Escapism Has Landed: EscapismTO’s Launch @ Assembly Chef’s Hall
Escapism Toronto Launch Party
Well, beaches, I’m back in Toronto after 3 years Seoulcialiting it up in Korea. Over 1,000 days have gone by, but the agency launch parties haven’t changed a bit. Most of the faces look the same and the dress-code of hobo-chic vs. try-hards continues to identify who is on the list and who came as a plus one. Seriously, if you want to sneak into an event, dress like you rushed over from a job you hate. Fit in by acting like it’s suuuuuch a chore to enjoy the cocktails finely tuned for the event’s theme. Don’t you dare tip your bartenders (read: please do tip your bartenders – don’t be a dick). Rush over anytime food comes out. Don’t be afraid to knock anyone in your path out of your way. Ensure you appear to be pulling teeth with every impeccable morsel. Anyway – I thought the party was good and wasn’t too scene to show it.
Escapism Launch at Assembly Chef’s Hall
The crowd at last night’s Escapism Toronto Magazine launch was mixed. I met a couple of catering and event managers from local Toronto restaurants, a real estate developer who brought her husband for the open bar and free food, some guy who literally just walked in, and I rubbed elbows with some socially awkward PR girls. I say “rubbed elbows” because they were at the bar taking up prime real estate all night, too timid to actually order one of the cocktails crafted for the event. Wine, beer, and bubbles were on hand, too. They ran out of sparkling. My preferences of the two theme cocktails was called “Up, Up, and Away”. It was a gin-based cocktail with Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic made with Angostura bark and garnished with a raspberry and blackberry. The other was some overly sweet catastrophe of brown sugar and aged dark rum garnished with a black cherry.
Assembly Chef’s Hall Toronto
In reality, Escapism’s launch party for their Toronto iteration was a lovely event. It’s the first promotional party in the city I wanted to actually cover in a post here on The Toronto Seoulcialite. Assembly Chef’s Hall, not to be confused with General Assembly Pizza or Assembly Hall in Etobicoke, is an upscale cafeteria at 111 Richmond St. W. It’s open Monday – Friday 7 AM – 10 PM, Saturday from 10 AM – 10 PM, and is closed on Sundays. The space, home to Tokyo Smoke, Reyna, Hibiscus, Dailo, Ramen Isshin, The Good Son Pizza, Bulldog Coffee, Tachi, Little Khao, Cherry Street Bar-B-Que, Mira Mira, Resto Boemo, Shari, Nutbar, Love Chix, Colibri, Bluenose Lobster, and Short & Sweet. The decor is chic and totally instagram-worthy.
Top row from left: Texas Brisket Sliders (Cherry St BBQ), Sunflower Kale Caesar (Mira Mira), Margherita Pizza (The Good Son), Sweet & Sour Pork Hock (Dailo), Assorted Mini Tacos (Colibri), Assorted Bars (Short & Sweet), Assorted Sammies (Short & Sweet).
The Food @ Escapism’s Debut
You’ve gotta hand it to the team – there really was plenty of food circulating throughout the event. Most servers went so far as to drop actual trays on the tables, allowing people to load up on an eclectic mix of nibbles. Not pictured were the Fries with Chilli Aioli (Resto Boemo – as I’m pretty sure you know what French fries look like) or the Lamb Baklava (Reyna). The presentation was lovely and the lamb was moist and tender, but the honey mustard was absolute overkill. I felt like the adorable little poof was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
My favourite dish of the night was Dailo’s pork hock. Dailo was actually one of the last Toronto restaurants I visited before moving to Korea. I’m glad to see it’s still around and that it has expanded as well. A close second was Colibri with their tiny, but epic, tacos. I wish I had been able to get descriptions of each because those bad boys were loaded to high heaven. The baja fish taco had the perfect amount of crispy batter and a good chunk of flaky, white fish. I’m glad it was just the one mini taco, though. On a bigger handmade corn tortilla with that aioli drizzle I would have felt all kind of guilty. Then came the dessert sandwiches. How anyone could resist this assortment of chocolate chip, birthday cake sprinkles, red velvet, and oreo cookie sandwiches was beyond me. I’ll have to stay far, far away from Short & Sweet unless I want to be Tall & Morbidly Obese once again.
Escapism: The Magazine
Escapism Toronto reads a bit like a coffee table book. The magazine has plenty of ads, articles and advertorials. Suresh Doss is the Editor at Large. You’ll probably recognize him from any major foodie event over the past 5+ years as well as a food guide for CBC Toronto and Metro Morning. He’s well known and well-respected by the food and beverage community in the 6ix, and It’s a slow start, but don’t lose interest. Escapism ramps up toward the end in its “Experiences” and “Excursions” sections.
Just Landed – Escapism p. 24
Just Landed (Escapism Toronto pages “Just Landed” gives snapshots of Chile, International Tourism in Europe, the new Ritz-Carlton yacht collection, Sheldon Chalet in Alaska, and Hotel X Toronto. I hope to see a little more continuity in future issues. This could be a great way to offer highlights of the latest and greatest, but it lacked focus.
The Travelist – Escapism p. 26
This questionable fluidity continues into “The Travelist” an article about spending time with a local which mentions Guadalajara and Barcelona in the tagline, but only offers a tidbit each for Guadalajara and Bari. It was also confusing to see ADPugliaM tours, Meetup, ShowAround, and ToursByLocals listed in the actual article (with no supporting information about any) then highlights of Skyscanner, Hopper, and Mamondo (all flight deal sites) in the margin instead.
Room Service – Escapism p. 28
“Room Service”, an article on Cambridge Ontario’s Langdon Hall, doesn’t talk about in-room dining or the rooms themselves. Instead, it profiles the deluxe hotel’s atmosphere, history, wellness centre, nature trails, and mentioned the restaurant.
Hot Shots – Escapism p. 30
Escapism has its first hit in “Hot Shots”, a one-pager showing 3 instagram pictures from Lisbon, Portgual. The captions aren’t included, but the blurb shares a little about each account (@Rodrigoo, @Lisbonscape, and @FabioBF) which are given photo credit.
Short Stay (Escapism pages 32-33)
On page 32 I finally get what I was looking for with Escapism. This “Short Stay” feature on Montreal has a landscape feature photo of vieux Montréal with cobblestones, plenty of flags, and signs for bière and poutine. Sign me up! Best of all? No humans – hallelujah. In the margin there are options to get to Montreal by trains, planes, and automobiles (Megabus, too). History, a hotel recommendation, shopping tips, big-name brewery, and 3 must-visit spots are highlighted in this 2-page spread. “Long Stay” is dedicated to Mexico City. I would have liked to have seen a nod to Toronto in this inaugural issue.
Experiences (Escapism Toronto Magazine pages 38-66)
Pages 38-66 highlight off-the-beaten path locales in Europe. In “The Road Less Travelled”, suggestions are made to veer you away from tourist traps. “Ready for Rome? Try Palermo” titles one section. While I don’t think you should skip out on La Citta Eterna, Vito Corleone would probably agree with Escapism’s choice! One thing’s for sure, if this image is any indication of what Belgrade looks like on the regular I’m going to need to hop on the next flight over…
Sandro Pehar’s photography of Hungary brings old world charm in “Hungary for More”. Copenhagen looks like an architecture junkie’s dream in “Life on the Harbour”. “London Crawling” shows us an Dinerama which “features over a dozen food stalls set in a repurposed bullion truck depot.” (Jessica Huras, p. 66) Was the event itself a nod to something already found on Escapism’s pages?
Excursions (Escapism Toronto pages 67-98)
Experiences and Excursions make up the bulk of the Escapism you can sink your teeth into. A checklist of essential travel gear for a trip to Europe breaks up the sections. I guess running shoes were on that list for a reason as “The Intrepid Series” focused on a triathlon in Sardinia. You couldn’t pay me to run past those views, but I would accept payment in the form of food & rum from “A Dose of Vitamin Sea” bringing us the sights, sounds, and smells (well – I’m imagining) of Barbados. There’s a festival October 18th – 21st and I’m pretty sure it’s got Seoulcialite written all over it!
Club Med Resorts, Valencia (Spain), Vancouver (Canada), and Luoping (China) round out the rest of the magazine in a much more interesting an accessible manner than the slow start. It’s like the first half of the magazine was getting sponsorship out of the way so they could dive into the passion. I love the idea of Toronto’s Conde Nast Traveller. I hope to see more articles like the ones in the final 3rd. I wish Escapism (and Foodism) lots of luck. Pick up a copy and let me know how your thoughts!
Evidently there was a presentation – we stuck around for over 2 hours and heard nothing, so we figured the event was wrapping up once desserts were passed. Whoops! I would have liked to hear thoughts from the team.
About Escapism Magazine
The award-winning magazine originates in England, where it has reigned as the highest circulating travel title in the UK for the past four years. Its launch in Toronto signifies the first international destination for the brand.
Escapism is now the second “freemium” title from publishing house Square Up Media to launch in Toronto. Foodism, London’s leading food and drink magazine, launched here in October 2016 and has quickly secured its position as a leading voice in the city. Escapism follows a similar format of premium design, high quality stock and striking covers as its sister-title. It’s produced locally with an editorial, design and advertising team based in downtown Toronto. The launch issue has secured big name sponsors including WestJet, Tourism Thailand, G Adventures, Beam Suntory and Club Med.
“I’m incredibly proud of the product my team has produced,” says Publisher Krista Faist. “We’ve put together an exceptional first issue and hope it serves as a great source of travel inspiration for Torontonians. We always said that Foodism was only the beginning for us and we look forward to continuing to produce first-class content for the city.”
Mi5 is printing the magazine, with Fuse Experiential Marketing handling the distribution and staffing.
A full online version of the magazine is available to read on ISSUU here.
Escapism Toronto is the city’s new travel title. 50,000 magazines are distributed quarterly at key downtown locations. The print magazine is complemented by Escapism.TO – an interactive website and weekly newsletter providing readers with a mid-week dose of travel inspiration. For more information visit www.escapism.to.
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