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The easy charms of Leslieville & Riverdale

An insider’s tour of the East End with wife-and-wife design team Robin and Ange Beever

The wife-and-wife design team behind Barbie’s Basement Jewellery, Robin and Ange Beever, aka Trixie and Beever, love the easy charms of Toronto’s east end… and perhaps a cocktail or three


We’ve lived in Leslieville/Riverdale for about 12 years, long enough to see a huge transformation in the area. We used to ask, “When is someone going to open a place where we can get a decent cocktail around here?” Now there’s a dozen or so places… but we mostly drink at home!

But we were pretty happy when McGugan’s “fine Scottish pub” opened around the corner (1058 Gerrard St E; mcgugans.com), so popping out for a pint is an option we exercise every now and then. The Avro (750 Queen St E; theavro.com) is another nice watering hole and has possibly the weirdest/coolest bathroom (the women’s, anyway), with chalkboard walls, lockers and a big cat statue. Our newest boozy crush is the brunch-time Caesar bar at The East Ender (1212 Queen St E; theeastender.ca), with all the classic fixings plus fresh seafood and meaty garnishes. We love a drink that’s a meal and an activity too!

When eating well and inexpensively is our focus, we love living close to east Chinatown. After many years of familiarity with the dim sum service at Pearl Court (633 Gerrard St E), a couple of the servers have befriended — and once kissed — Ange. We’re there for the dumplings, but it’s nice to be liked. Mi Mi (688 Gerrard St E) is our go-to for pho and cold rolls. But we also love Hanoi 3 Seasons (588 Gerrard St E and 1135 Queen St E; hanoi3seasons.com) for more ambience and interesting north Vietnamese dishes. If you ever need a whole BBQ pig, Ka Ka Lucky (349 Broadview Ave) will set you up for a feast like we did for Ange’s 40th birthday roast. But everyday portions of sweet pork, rice and broccoli have kept us fed for only a few bucks more times that we can count.

We also love to cook at home, and we’re thrilled that Meating on Queen (1160 Queen St E) continues to expand its offerings of naturally-raised meats and handmade sausages — I think they’ve got 30 flavours!

The fancy coffee chains and espresso-based indies have moved into the area, but we’d rather visit Tango Palace Coffee Company (1156 Queen St E) which has been around for 17 years. We love the cozy art nouveau décor, the leafy summer patio and, oddly, the sausage rolls we just discovered they make there.

For shopping, our pals at Doll Factory by Damzels (1122 Queen St E; damzels.com) have been rocking Queen Street for five years with a great stash of dresses and gifts (and the backyard parties they throw have become legendary). Closer to the river, we like to check out the well-chosen selection of vintage and pre-owned men’s and women’s clothing, shoes and accessories at Common Sort (804 Queen St E; commonsort.com). And, in shameless self-promotion, our BBJ studio in the 401 Logan building is open by appointment for pop-culture and glitter-infused accessories and home décor. We like to think we fit right in around here in this neighbourhood of unique offerings with a quirky, relaxed vibe.

BARBIE’S BASEMENT JEWELLERY Studio sale. 4pm-9pm. Fri, Dec 14. 11am-6pm. Dec 15. 401 Logan Ave #102. (416) 466-3759. bbj.ca.