My how things have changed when it comes to eating out in the time of the Coronavirus. Every city is mandating different requirements for the slow yet eventual return to dining at restaurants again. Governments, operators, and patrons are experimenting together to find the best way to slow down the number of infections. And while this has decimated the restaurant industry and had a huge economic impact on restaurant owners and their employees, the most resourceful have switched over to delivery and takeout during the interim.
One of my personal favourite chefs and restaurateurs, as well as Canada’s, is Chef Patrick Kriss of Alo, Alo Bar and Aloette. During these trying times, he has risen to the occasion, continuing to please his loyal fans with his culinary prowess by finding creative and delicious ways to continue to feed Toronto’s foodies. Just before the onset of the pandemic, he opened Salon Alo, a beautiful private dining event space right next to Alo Bar Yorkville, at 162 Cumberland, that could be rented out for dinners of up to 40 guests or up to 60 for cocktails and wine events. Instead of letting it sit empty, he has converted it into a to-go popup café, of sorts, selling canelé, macaron, scones, decadent pie slices, and flaky almond, chocolate, and classic breakfast croissants, all baked fresh on the premises by Alo’s master pastry chef, Domenico Giammarella – he will even make you a birthday cake if you order in advance (his caramel corn is pretty decadent too). They also have wine for purchase by the bottle, overseen by Alo’s wine director, Christopher Sealy, gorgeous crystal stemware, fresh flowers by Floral Fetish Design, and newspapers.
Now dubbed, Café Salon, the venue is a long, narrow, and intimate space, with blonde wood herringbone floors, a stunning chartreuse marble bar as a focal point, and a raised open kitchen where you can see and smell the delightful scents of them preparing the freshly baked goods. When you enter, there is a table at the front of the shop with the day’s fresh baked goods, another longer table displaying flowers, wines, and wine glasses in the center of the room, and an additional wine area in the back. To discourage guests from lingering there is no seating.
As the restaurants that have survived will slowly be allowed to reopen again, there will be so many protocols for patrons and owners alike, all instituted for our safety. Who knows if Chef Kriss will keep Salon Alo a café, or return it to a small event space. But for now, they are open Thursday through Sunday.
In the meantime enjoy this little gem and urban oasis in the heart of Yorkville.