Shoppin’ the St. Clair strip

I haven’t shopped the St. Clair strip since last summer when the area was in the throes of construction for the dedicated streetcar.

As luck would have it, the first construction-free summer in six or so years just happened to coincide with a personal invitation to do a little jaunt along the strip around the Wychwood Avenue area.

And so it was that local resident and publicist Beth Merrick and I hit the street one glorious late-June afternoon for a tour of some of her fave shops, restos and foodie joints — many of which opened during or just after the construction. All I can say is, these places have pluck to have survived the general upheaval on the strip.

Our first stop: One Girl Who…, a shop I’ve been meaning to write about since it opened just over a year ago as it’s one of the few fashiony places for women in the ’hood. Beth comes here for the Active Basic tees, $19.99, and great selection of costume jewellery.
We’re both drawn to tie-dye print pieces: Beth is crushing on a bolero-wrap, while a purple tie-dye frock by Honey Bunch out of L.A. ($69.95) would be the perfect sexy beachy dress for my upcoming vacay. 647 St. Clair Ave. W 647-344-2150 www.shopone

Next door is its sister store, Parpar, which has weathered the construction period since opening six years ago. The shop carries baby items, jewellery, accessories and clothing.

The bejewelled hangers at $10 a pop glisten just like the girly, pink mini chandeliers hanging overhead, also for sale. The clothing here is less fashion-forward than next door and kudos to the shopping gods for that. The look is more bohemian-chic and I sure dig it. 649 St. Clair Ave. W 416-657-3333.

We need some shopping fuel so we hit CocoaLatte, which opened about seven months ago. The place is retro charming, with robin’s egg blue walls, a sweet — and packed — back patio, and a dear little silver clock that juts out from the wall. There are sandwiches and salads and soups, but I opt for a berry iced tea while Beth javas up on an iced latte. The cinnamon stick ($2.25) will make you swear off all others. Beth tells me the soup, made with almond milk by local biz Alba Lisa (, is to die for; you can buy it in the café or take home a tub for $9.95. 671 St. Clair Ave. W 416-792-8696.

Next stop: lunch time! I’ve been hearing great things about The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder since it opened about a year ago.
The place is small, with an open kitchen and stools for only about 10 or 15, but no matter. That hasn’t stopped others like ourselves, who have happily lined up to order their wood-smoked barbecue meat, fried chicken, and porchetta sandwiches from the energetic gal behind the counter. She seems to be single-handedly running the place with the vim and vigour of someone on the very strongest of happy pills. Beth and I go for a barbecue pulled chicken sandwich ($8) and a grilled cheese with aged cheddar, sautéed cremini mushrooms, and green apple ($7), which we share. All I can say: amazing. 699 St. Clair Ave. W 416-658-9666

If we weren’t so stuffed we’d consider having a coffee and dessert at the brand spanking new Noir Coffee and Tea next door, a truly gorgeous up-scale looking tea, coffee and sandwich place with lovely red and black accents and an Asian glam décor vibe. Looks like a place that’ll be popular in the evening — perhaps for a first date? 701 St. Clair Ave. W 416-651-8302

I love it when shop owners call you by your name, a phenomenon that happens with Beth throughout our stroll. Inside the mottled green-walled flower shop known as Foglie, owner Lily Contento greets Beth and I. It’s the weekend of the G20 and it’s busy, as downtown flower shops are shut tighter than a Venus Flytrap. Biz has been good lately, Lily says. She’s been on the strip for about three years and the past year in her current location. Beth plucks a huge lovely periwinkle blue flower for $5. I make her pose with it outside. 775 St. Clair Ave. W 416-654-1991

We head to Leah’s Pastry Catering and Custom Baking to munch on the teeniest, most darling of mini butter tarts ($1.25 each). There we meet owner Leah herself, who tells us she’s been in the baking biz forever. Leah opened before Valentine’s Day this year after relocating her kitchen to the space, and figured she’d do a little retail nook in the front. It’s been going gangbusters ever since. She does everything from baked goods and custom wedding cakes — or in Beth’s case, custom wedding cupcakes — to homemade potato chips (which, at $6.50 a bag, I hear from a customer are the best things on the planet). Her biscotti are the stuff of legend: she wholesales between 5,000–10,000 pieces a week to shops all over the city. 621 St. Clair Ave. W 416-785-4711.

Beth and I part ways and I pick up a second-hand dress by Toronto designer Franco Mirabelli ( at the Goodwill mothership for a mere $7.49 after the 50-percent off sale for that day is deducted — the perfect ending to a perfect shop, walk, eat and drink-fest along the new and improved St. Clair Avenue West strip with my new shopping pal Beth. 585 St. Clair Ave. W 416-656-5550

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: Jul 12 2010 4:32 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto