When the TIFF film schedule was revealed on August 22, festival fever began. Now that this year’s list of confirmed A-list attendees has started to roll in—Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Idris Elba, Emma Stone, and Javier Bardem among them—the excitement is escalating toward that familiar fever pitch. And at the end of a long day working the press circuit, Hollywood’s luminaries are (mostly) just like us: they want to check out new restaurants, sip cocktails at chic bars, and feast on exquisite food. Here’s where to find them drinking and dining the night away. If you go to rub shoulders, dress to impress—sometimes when you look the part, the crowds have a way of parting.
IN THE THICK OF IT
At the festival’s beating heart is the TIFF Bell Lightbox and, naturally, the surrounding areas are rife with celebrity haunts such as steadfast favourites like the discreet Soho House, the historic Windsor Arms Hotel, the Ritz Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, and Montecito, Ivan Reitman’s restaurant (if the step-and-repeat walls are outside, the stars are in). But a rash of refreshing venues around town include celebrity chef David Rocco’s Oretta, with its Instagrammable pink-white-and-gold room and discreet upstairs private dining area (think: VIP film parties). The two-in-one hot spot Lavelle, beloved by Drake—he’s also confirmed to attend this year’s festival—is home to a fine dining restaurant as well as Le Jardin, the swish pool deck/nightlife venue outside. Even if you go for the starry view and 13,000-square-foot rooftop, you may stay late for the cocktails; this fall, executive mixologist Chris Anderson will be blending up a new Sierra Madre Sour using strawberry-rhubarb infused Patron Silver.
Speaking of spirits, the Bar at Shangri-La is a well-trodden thespian hub—many actors book into the hotel for the festival’s run, so also swing by their Bosk restaurant and the see-and-be-seen Lobby Lounge. This year, bartender Chris Rail will be mixing a signature Grey Goose cocktail, served for the duration of TIFF called the Femme Fatale, burgeoning with orange blossom water, lemon juice, and lavender syrup. Grey Goose will also serve a speciality sip at Mediterranean restaurant Byblos (where Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, and Michelle Williams all dined last year). Theirs is a gingery French 96—cheekily named after the year Grey Goose was founded—with vodka replacing the traditional gin. Newly opened in August, the Anne Boleyn is also nearby, a refined English pub serving upscale pub fare along with craft beer and stellar cocktails in a Great Hall–like space. It also has more intimate seating areas for subtler (ahem, starry) gatherings. Keep an eye out for the Maison Moët pop-up around town as well. This year’s location has yet to be determined, but last year it was pouring flutes of Moët & Chandon out of La Macquette during the opening weekend.
Stars aren’t afraid of a little drive for a talk-of-the-town establishment. La Palma and La Banane are two such sizzling spots to see incognito-cool diners feasting on house-made gnocchi and sea bass en croute, respectively. Planta, too, may hit the mark for vegetarian stars like Emma Stone or Jessica Chastain (both will be in town), and the Broadview Hotel on Queen Street East is positively buzzing in its newly renovated state. The garden-style outdoor seating fills up fast and offers, well, beautiful broad views of the city. In swanky Yorkville, long-standing notable the Thompson Toronto hosts a few major film afterparties along with annual A-list soirees such as Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” event. The large lobby bar and famous rooftop lounge are popular year-round perches for star-spotting; during TIFF, the heat turns up. The same goes for Dbar at the Four Seasons a few blocks away and its upstairs French brasserie, Café Boulud. Sidle up to the bar at ONE Restaurant at the Hazelton Hotel to sample its late-night TIFF cocktail and food menu, developed by celebrity chef Mark McEwan and ONE’s chef de cuisine Darby Piquette. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were spotted there last year; Pierce Brosnan has been known to drop by too. This year? You’ll have to go to find out.
The Toronto International Film Festival 2017 runs from September 7 to 17. Find the film schedule, here.
Read our profile on TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey, here.
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