During my two year tenure in Asia I had the opportunity to familiar myself with several Shangri-La Hotels. Back in 2008 I enjoyed an unforgettable meal at the their property in Manila, Philippines. A few weeks later I found myself in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia where I visited the company’s Trader Hotel which has one of the worlds most stunning rooftop bars. I’ll never forget that magical evening which was spent nibbling on bar snacks and sipping on cocktails while the Petronas Towers glowed before my eyes.
“The Shang” collection is synonymous with Asian hospitality and the creme de la creme in fine dining experiences. So when I heard that Toronto would be getting its own Shang treatment I was excited for the city. I was thrilled to see how this Hong Kong based five star brand would contribute to the cities culinary scene. My first visit to the hotel’s lobby lounge was back in November when the Canadian Tourism Commission hosted a handful of travel media to sip and snack. The lobby was filled with live jazz and the twinkle of a booming fireplace. I couldn’t help but get lost in the romance of the place.
I recently returned for a visit, this time with my father for a pre-theatre snack. The Shang is located directly across from the Four Seasons Centre, a perfect spot to enjoy a bite before your next opera or ballet. We arrived shortly before 11:30am and found ourselves comfy stools by the bar. Over the course of the next two hours we sipped on cocktails and nibbled on bar bites. We were charging our batteries before heading to Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, an epic five hour opera.
The hotel’s lobby lounge is located at the entrance to Bosk Restaurant and features floor to ceiling windows overlooking University Avenue. Natural light abounds while hand blown green and yellow lamps dangle above bottles of this and that. The design of the Shang’s open concept lobby really feels like a billionaires living room. You can get comfortable here. It’s hard to leave.
Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel offers excellent and attentive service while showcasing a colourful collection of hand crafted cocktails. Highlights include the fruity and effervescent Fleur de Istanbul and tea infused Secret Earl Grey. One really can’t enjoy a schmooze at the bar without first sampling a steaming bamboo basket filled with dim sum. A tip of the hat to the brands Asian roots. Juicy beef sliders on cheese brioche are perfect for sharing while their cheese board is complimented by thin slices of crisp asian pear, house made preserve and addictive candied walnuts.
We sampled (* notes my favourites):
Secret Earl Grey *
earl grey infused beefeater, lemon juice, egg white, grapefruit bitter, simple syrup
Fig Sour *
jack daniels tennessee honey, fig, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white
Gin Basil Smash *
beefeater gin, fresh basil, lemon juice, simple syrup
Fleur de Istanbul *
absolut elyx, peach liqueur, tattinger brut champagne, lime juice, raspberries
Steamed Dim Sum *
pork, shrimp, mushroom
paprika, cilantro, smoked aioli
Beef Sliders *
aged white cheddar, tomato, arugula, smoked mayonnaise, cheese brioche bun
Cheese Plate *
house preserve, candied walnuts, baguette