I visit Tandem every week. It’s on the 504 line which I’m always on, both to go to work and just to get downtown, where I spend a lot of my down time. When I first came to Toronto in 1993, I had little to do but visit coffee shops. The indy coffee scene was off my radar at that time, but gradually I became aware of it. I began checking out the indy shops far and wide here in TO, but the indy coffee scene was in its infancy then and there were far fewer shops. There were virtually none on the 504 line east of Yonge Street. There was Bisogno, which was around the corner on Sherbourne, but that’s all it took for me to not notice it. For the longest time, I passed by that nice espresso bar that I one day discovered online. The owner up and sold it to new owners (including Luthie, who is fantastic), who renamed it Black Canary. It’s not bad.
Time flies. It seems like yesterday when Michie and her partner set up Tandem. Before that, Michie served me coffee at Rooster, down the street, and at Bisogno, before it was sold. I wish every indy coffee shop in Toronto had owners, and baristas, as nice as Michie and Eugene. Many do. Too many don’t. As a single person, I greatly appreciate not just the coffee (which goes up and down everywhere), but also the vibe and the most important contributor to that is the friendliness of the staff. A positive about small shops that are sort of out of the way (which in a big city can mean just being on one side of a street as opposed to the other; such is the nature of how nabes are) is that it’s easier to make yourself at home. I can chit chat with Eugene and Michie more easily than someplace busier. (I also go to Rooster down the street and, while it has some serious negatives about it – more than a few young baristas who play awful, dreary indy music far too loud and awful eats and cold drinks – most of the baristas there are stellar and conversation with them is never a problem.) Although I’m sure that Tandem’s owners wouldn’t mind more business. I only know that they deserve it.
Probably my favorite drink at Tandem is their macchiato. Michie, who usually mans the Synesso, makes an awesome macchiato! My recommendation, if anyone is thinking of popping into Tandem and coffee is what you are after, is a macchiato with a bit less micro-foam than usual, which is how I have it. You don’t want to drown the coffee in milk. Of course, to each his (or…) own. And for those who are interested, Tandem’s mochas are made with fair trade, organic chocolate. Parking is on the street as well as just to the west of the block that Tandem’s on, where there’s a small parking lot. If you park on the street, for sure check the signs. During rush hour in the morning, don’t get caught with your vehicle on the north side of the street (east of Yonge; reverse for west of Yonge, I think) on east/west roads. Rush hour after business hours makes parking on the south side of the street, east of Yonge, a ticket to a ticket.
One of my recent new finds in TO is Crepe T.O.. The owners, Aurash Gashgaei and Rez Zarafshan, are fantastic people. I don’t know them personally, but they are friendly and professional. The crepes are great and, in my view and certainly by comparison with some other eateries in downtown T.O. (like Planta Burger), great value. Crepe T.O. is on the 504 line (Church and King), a few blocks east of Yonge Street. Sometimes, I pair a crepe with my Tandem coffee. It’s a winning combo! I popped in to Crepe T.O. today after leaving Tandem and realized that I could pair Crepe T.O. with Tandem for this blog post which I hadn’t yet been able to give my full attention to, and so I asked one of the owners if I could take pics. He was perfectly okay with it.