By KAREN CLEVELAND
Toronto is truly at its finest when it plays host to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) each September. The streets buzz with pride as locals share their favourite haunts with an influx of visitors. And while stars are masters at surreptitiously sneaking through the streets unnoticed, frequenting some key spots just might increase the odds of finding yourself accidentally-on-purpose across the room from your most admired luminary.
The Hazelton Hotel (118 Yorkville Ave.) is bound to house a barrage of visiting stars, though good luck getting a seat (Bono dined at One last year). Shopping at nearby Holt Renfrew (50 Bloor St. W.), Teatro Verde (98 Yorkville Ave.) and the newly reopened flagship home of Louis Vuitton (150 Bloor St West) might be the perfect contingency plan. Jon Hamm and Elisha Cuthbert were both spotted leisurely strolling Yorkville last year.
The back patio of the Oxley Public House in Yorkville (35 Elm St.) is just private enough for a discreet late dinner or round of drinks and there will be fabulous people-watching (of, well, people-watching) at La Société Bistro (131 Bloor St West), the ideal perch overlooking Bloor Street.
Star power will inevitably continue to creep west: Drew Barrymore was way ahead of the curve, shooting pool at Sweaty Betty’s on the still-hip Ossington strip years ago. The stroll from the festival’s headquarters, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre (350 King St. W.), to Ossington is lovely, with good odds for a chance encounter. A late dinner at The Saint (227 Ossington Ave.), tequila at Reposado (136 Ossington Ave.) or a pint at The Grove (1214 Dundas St. W.) are good bets, as is the slightly tucked away Buca (604 King St. W.).
If you’re lucky enough to happen into a chance encounter, it is helpful to remember that actors laud Toronto’s laid-back style, so keep the coolness by maintaining a nonchalance during a celebrity brush. Gawking, squealing and pointing won’t likely welcome an introduction, but a smile, nod of acknowledgment and a confident-but-reserved approach just might!