As a city enthusiastically trying to break free of it’s reputation as the birthplace of Tim Horton’s(actually from Hamilton, Ontario), Toronto is a true melting pot of cuisine. Where the absence of “authentic Canadian cuisine” has led to a very creative, innovative culture where chef’s can experiment and grow.
A quick stroll down any main street in a trendy Toronto neighborhood will leave you feeling hungry, thirsty, and ready to dive deep into the city’s booming food scene. The diversity of Toronto’s restaurant scene is something to be celebrated, but to a newcomer, the plethora of options can be somewhat daunting, from Mother India and Rasta Pasta to La Cubana and Grand Electric, the city is an eclectic medley of cultures, attitudes, and design.
We recently teamed up with noted online influencer and Torontonian, Didier Young of @didieryhc to talk Instagram worthy restaurants, his favorite places around town, and how chain restaurants can leverage their interior designs to create viral buzz on social media sites to build a loyal following.
DEAN JEFFERY: What Makes a restaurant Insta-worthy?
Didier Young: An instagram worthy restaurant space usually means lots of natural light for me. Pretty tables (especially white marble) are sure to be big winners, too. Pretty architectural details and fresh flowers also help add to the ambiance. As bloggers, we are attracted to minimalist locations, pretty latte art and photogenic food. Gorgeous dinnerware and acts as a fantastic canvas for the food to express itself, too.
DJ: From a design perspective, what is your favorite restaurant and what do you like about it?
DY: Bar Raval in Toronto. Designed by Toronto firm PARTISANS, the restaurant pays homage to Spanish Art Nouveau. Unbroken Möbius strips of rich mahogany envelop the space to create an environment that is simultaneously luxurious yet inviting. The whole place definitely has a very rich and magical feel to it which truly invites customers in. Funny enough, it contradicts a lot of the things that I mentioned as “Instagram worthy” but the place is simply stunning.
(Bar Raval, Jonathan Friedman Photography)
DJ: From your perspective what can chain restaurant do to create more socially shareable spaces? What trends would you like to see them embrace and what would you like to see die?
DY: Chains are already doing great. Canadian coffee chain Second Cup Coffee Co. recently rebranded some of their stores and the spaces are absolutely stunning. Pretty tiles have been a big trend lately that always feel so Instagrammable. I do wish they would choose to stop orating the walls with too much stuff though. Clutter never looks very good on Instagram.
(Square Fish , @didieryhc)
(Saturday Surf Cafe, @didieryhc)
DJ: Foodies, bloggers, and digital influencers have somewhat replaced traditional restaurant reviews and critiques. What do you think this means for restaurants, brands, our culture?
DY: That simply means that we all need to adapt. For the longest time, printed media was the best option for people to find out reviews that that means waiting for weeks before being able to finally read a review. Now with digital media, everyone can read reviews, view menus and photos directly from their phones. If anything, this has become such a fantastic way to get directly to the customer and restaurants and brands simply need to embrace it and realize that social media is the fastest way to spread the word nowadays.
MORE ABOUT DIDIER
Didier is a proud defendant of the slow lifestyle movement, minimalism at its best, delicious food and reasonable fashion choices. Tag along with Didier on his journeys, from the land of the IKEA makers to the small hidden gems of Toronto. To see his photography, check out his website here. You can also follow him on Instagram here.