Cha Cha Tea’s cheerful, meticulously organized confines make a pleasing backdrop to its potent selection of leaf-based brews. Replace your cup collection’s frayed paper umbrellas with jaunty bags of tea from across the globe, such as the Sencha Superior, a Japanese Green Tea imported directly from Tokyo ($20 for 100 grams), or the Gyokuro Superior ($32 for 100 grams), lauded for its sweet, mild taste. Bold black brews such as the Earl Grey, available in a variety of bergamot-infused flavours ($8.50 for 100 grams), transform trembling frowns into stiff upper lips.
Spin Dessert Cafe's chefs know a thing or two about sweets. And savoury bites. And, for that matter, everything in between, extending beyond flavour into sight and scent. A glance at their dessert selection and it's obvious how deep their sense of detail goes: more than a dozen house-made ice creams drip with sauces and chocolate shavings, cakes shine with a level of moisture usually only seen in Aquaman's swimming pool, and sweet crepes come speckled with fruity bites. Then there are the savoury crepes, which fold in cheeses and fresh veggies, and thin-crust pizzas dappled with tomato sauce or pesto, all washed down with milkshakes and aromatic coffee drinks.
A student-owned and operated zero-waste café dedicated to fostering ecological responsibility, The Tea Room keeps cockles warmed with more than 30 types of organic, fair-trade teas along with baked goods and a host of tea accessories. Quartets of noshers can engage in relaxed breeze-shooting over sips of loose-leaf french-pressed tea served in sentient pots that dispense steeped sippables between choruses of “Tip me over and pour me out!” Forged from locally sourced ingredients when available, a dulcet lineup of baked goods including muffins, cookies, and scones keeps sweet teeth sated. Alternatively, shoppers can scoop up take-home tea wares, such as Numi boxed tea ($8.50) available in a rainbow of steepable flavours. Travel mugs ($15+) facilitate in-car hydration, and a bamboo-themed Sigg water bottle ($16) keeps liquids contained while attracting jealous stares from passing pandas.
The pinnacle of Italian cuisine?pasta?is built from the ground up at Moma Ristorante Italiano. Chefs simmer potfuls of marinara sauce made from a secret recipe and mold seasoned meat into giant meatballs. Rigatoni, angel hair, and tortellini serve at the base for dishes flavored with pancetta, peas, and saut?ed shrimp. Other dishes that exude tradition include scallops over risotto, grilled steak splashed with a red-wine demi glaze, and pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach and gooey mozzarella cheese.
On select evenings, live musicians send a string of notes floating by tables as guests relax with scoops of creamy gelato and wine. On warm days, patrons can soak up some rays on the outdoor patio or dine under an umbrella to keep cool and hide from the government's spy planes.
To give the Mona Lisa Café authentic European flair, the proprietors adorned the bistro from head to toe with décor and displays imported from Italy. Amongst the crimson walls and marble- and tile-topped café tables, patrons peruse the gelato selections and pastries kept chilled behind glass, seeking something to pair with their coffee drinks. During dinner, the kitchen crafts its own red sauce for pasta and parmigiana dishes, while fresh mozzarella melts over prosciutto and tomatoes in panini sandwiches. Patrons can dine al fresco in the fresh air as live music entertains them.