowls with cus­tom-made noo­dles. House-made chili oil and red miso with wok-fried ground tofu, bam­boo, wood ear mush­rooms and thick, twisty noo­dles is a veg­e­tar­ian de­light. Kot­teri Shoyu Tsuke­men is a rich dou­ble soup of seafood and pork broth blended with Ish­hin Shoyu and thick noo­dles served hot or cold.

A chan­de­lier of over 1000 bulbs il­lu­mi­nate the deep blue and emer­ald green Lanna Thai Res­tau­rant, named for a Thai spirit and dy­nasty. All the bet­ter to ap­pre­ci­ate the vi­brant panoply of in­gre­di­ents set be­fore us. A Street Food plat­ter in­clud­ing sa­tay chicken, turmeric fried shrimp and grilled pineap­ple wets our ap­petite be­fore our senses are to­tally se­duced by a fra­grant bowl of rich and silky green curry with pop in your mouth Thai egg­plant and chicken thighs. Plump tiger shrimp crown steam­ing aro­matic Phad Thai. Del­i­cately crisped sea bass, ac­cented with pep­pers, is per­fectly ten­der, as are fall-off-the-bone Mas­saman curry lamb shanks and Panang curry beef short ribs. Dun­geness crab is pre­sented in a sig­na­ture curry with a depth of sweet heat. Each dish of veg­eta­bles, meats and fresh fish, in their com­plex range of prepa­ra­tions, are gen­er­ously por­tioned, beau­ti­fully pre­sented, and de­light ev­ery palate.

Terre Rouge stands in a glass jewel-box like build­ing, ad­ja­cent to the carousel. Chef For­rest Lieu has a pas­sion­ate and el­e­gant touch. A slice of vel­vety foie gras tor­chon is caramelize­d and sits on brioche crum­ble. Added swag­ger comes from tart Hawthorne com­pote and a whim­si­cal pile of smoked “snow.” Or­der salmon tartare and it ap­pears rolled in strips of avo­cado, sport­ing a dol­lop of caviar. Shar­ing is the shine of the times. A whole roasted Rock Cor­nish hen is carved at the ta­ble, crisp skinned and so un­usu­ally juicy, I ask chef for his recipe. Golden mis­oglazed black cod on spinach risotto, crisped duck leg with beer foam, and but­ter­milk spiced fried chicken with ap­ple mango slaw all en­liven our palates and set our taste buds awhirl.

Broadly de­fined, a visit to Down­town Markham is a re­ward­ing cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence. The struc­turally re­laxed ar­chi­tec­ture and so­phis­ti­cated yet friendly restau­rants and shops in­vite multi-gen­er­a­tional fam­i­lies to en­joy a day’s ex­cur­sion. Many come to ap­pre­ci­ate the art in­stal­la­tions in­te­grated in to the pub­lic spa­ces, or for a re­tail fix. But the vi­sion­ar­ies have more plans. Stay tuned for the next chap­ter.

Draco Res­tau­rant

Terre Rouge

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