Monthly Archives: July 2014

Joey’s Restaurant @ Markville Mall

Joey’s Restaurant

Address: #1247 – 5000 Hwy 7 East, Markham, ON, L3R 4M9

Phone: (905) 604 – 5639

Website: www.joeyrestaurants.com

Screen-shot-2013-04-26-at-9.09.27-PMJoey’s is a Canadian chain restaurant that is conveniently located next to Cadillac Fairview managed malls, ie. Markville Mall, Eaton Centre, Yorkdale Mall, Shop on Don Mills.  Situated next to the large malls in Toronto has the best advertisement and attraction, as it is easy to find and has the best exposure.

Joeys-008The one I visited was at Markville Mall, Markham.  Restaurant is easily seen and accessed from Hwy 7.  All Joey Restaurants share the same menu with deviation in the culinary skill and style.  And, the restaurant interior theme and mood is similar to the other Joey’s.

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Entrance, waiting area Credit: AMDI Inc.

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Bar, Dining Area Credit: AMDI Inc.

Wood, brick and metal are the biggest elements of the restaurant.  With the patio doors and windows open, allowing the breeze circulate through the restaurant, this space is transformed into an upbeat, modern cottage-like environment.  During the winter season, these wall-like windows and elements act as an insulator, keeping the space warm and cozy.  Joeys welcomes everyone to relax and enjoy after work drinks or weekend gatherings.  Service was fast and everyone was on top of things.  Our server was stirring a small conversation with us and so optimistic.  She gave us good reassurance and reviews about the drinks we ordered.  Felt very hopeful~

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On the right, Blueberry Mojito ($10) 2oz was mixed with pearl blueberry vodka, blueberries, fresh lime juice and mint leaves.  The mint adds a hint of freshness and chill to the drink.  Blueberries were fun to dig for, felt like tapioca.  However, 3/4 of the drink was filled with ice.  As the ice melts, the drink becomes watered down alcohol or a cup of water in general.  At some point, the price did not justify the quality of the drink.

On the left, Passionfruit Margarita ($7.50) 1.25oz was made with passionfruit, mango, El Jimador tequila, fresh squeezed lime and egg whites.  The initial sip, all I could taste was the tequila, and further down the bottom of the cup was the fruity flavour.  Therefore, it was not mixed well enough.  Stir it, for a true taste.  Overall, I find this drink more enjoyable than Blueberry Mojito because less ice and felt more like a cocktail, very fruity.

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Steak & Sushi ($24.75) was a Japanese surf & turf, tataki style of CAB Prime steak, Ponzu sauce, and rainbow roll.  This dish felt like, “when the west meets the east”.  This entree was not how I envisioned it to be.  I thought of a piece of steak instead of strips of steak.  Nonetheless, it was cooked medium rare, soft tender slices and juicy; fresh steak.  The sushi was bland, despite the sauces smothered on the roll.  Even with the soy sauce and wasabi, the sushi was still tasteless.  The rice was soft and they only used “crab stick salad” as the middle filling.  Therefore, the sushi was relatively disappointing and quality was similar to the supermarket sushi products.

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Baja Fish Tacos ($14.50) had basa, shrimp, corn tortillas, and guacamole filling; fresh lime slice where you can squeeze juices onto the taco.  The entree came with 3 tacos, which were seasoned lightly and crunchy with the fresh tomatoes and lettuce bits.  Each of the tacos had 3 pieces of fish.  The fried fish was very tender and light.  My only complaint was the fried skin was cold and soft instead of crispy.  As to the shrimp, it was nowhere to be found.  The red sauce was very spicy, fury hot.  Do not use the sauce if you are sensitive to spiciness.  Even so, the tacos were much more enjoyable, as it had an exciting spectrum of flavours.

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Fries ($4) on the side or as our appetizer.  It was interesting how the fries came the same time as our two entrees, but we went for the fries before anything else.  It was way too addictive; thinly sliced, crunchy, crispy, lightly salted fries.

Joeys Restaurant is a go-to place, if you are planning to have a casual gathering or a happy hour drinks night.  Joeys is different from the other chain restaurants. ie. Keg, Milestones, Swiss Chalet, which are aiming to be family restaurants.  They aim for the group, who are working hard, trying to reach their goals but not forgetting about their quality of life.  Maybe it opened less than a year ago, the chefs and assistance are trying to improve their culinary skills and taste.  There is a lot of room for improvement.  I am hopeful! =)

Ratings

Food 3.25/5

Ambiance 4/5

Service 4/5

JOEY Markville on Urbanspoon

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Unionville Main St.

Unionville Main Street

Website: http://www.unionvilleinfo.com

800px-Unionville_SignTucked into the northeast corner of the Greater Toronto Area, in the heart of City of Markham, is the well known heritage village of Unionville, a great place to enjoy with family and friends.  Unionville was founded in 1794 and a lot of the original European or Victorian architecture were maintained till this day.  There will always be festivals and shops to venture, served as a local tourism development plan.

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On a Monday evening, we decided to just take a post dinner walk along Main Street for some exercise.  Many locals share the same interest as us, especially during the summer time, to enjoy the weather and some dessert.  Families pushing the baby stroller, elders sitting at the patio, young children laughing, crying and pleading for ice cream or dessert, couples holding hands and on dates were among the activities seen and heard.

This intimate neighborhood has many festivals and celebration throughout the year- fireworks on July 1st Canada’s Day, Jazz Festival performances on the stage at the park, food festivals from the renowned restaurants, skating during the winter and many more.  The council has the idea and creativity to bring everyone from around together.

Strolling along the streets of historic Unionville made me feel like I was at the Shire, from Lord of the Rings or Hobbit – the greens, brick architecture, moss, stone paved sidewalks, intimate peaceful space, rustic countryside appearance.  Hidden within Markham, Unionville is like a subdivision of its own, with its own style and uniqueness.

A must go place for me

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Old Firehall Confectionery

Website: www.oldfirehallconfectionery.com/index.php

They sell ice cream, handmade chocolate and assorted candy.  This is a heaven to me, or someone who has sweet craving.  I felt like a 3 year old, my eyes shining like stars, admiring and inhaling the world of candy and sweets!  I’m not the only one, there were many others who were waiting in the long line up ordering and paying.  Happiness and satisfied!

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The back wall was lined with candy dispensers.  I was ecstatic when I saw the cherry coke bottle and sour coke bottle gummy candy because they are a rare find.  The place I used to buy my candy from closed down couple of years ago and I could no longer find it, even in Bulk Barn.  The opportunity and chance has come, too hard to resist!
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Look at the container of candies I bought! =D $5.99 for a variety, as much as you want, given you can put the lid the lid on.  Look at the busy line!  Cute place, eh?!

 

Bannock

Bannock

Address: 401 Bay St. Toronto, ON

Phone: (416) 861-6996

Website: oliverbonacini.com/bannock.aspx

Bannock is another restaurant under the Oliver & Bonacini Corporation located at one of the busiest intersection of Downtown Toronto.  Conveniently and intelligently positioned on public transportation routes, near Eaton Centre, Hudson’s Bay Company and Nathan Phillips Square – Toronto City Hall, the restaurant will not have a lack of tourists nor blue-collared shirts.  Bannock takes on a different edge, where they focus more on grab & go options and comfort food dine-in menu.

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Credits: What to do Toronto

The open concept is complimented with a modern contemporary touch, resulting in a comfortable, soothing atmosphere.  Utilizing the earthly natural wooden panels glued on the walls and on chairs, while keeping the colour tones neutral as beige and white, resulted in a warm and comfortable restaurant environment. The large windows surrounding the restaurant area and the expansive openness makes the overall effect very welcoming and organized.

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Credits: What to do Toronto

We went on a Sunday morning to try their brunch menu for birthday celebration. At the entrance, a large glass showcase of readily made gourmet sandwiches, pastries and salads were prepared for the on-the-run crew. Looked healthy! Mouth watering!  Service was great – responsive, tentative, and warm.  Our server was giving us recommendations and day specials, while we were deciding on what to order.

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Free Run Turkey Burger ($16) was prepared with condiments of tempura onion, avocado and a dill pickle mayo sauce. It came with a few vegetable chips on the side.  The chips were thickly cut and quite hard, requires strong teeth to tear it apart.  However, it was not oily at all and seasoned with adequate amount of salt.  I quite liked it for a different texture and has a sweet taste to it, while absorbing the fiber and nutrients.  No surprise from the burger.  The turkey patty was tasty and juicy, while the sauce was not very distinct.  It was quite a generic burger, despite having the jazzy ingredients.  Overall, quite a healthy choice, was not heavy in general.

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Roast Duck Poutine Pizza ($16) was made curds, fries, duck, and accompanied by the recommended nasty sauce on the side.  The nasty sauce was an attractive sour and very spicy sauce.  The first sample of the sauce was bearable, but the more you try it, the more if feels like your tongue had gone on fire.  The pizza was a successful combination of two comfort foods.  With a thin crust and a lot of toppings, the pizza was baked just about right to be crunchy and crispy.  The juices all retained to make the pizza extremely flavourful and fun to eat.  Not too complicated or overwhelmed by the burst of toppings~

Huge potion sizes, we could barely finish it.  For an early Sunday brunch, I enjoyed the lightness of the meal, and little oil.  The environment was just great and relaxing, with quite a bit of privacy to feel comfortable.   The creativity behind the culinary staff and philosophy behind the restaurant has made Bannock an exquisite restaurant.

Rating

Food 3.5/5

Service 4/5

Ambiance 4/5

 

Bannock on Urbanspoon

The Links Road Animal & Bird Clinic

The Links Road Animal & Bird Clinic

Address: 41 The Links Road.  Toronto, Ontario M2P 1T7

Phone: (416) 223 – 1165

Website: thelinksroadanimalclinic.com/

Pet owners know how to relate animals as a family member and how they are emotionally connected to them.  Whenever something arises, the panic attack, the worries, the nervous system fires and attack us.  Therefore, it is EXTREMELY important to have a reliable, knowledgeable and sympathetic veterinarian.

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Our family has a pet red-ear slider turtle, in other words, a reptile, for at least a decade.  I come from a weird family, does not like the usual things, like being un-ordinary and sort of weird.  The weirder the better.  We only got the turtle because the Japanese electronic pets, Tamagochi, was very popular.  My mother was not fond of the electronic or fake idea because we cannot get the full experience, brought us to the pet store and *TADA*.  We came home with new pet turtle, which till this day, still has no name.

It surprises me how turtle has quite a character because you’d be thinking, it doesn’t make sounds and spends all day in the water swimming or on the sun bathing deck absorbing natural sunlight.  However, she gets excited when it is feeding time, swimming quickly, splashing water and eagerly stares up at your spoonful of pellets.  She pounds on the tank if you are disturbing her sleep schedule.  She is very curious to a new environment.  She is a very cute, attentive, bossy and funny turtle.  We care about it.

Like all other creatures, turtles can catch an illness too.  She had a habit of crawling on rough surfaces, gradually sloughing and thinning the plastron (bottom of the shell).  4 years ago, she had symptoms of shell infection because of the pink marks, lack of appetite and movement (all from assumption, internet research, e-mails and doctor’s dignosis).  This was mainly how we discovered The Links Animal and Bird Clinic.

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Credits to: Yellow Pages

The clinic specializes in reptiles, avian, and unusual animals, and highly recommended by all veterinary clinic in the York Region area.  It was quite an awesome experience.  I was sitting in the waiting area with the turtle, and surrounded by parrots, budgies, rodents of sorts and gecko or lizard of sorts.  I felt like I was sitting in a zoo.

Next up, I was extremely pleased and satisfied with the doctors and technicians.  They were very gentle with the handling of the turtle; so soft that the turtle felt so relaxed and not frightened at all.  They asked a lot of living environment questions and gave us recommendations to improve the quality of life, pamphlets and diet samples.  They were very patient with the turtle, showing us how to feed the medication.  Extremely tentative because we bombarded them with phone calls when we had trouble feeding turtle with medicine using the syringe.  The technician slowly guided us over the phone.

This year, 2014, she has a weakened leg and ‘constipated’.  The vet took x-rays and blood tests to determine the problem.

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Once again, I am impressed with the flow of the clinic and the attitude they had for the animals, making the owners at ease.  GREAT WORK!

STOCK Restaurant Bar & Lounge AKA America

America AKA STOCK Restaurant Bar & Lounge @ TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL & TOWER TORONTO

Address: 325 Bay St. 31st Floor , Toronto, ON M5H 3C2

Phone: (416) 637-5550

Site: stockrestaurant.com/

America or STOCK Restaurant Bar & Lounge, located on the 31st floor of the Trump Hotel is situated in the heart of financial district of Downtown Toronto, which is easily accessible via TTC and by foot, walking along the underground PATH.  From the outside, it looks like any ordinary offices, sharing the same exterior as its neighbours.  I have never pictured TRUMP Hotel to be surrounded by the Big 5 accounting firms and bank towers.  The convenience of the location, the targeted audience and atmosphere makes this Oliver & Bonacini restaurant a success.

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Picture Credit to Savoir Faire Luxe

The moment you enter the lobby of the TRUMP Hotel, you are captivated by the sophisticated eclectic interior design. The beautiful cherry blossom artwork made of crystals is the eye-catching centre piece in the lobby.  The lobby is quite small, therefore, big windows are utilized to bring in more light, to brighten up the space.  A lot of reflective materials are used for every surface to make the space appear large and grand.  I compliment on the colours chosen; dark colours to bring out the sparkles of the crystals and the gold.  You know this is a 5-star hotel from the classy and expensive materials used to decorate the lobby and the smiles and service provided at the front desk and concierge. They were very helpful and patient with our “dumb” question of where STOCK restaurant was.

Anxious, desperate hungry minds taking the refined elevator to the 31st floor for dinner, came to realize…”Are we a bit too under dressed for this?  We are looking too casual.  Time for selfies!”  At some point, the decor reminded me a lot of the Great Gatsby movie by Leonardo DiCaprio, the glam of the rich, the grandeur of the mansions, somewhat living an American dream.

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With the server leading the way to our table, I helped myself to admire the fanciness of the restaurant.  I thought I stood inside a great hall infinity times more beautiful than Hogwarts.  30 feet high ceiling and the immaculate wall art immediately grabbed my attention.  *Honestly, I lost my words.*  The elegant black and white themed dining hall offers a impeccable open air dining experience.  With the bright lights of Toronto beaming through the windows and internally reflect on the interior surfaces cause STOCK to shine within, absorbing the Toronto night lights.

We came to STOCK Restaurant and Bar to try their Summerlicious menu ($45).

Appetizer

wpid-20140712_180542.jpgChilled English Pea Soup was made with pingue prosciutto , mint creme fraiche and pea tendrils.  It was quite refreshing with the cold minty flavour and bits and pieces of peas submerged on the bottom.  Thou, the more I had the soup, the saltier it got and slowly I lost my interest in it.  Maybe chilled soups not my thing because it cooled down my stomach and slowly lost my appetite.  Nonetheless, I think the soup was well made and worth the try.

wpid-20140712_180606.jpgBay Scallop & Atlantic Salmon Ceviche of avocado creme fraiche, yuzu and togarashi popcorn was interesting.  It was my friend’s choice and I got to try a bit of it.  To simplify things, my opinion is: fresh scallops and salmon that has the paprika-like powder covering all natural flavours.  It was relatively salty.  Furthermore, I am not sure if I enjoyed the popcorn mixture because it was soft and crunchy at the same time, losing the essence of the course.

Mains

wpid-20140712_182134.jpgRoasted Royal Sea Bream & Calamari Marinara had house made chorizo, fregola, malbec-stewed tomato, basil as sides.

wpid-20140712_182124.jpgRoasted Corner Farm Veal Loin was made with creme fraiche whipped Yukon gold potatoes, northern woods mushrooms as sides and complimented with a classic green peppercorn sauce.  The mashed potatoes were very buttery and light, like ice cream.  The veal was tender and done just perfectly.  Taste of the overall dish was very peppercorn-ed, but paired with the mushrooms and peas, it neutralized the heavy peppercorn taste.

Desserts

wpid-20140712_184638.jpgFlourless Fudge Cake is complimented with drunken cherries, apricots, aged balsamic, and milk chocolate sauce.  Amazing chocolate cake, as it was light, not overly sweet.

wpid-20140712_184623.jpgStrawberry Pavlova was mixed with Niagara ice wine stewed rhubarb, lime chantilly, and toasted pistachios.  Crunchy and light meringue, fused with a mixture of sweet and sour fruit sauce.  This dessert activates your taste buds and spices up your appetite.

STOCK Restaurant & Bar is, no doubt, a beautifully decorated classy restaurant with warm, polite service.  Surrounded by the concrete forest, the view outside the window is not a big wow-factor, hence, they played with light reflections to make it more attractive, which was very intelligent of the designers.  Being under the Oliver & Bonacini empire, the meal was guaranteed for quality ingredients and culinary skills.  Though, I confess if you have tried other restaurants under O&B, this meal will not be a surprise, as they taste relatively quite similar.  Overall, I give this Summerlicious menu a 3.75/5.  I recommend to have a meal there to enjoy the environment and the decor.

Stock Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Four Season Noodle House

Four Season Noodle House

Address: 10593 Yonge St. Richmond Hill, ON L4C 3C5

Phone: (905) 884-7500

Four Season Noodle House is located at the once-upon-a-time (20 years ago) Harvey’s or Pizza Hut building, next to the old Richmond Hill neighbourhoods’ bowling alley.  Former restaurant, at the same location, was named Shiki All-You-Can-Eat Sushi, but changed business after two years to the current noodle house.  If you do not want to travel all the way south to the Korean Towns,  I definitely recommend trying this family owned restaurant for some authentic foods.

I feel this restaurant is quite understated and somewhat ignored because every time I eat there, only few tables are occupied.  I always wonder, how can you  maintain the restaurant with slow traffic but good quality?!  I therefore, decided to write about them and inform others of this hidden gem that is definitely worth trying.  *word of mouth*

Staff is friendly and tentative.  I love their smiles~  They give you recommendations, if you ask.  Because this is a family owned restaurant, they are more personal, like your friends.  *I think the owner’s wife remembers me by now*  Side dishes come out before you even order; while the entrees do take some time, but no more than 15 minutes.

The interior decor is newly renovated.  There are more booths and definitely looks cleaner and sleeker than before.  The booths provide more privacy and as a sound barrier from surrounding.  There is a slight modern look to it, compared to the before-Shiki.  Even with the change, I have to confess, the interior decor is quite boring, despite harmony is achieved by utilizing lines, forming similar shapes and through similar tones of colours.  Nonetheless, still quite a comfortable space to sit and eat in.

The menu focused on Korean Cuisine.  Even though the name of the restaurant indicates a noodle house, but you still find stews, dumplings and hot pot as well.  Therefore, it has a good enough variety, before getting too complicated.

IMG-20140217-WA0003I love Korean food for the side dishes they serve before your entree. This is also the first restaurant, I have tried, that serve pancakes as a side dish.  It was soft, very flavourful and healthy, with all the carrots and cucumbers in it.  Also, it was not oily.  They had the BEST kimchi ever in the GTA.  When you go to other Korean restaurants or the tubs purchased from supermarket, the kimchi has mostly vinegar sour taste to it, and too much juice.  But the kimchi from Four Season, sourness and spiciness was well blend together.  Just adequate amounts of both flavours rush out and begin your appetite, slowly yearning for more.  BUT, I wish they have the potatoes though, so it fulfills the sweet buds, along with the sour, salty and spicy.

wpid-20140704_192844.jpgThe Shiki Dumplings ($8.99 for 10 pieces), pork and vegetable filling, were HUGE.  They were freshly made and steamed.  Have fun taking 2 bites and have your mouth stuffed.  *OMNOMNOM*  The only improvement I suggest is the plating display.  The heat emits fast, therefore, they turn cold exceptionally fast.  Maybe, think of a way to conserve the heat and maintain its warmth for a longer time.

IMG-20140217-WA0004Steamed Pork Slices ($19.99) came in a big serving size, neatly organized.  Essentially, it is pork hock steamed with black taffy, soy sauce and ginger, served with garlic, spicy peppers and sauce.  There are couple ways of eating this dish – wrap it in lettuce with the condiments provided (like peking duck) or without the lettuce.  The texture of the pork slices were really soft and with the fat boiled out, so it does not feel heavy.  Flavour is simple, a lot of soy sauce.  I find the condiments more interesting because it enhances or balances the taste of the pork.

IMG-20140217-WA0002Spicy Dumpling Hot Pot ($23.99 for 2 servings) – Pork dumplings cooked with tofu, mushrooms, peppers and green onion in a spicy soup, served with noodles.  2 servings was more than enough to feed 3 people.  The broth was not as spicy as they claim it to be.  It reminded me of the NONSHIM instant noodles broth.  I for sure got my vegetable servings for the day, SO much.  I love mushrooms.  Put the noodles in as soon as it starts boiling because the noodles will absorb the flavour and will be very chewy.  *handmade noodles*.  Remember to reduce the heat because the broth will evaporate and will not taste as good.

This is definitely a more successful restaurant than Shiki Sushi.  The biggest improvements I noticed was the interiors, and food choice was fresh, simpler and easy to taste.  Not as complicated~  Sushi has too much variables and can easily go wrong.  Therefore, I think they made a right decision to serve Korean foods and tackling the appropriate crowd.  I can rightfully give Four Season Noodle House 3.75/5.  Maybe you will like it too 🙂

Four Season Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Covernotes Tea and Coffee House

Covernotes Tea and Coffee House

Address: 10267 Yonge St. Richmond Hill, ON. L4C 3B7

Website: www.covernotescoffee.com/

On a hot summer day, I decided to walk along the historic streets of Richmond Hill and stumbled upon Covernotes, carrying a heart full of curiosity.

wpid-20140704_203755.jpgCovernotes’ storefront is a restored high school in the Town of Richmond Hill from the late 1800s, which, currently adjoins the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts.  The architecture has gone through a lot of fires and rebuilt quite a few times.  In the decade, the building has been reformed, expanded and repainted to fit the town’s modernization plan.    However, the aged, rustic aura is still recognizable.

wpid-20140704_210105.jpgIt must be quite a luxury to go to school then.  I visualize and assume, there must only be a minimal amount of students going to school back then, and all age groups in the same room, learning same things because it does look a bit small compared to the schools we attend nowadays.

wpid-20140704_205757.jpgThe owners are very supportive of local Canadian farmers for their fresh produce.  Their selection of coffee and teas are imported from Africa.  They have a wide variety of food and drink options, along with prepackaged coffee and tea for sale too.  Their coffees and lattes are very aromatic and not overly bitter.  On their condiments table, they offer a jug of water of endless refills, sometimes with a few slices of fruit, making it more refreshing, and definitely feels more welcoming.  The store front is kept very clean and neat.  I respect the hard work and commitment the staff has for shop.  They are extremely friendly and helpful, answering any questions you have.

wpid-20140704_203933.jpgI LOVE THE ENVIRONMENT, as it is very relaxing, laid back, comfortable and intimate.  First half of the store front is the sitting and food area.  And behind is lined with bookshelves, organized in alphabetical order by author and genre, like a miniature library.  This part is definitely like treasure hunting, where you stumble upon used rare books and antiques.  You can buy the books too, of course for a bargaining price.  *I found two first editions Nancy Drew hardcover books; ones that I have never read before.  I swear I was gleaming in joy.  No second thoughts, I went to pay for these books and bought them for less than $5!  How much cheaper can it get, when at Indigo, it is at least $8 per book.  Good Deal!*  If you do not buy a book or two, you are more than welcome to take a seat, read a book or newspaper or magazine and enjoy a drink or a snack.  Slow down and take your time!

wpid-20140704_205920.jpgThey are pretty much a localized version of Starbucks, except the owners do their own product sourcing and better service.  Despite having the public library down the road from them, this is a comparable to a small collectibles bookshop.  You can still find New York Best Sellers on the shelf, meanwhile, also having its old and dirty collection.  Every time I come here, there are small groups of friends gathered together to study or to catch up on things.  In conclusion, Covernotes is a very cute and neat place to check out or hang out at.

Covernotes tea and coffee house on Urbanspoon