Sometimes being underrated is a sign of greatness. We’re all neighbourhood cheerleaders in Toronto, trying to push the merits of our ‘hood on our friends and coworkers, but living in a truly outstanding neighbourhood makes you wary of rah-rahing too much. We all know our neighbourhoods change, becoming parodies of themselves, but you want to preserve it for as long as possible, so you stay silent while people debate whether Manic or Bulldog pulls a better shot of espresso. I’m contradicting myself by writing this review, but Bloorcourt is easily the most underrated area in this city.
Over the last few years more and more of my friends have moved out here, drawn by cheap rent and proximity to the subway. As they and other young artists and rascals moved in, the businesses followed. Despite the new businesses, this area remains a perfect example of a mixed use neighbourhood. Unlike my friend who lived on Ossington during the height of its transformation, my laundromat has not been turned into a charcuterie and I don’t expect it will anytime soon. I can still buy cheap produce steps away from my door, get enough Ethiopian food to feed two for $10 (thanks Nazareth!), or take my cat to a vet that doesn’t also sell designer dog slippers.
When our lease was coming up at the end of March my boyfriend and I were thinking of moving south, getting a place around Ossington and Dundas due to a fondness for the bars, brunch spots and boutiques (lets all play spot the cliché ) in the area. Then we thought more about it and realized that while there are 5 places to buy homemade pickles, to buy toilet paper and canned beans you really have to trek. It isn’t like Bloordale lacks for options- we can get deep-fried pickles and bourbon milkshakes at Disgraceland, perfectly executed simple brunches at The Bloordale Pantry, serious French food at Ortolan or stop at Freedom Clothing Collective and buy locally made fashion at a store run by the designers themselves. If we want to go out for drinks we can get the best Caesar in the city on one of the best patios at 3Speed or hop over to any number of other bars that have opened in the last few years. All without sacrificing basic livability.
While lots of new businesses have opened to cater to the influx of young creatives, I don’t think any of the older families feel that they are being pushed out of their homes. When other people talk about how fantastic their neighbourhood is, they’re often talking about how it perfectly reflects their interests back at them, making them feel like a better version of themselves. Bloordale doesn’t work like that. The mix of incomes, ethnicitities and interests keeps the area from being any one thing; I’m pretty sure my neighbours who have a 20 person family dinner every Sunday involving multiple trips to the churrascaria have a totally different experience of the neighbourhood than the four old men who live on the other side of us and often drink $3 bottles of Blue together at the empty bar at the bottom of the street. The way we navigate the area is different, with focal points that the others don’t see, but we’re all living in it and hoping it doesn’t change. So I’ll happily lay claim to most underrated neighbourhood, as long as it can continue to keep that title for years to come.