Time Travel to a Living Room in the 90’s

Farside bar plays VHS, vinyls and trivia to help quell any nostalgia you’ve had for the last great decade.

 photo courtesy of Toronto Life

photo courtesy of Toronto Life

Article by Marlene de Leon

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The host with the most, Russel Harder, is nicknamed the man in the bow tie.

Deep in the heart of East Chinatown flashes a neon “Open” sign with a palm tree. It’s Wednesday trivia night, which Russel Harder, aka the man in the bow tie, holds every other week at Farside bar (really, he wears a bow tie to every trivia night).

Priding itself on its sense of community, Farside calls itself the neighbourhood’s communal living room. Nestled in the heart of Riverdale at 600 Gerrard St. E., the bar is an anomaly. It’d be difficult to find any other locations in the area that can speak to the vibrancy of the community.

The bar hosts Trivia Club biweekly on Wednesday, VHS movie screenings every Monday and guest DJs who spin vinyl records on Saturdays. (See their monthly schedule here.)

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The bar also hosts Post a Letter Social Activity Club, where patrons write letters to politicians, loved ones and everyone in between.

Time travel never looked so good.

Comfy sofas are upholstered with fabric straight out of the 90’s (florally and reminiscent of something you’d find in your granny’s basement) and are stationed right by the front window. The wall behind the couches is adorned with a mural (which photos just don’t do justice), painted by a Toronto artist. Friends curl up, gathering their wits for trivia night.

Russel gives you a sheet of paper for your trivia answers and asks for your team name. You are now a member of Farside Trivia Club.

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Order classics and cocktails at the bar.

You’re part of the community as soon as you walk through the door.

The bartender hands you a menu, each one showcasing a different illustration by a Toronto artist.

While ordering a drink and hot dogs, a Disney VHS plays from a projector onto the back wall of the bar.

It feels like you’re 10 years old again, hanging out at friend’s house in 1998… except you can drink alcohol.

Trivia begins.

There are three rounds, each one packed with questions relating to old movies, songs and pop culture from decades past. The game evokes equal exclamations of both “I remember this!” and “I can’t believe I don’t remember this!”

Then, just like in grade school, you exchange trivia pages. You’ll go through another team’s answers, evoking equal exclamations of both “I can’t believe they didn’t remember that!” and “How could they possibly have remembered that?”

At the end, Russel returns your trivia sheet and gives you a sticker. You’ve earned it!

Stay a while. Have another drink. Maybe celebrate with a piece of cake served on a Spice Girls plate. (This is a real item on the menu!) It’s not everyday you get to time travel to the 90’s.

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The seating is as comfy as your nana's old sofa and the mural by a local artist adds a sense of Toronto community pride.

Farside Toronto
600 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1Y3
(647) 347-7433

These Baristas Serve Booze!

Dineen Coffee Co.’s newest and hippest boutique coffee bar opens up just outside of Riverdale – and they have a liquor license!


Article and photography by Marlene de Leon

 A clean exterior with gold plating builds anticipation for what's inside.

A clean exterior with gold plating builds anticipation for what's inside.

Now that our annual Canuck tradition of Tim Horton’s Roll-Up-The-Rim is coming to an end and we’re slowly coming to terms with our crushed dreams of winning a car with our coffee, Dineen Coffee Co. offers a reliable solution to our winter blues: charcuterie boards, gorgeous Instagram-worthy décor and booze.

Dineen Outpost has opened on Gerrard Street! This boutique coffee house is Dineen Coffee Co.’s third location, and the first to obtain its liquor license.

 Their delicious coffee selection is available in their retail section.

Their delicious coffee selection is available in their retail section.

Its aesthetic is unparalleled for a café in the Riverdale area, all thanks to the brilliant eyes behind Pencil interior design.

Covered in salmon-coloured leather and marble, antique-looking gold fixtures, and gorgeous retail shelves on white wooden walls, Dineen Outpost is the perfect rustic getaway from the last bits of winter.

The front seating area boasts ceiling-high windows – a reconstruction of the windows at original location in the Dineen Building – that let in plenty of sunlight and none of the cold.

But the gorgeous interior isn’t what keeps people coming back. When you’re at Dineen Outpost, you’re in great company.

If the place isn’t buzzing with friendly locals who are catching up over olives and Old Fashioned’s or families grabbing baguette sandwiches on the go, the baristas are always welcoming and eager to strike up a conversation. You’ll recognize them by their uniforms: a periwinkle blue blouse, red suspenders and a warm smile.

It’s no wonder Dineen Outpost is quickly becoming a hotspot for Riverdale and other surrounding neighbourhoods.

 Upstairs is a more secluded seating area.

Upstairs is a more secluded seating area.

 The upstairs seating area looks down onto the bar.

The upstairs seating area looks down onto the bar.

Food ranges from early morning pastries to late night bites. Drinks range from cortados to chianti. But if great food and wine aren’t your thing, there’s also wifi and a quiet upper area with plenty of seating and natural light to get some work done. Located just beside the espresso bar, the wafting aroma of espresso beans will keep you inspired.

Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, Dineen Outpost is a sure year-round staple where you can grab a coffee or a cocktail at any hour of the waking day.


Dineen Outpost
1042 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1Z5
(416) 924-7515

Forget Uber Eats! Order This via Facebook

Josephine Louka Mesho runs a Facebook business making home-cooked Syrian dishes in the heart of Riverdale

 photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

by Marlene de Leon

Let’s face it: you’re busy. By the time you’ve had your coffee in the morning, you’ve probably dealt with a crying toddler, answered three urgent emails from your boss and somehow managed to find and put on socks that actually match.

After the long day ahead of you, the last thing you want to think about is what to cook for dinner, and the last thing you want to eat is a soggy pizza, a wilted salad from that diner halfway across town or a melted McFlurry for dessert.

Luckily for you, Josephine Louka Mesho has come to the rescue.

 photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

Along with tens of thousands of Syrian families who made the journey to Canada in 2016, Mesho, her husband, Msbah Mesho Olbeh, and their three children moved into a community co-op housing unit in Riverdale. Looking for a source of income, Mesho turned to social media instead of social assistance, cooking authentic Syrian food for local Torontonians.

“I like to show people something nice from our country – our culture and our food”, Mesho emphasizes. She is passionate about showing Canadians that Syria has more to offer than the conflict that it’s known for.

In January 2017, she started a business through a Facebook page called Josephine’s Syrian Kitchen. Mesho and her husband post the menu on Wednesday and accept orders throughout the week to be picked up the following Monday. All of the food is cooked the same day out of a commercial kitchen in their housing unit next to Withrow Park.

“We love this neighbourhood… They love to try the different foods!” Mesho beams about Riverdale.

Offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, Mesho’s menus include kebabs, fresh hummus, tabbouleh and various middle-eastern dishes. At $55, each meal feeds a family of four.

 photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

Just as Mesho helps feed your family, your support helps Mesho feed hers. But at the end of the day, this business is more to Mesho than just a source of income; it’s a passion.

“I love to cook my food… I am always in the kitchen,” she smiles.

All of her food is made with the best ingredients in the same style that she prepares for her own family. With over 600 Facebook page loyal followers who continue to order her food, the quality of her fresh home-cooked dishes speaks for itself.

Mesho hopes to cater parties and events in the future, and is considering teaching cooking classes.

See what Riverdale is raving about and try Josephine’s Syrian Kitchen for yourself!

Josephine's Syrian Kitchen
100 Bain Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1E8 (Pick-Up Location)

Grazing with the neighbourhood at Goat Coffee Co.

by Emily Anne Fullerton

Historically, coffee shops have always been a place of gathering. A place to talk politics, catch up with old friends, and a place to focus when you have a few too many things on your to-do list. And now, what used to be a run-down Cash for Gold has quickly become one of Riverdale’s community hot spots.

Everyone from students needing a chilled-out place to do their homework, to sharply dressed professionals and politicians holding meetings, to mommy groups of 12 with their newborn babies nestled in their arms, Goat Coffee Co. is truly a place where the community gathers.

Opened in 2014, business owners Anna and Damian Michaelidis or “Mama Goat” and “Papa Goat,” as they lovingly refer to each other as, have been dedicated to providing members of their community with excellent local products and customer service that resonates on a deep and personal level.

As long-time members of the Riverdale community, and with Anna being a seasoned real estate professional, the couple wanted to create a local hub with style and pizzazz. With a space on the corner of Pape and Sammon Avenues ripe for the taking, they surveyed the neighbourhood to find out exactly what should go there. The neighbourhood asked, and they received: a coffee shop.

As a result, Anna and Damian have created a space that is welcoming, vibrant, artistic and indie: a direct reflection of the residents who go there.

The decor is rustic and beautiful. “Papa Goat” himself has done all of the woodwork using repurposed old whiskey barrels from the 1800s. There are hanging Edison light bulbs and cozy exposed brick. And of course, there’s the star of many Instagram photos, the signature red and light-up letters spelling “GRAZE” on the main wall, enticing passersby to stop in and do exactly that.

And they won’t be disappointed if they do. The brewed coffee is truly exceptional. The chef is cooking up incredible brunch-style menu items such as stuffed french toast on the daily, and products such as Sloan Tea and fresh-pressed juice from Forbidden Fruit, two local companies, are proudly being sold and supported as well.

Quickly becoming a neighbourhood legend, the name “Goat” was based on one itself: the legend of Kaldi, an Ethopian goatherd who noticed his goats getting hyped up by eating the cherry-red berries of the coffee shrubs, thus allowing coffee and its magical effects to be discovered.

So go ahead and graze at the Goat. You might just discover something wonderful.

Goat Coffee Co.
893 Pape Ave, East York, ON M4K 3V1
(416) 551-7737