Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Marche in Toronto

The Marche - Fresh as Ever Almost Two Decades Later

So you are visiting Toronto and have a big group of business colleagues or a picky family in tow.

Everyone wants something different; be it Asian, red meat, vegan, Italian or Greek. With Toronto's incredibly diverse population, it is one of the best places to eat in North America. So your choices are varied and all of them are good. 

I have a solution worthy of Solomon. Let everyone have what they want. Head straight to the Santiago Calatrava designed Albert Lambert Galleria (formerly the BCE Place) and The Marche!

You will be deemed a hero by all.

First off, the architect part of me must speak. I am a big fan of Santiago Calatrava. He is a true original. He reads no one else's mail.

Much like America's Fay Jones, Calatrava's work has a definite signature, yet it remains distinctive. One look and you see his mastery of how structure works. You also can't help but notice how effortlessly he seems to create exuberant, light-filled places. The finished product takes a formerly leftover space and makes it feel almost ecclesiastic.

In this case the facility creates a year round space seamlessly knitting together buildings of many era's.

The Albert Lambert Galleria
By Valencia Born Architect Santiago Calatrava
(IMHO Old Alley's Don't Get Much Better Than This!)

In perfect "urban chic meets the knit cap crowd," the Galleria is also home to Toronto's Hockey Hall of Fame. Go figure!

Now on the The Marche.

This concept was developed by the Movenpick multi-national food conglomerate. The idea behind the Marche was to create a series of show kitchens around an almost indoor winter garden theme. You enter and are given a credit card. You then stroll past the stations to check out the paella stand, the rosti bar, the grille, the sushi chef, the wood fired pizza baker, the vegetarian bar, the pasta bar, the Seafood bar, the gelato bar, the fruit bar, or the baker. The choices are wide and varied. It feels like the food courts in various department stores in Europe. Everything is presented in dazzling colors and served up in more than ample portions.

Anywhere you select food you hand them your card. They scan the card to put in the price of whatever you select. You then find a comfortable place to sit and eat. Seems almost like a picnic. 

After you've eaten your fill, you go to the check-out station where your card is scanned and you settle up.

Everyone gets hot fresh food while maybe getting to sample what everyone else opted for. The concept is truly all things for all people.

I love it.

I first ate here almost 18 years ago when it was new and loved the concept. I was a little scared of going back to see if it was still there. We all know that the half-life of restaurants is pretty short in hyper-competitive markets like Toronto. The Marche was still there and it still felt fresh.

Oh, and the food was wonderful. I snapped a few pictures before the photo police came up and threatened bodily harm (I had missed the oh-so aesthetically embedded "no photos" sign.)

The Vegetarian Bar

Paella Getting Served

The Beautiful Paella Up Close


The Creperie

The Bakery

So put The Marche on your "fun places for a casual lunch or dinner" list whenever you are lucky enough to visit Toronto!

Pull out a camera at your own risk......

Roadboy's Travels © 2011

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