When you become a parent you’ll find that a quiet date night is a luxury that requires weeks of planning, coordination with friends or family to babysit, and a lot of prayers that your little one does not get sick or teeth or anything that requires you to tend to them. Before we had Tristan, my husband and I celebrated every month since we started dating… and no.. nothing fancy.. we just have to make sure we had dinner together combined with a little something special. Maybe a special breakfast, or a special treat, or a little love note; nothing over the top but enough to keep the passion going. We’d take turns planning so we both get to feel special. We tried to keep the tradition going after Tristan was born, but it probably lasted 1 month and then all the days started to blur and all I could remember is how many naps he took that day, how many mL of milk he had, etc etc. Anyways, I should probably focus on this occasion and talk more about how I survived my 1 year maternity leave in another post.
I started planning this day about a month ago. Tristan will be in daycare (I’ll talk about Tristan’s transition into daycare in another post), my mom will be picking him up, and my in-laws will be entertaining him and putting him to bed. Baby – checked. Next, planning what to do… of course there’ll be a lot of food, but what do we do before, in between and after? What is the travel plan and should we drive or take public transportation? Budget!!! After playing around with different variations of the itinerary, service providers and restaurants, our day looked as follow:
10:00 am – Couple Thai Massage & Pailin Thai Massage (with Groupon – $60 pp for 90 mins)
12:00 pm – Brunch @ Insomnia (right across the street from the Pailin Thai Massage)
3:20 pm – Beauty & the Beast @ Cineplex Odeon Varsity & VIP Theatre (a 15 mins walk from Insomnia along Bloor where we could do some window shopping, buy bubble tea etc.)
6:30 pm – Dinner & Dandylion
After Dinner – Barchef for a one-of-a-kind cocktail
Here’s our experience…
Pailin Thai Massage was hard to find. Even though they sent us directions for parking and entry, it was still very confusing. When we arrived, we were a little disappointed because we thought it would be like a spa. Instead, they shared the rooms with a fertility clinic and their washroom was outside in the hallway. The ladies working there knows limited English, which was nice because it felt authentic. Although we’ve asked to be in the same room, they’ve split us into two different rooms which wasn’t the end of the world, but I was definitely surprised as they’ve even confirmed with me the day before that we’ll be in the same room. They had no music playing so during the whole massage, all I heard was my breathing, the fan, and the squeaking of the massage bed. The massage itself was pleasant… it started with an overall-body-warm-up sort of massage, then she got into individual muscle groups. For those who never tried Thai Massage… they are amazing because they are super deep-muscle massages, combined with stretches. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t work on my neck and shoulders longer, but all-in-all, it was a good massage because I was aching all over. I would probably not return to this place as there are many other Thai Massage places with a better overall experience.
After our massage, we crossed the street to Insomnia for brunch. Although it was a random Wednesday, the place was packed. When I got the menu, I was extremely disappointed because the pancakes I saw on Yelp were only available on the weekends! Arg! Instead, I ordered the pull pork eggs benedict with home fries, and my husband ordered the General PLT which was a sandwich with milk bun, peameal bacon, egg, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli with a side of sweet potato fries. We both LOVED our meals, and both fries were amazing. The sweet potato fries were extremely crispy, and the home fries was tossed in their ‘secret’ sauce – which our waitress told us was ketchup+ balsamic vinegar. The pulled pork for my eggs benedict could be more shredded and cooked a little longer, but the amazing flavors made up for it.
After our super filling meals (and nope.. I couldn’t finish my fries.. it got a bit saucy at the end..), we took a nice, relaxing walk along Bloor towards the cinema. We grabbed some bubble tea along the way at Chatime, and spent a little too much time at Pusateri. After getting the tickets, we still had an hour to spare so we spent it at my favorite shop – Chapters Indigo. I truly miss the days when I could just hang out at the bookstore, flipping through the latest best sellers and checking out the latest home décor trends. It’s interesting how many things I’ve taken for granted until I have a baby. Going back to the movie… honestly.. I LOVED IT. I liked it so much more than the cartoon because the movie gave the characters more depth and personality. My husband and I actually watched the cartoon the week before and we both thought the Belle in the cartoon was extremely selfish, a liar, and truthfully not the greatest person. We also thought the animation was amazing and extremely realistic and the singing was unexpectedly well. Many people say they were auto-tuned… but still… they were actors and actresses… really weren’t expecting them to be singers – especially Emma Watson. Anyhow… we had an amazing time and ready to eat again.
The restaurant was a surprise that my husband planned… apparently it is ranked #8 in Canada’s top restaurants. Truthfully I’ve never heard of it, and we actually missed it the first time because they didn’t have a big sign outside. Upon entering this humble little restaurant, we see a few tables on the left (which could probably serve 30ish people) and a fully open kitchen at the back. I was told the menu changed everyday depending on what was fresh in the market, and the bread was freshly baked when we entered. For those who know me.. I LOVE WARM BREAD so I liked this place already. Our waitress was quite attentive – our cups were always topped and she answered all our inquiries extremely well. After a sample of their homemade kombucha, we both had a glass instead of wine. Their kombucha were so flavorful with hints of fruit and floral flavors, I would go back just for that. Together, we ordered the cured trout (with fennel and horseradish) and smoked duck (with beets, and buckwheat) for appetizers, a halibut dish and a bavette dish for the mains.
Lets start with the bread. It was super soft, fresh, but served in a crochet bowl that looked oddly out of place. Instead of butter, they served the bread with cheese topped with fresh shallots and pepper. The cheese spread was definitely different and has a strong kick to it.. not a huge fan but my husband was quite impressed by it. Going onto the appetizers… we both preferred the smoke duck with the beets and popped buckwheat. It was a dish with great flavor and texture. The trout was smoked but the overall flavor just wasn’t really my thing. Moving on to the main dishes, the halibut was seared on one side which was super crispy, but a little overcooked in my opinion. We could definitely taste BUTTER used for searing, which also made this dish a lot heavier than it looked. It also came with white asparagus which I’ve never seen / tasted in my life. The white asparagus is more mild in flavor than the green ones, but holds the same crunchy texture. The bevette dish was AMAZING. We’ve never had a flank steak that was so tender. Hands down, the best dish we had that evening. For dessert, we had their homemade raspberry ice cream served with berries preserved and a cookie. The ice cream was good, a little small for sharing, and the cookies wasn’t want I imagined. Overall, we had a good meal and the price was reasonable, but not a restaurant we’ll be dying to return.
The part we actually looked forward to the most – Barchef. Unfortunately, when we arrived there was a note saying Barchef is closed for a private event, and will be open after 10:30 pm. It was only 8:30 so there was no way we could kill time for 2 hours (especially on a Wednesday night). We were extremely disappointed but the good news was… we made it home to put our baby to bed! And this was how our eventful anniversary date went. If anyone has suggestions for my next date night… please leave me a comment!