An inside look at every thing, and every bite, you'll soon be able to enjoy at The Well | TasteToronto
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An inside look at every thing, and every bite, you'll soon be able to enjoy at The Well

10 months ago

Updated: 10 months ago

When The Well opens this November, you’ll suddenly have a slew of dynamic new eateries vying for your appetite — and your dining dollars. A stunning development that spans more than seven acres and three million square feet of space divided between seven towers, the site is a (not so) small community erected smack dab in the heart of downtown. A far cry from its ho hum past, the area, which borders Front, Spadina and Wellington, is now kitted out with everything you’d expect from a billion dollar development. There are shops, banks, a daycare, an upscale health club, self-care spots, a multi-sensory immersive experience, green spaces and enough restaurants, both original and tried-and-true, to satisfy a lifetime of cravings, no matter the time of day or season. Tailored to office workers and residents, to tourists and locals, The Well satisfies anyone eager for new experiences and fresh finds. Now in its final phase of construction, The Well is nearly ready to welcome the masses to discover every thing, and every bite, it has to offer.

Walking through The Well in late July it’s hard to imagine it open for business in mere months. It’s alive with the clamor of construction, the bustle of tradespeople, and the sense of urgency that comes with working toward a tight deadline. Still, assures the team, on November 17th, the fences will be down, nearly every tenant will have moved in, the space will be scrubbed and cleaned, and the people — an estimated 22,000 per day if you count residents, employees and visitors — will start pouring in. "This is a space we built for Toronto to enjoy,” explains Jamie MacLean, manager, digital and experience, for The Well. “On November 17th we kick off the grand celebration, we unveil the space to the community, and introduce the holiday programming.”

Come mid-November, Toronto will finally get to see The Well in all its glory. It’s then that people will first discover the Wellington Restaurants, Wellington Market, Wellington Steps (sense a theme?) and every shop, eatery, and event designed to tie them all together. Beyond its sheer size and scope of offerings, The Well is impressive in its design and its plans for community engagement. Brought to life by Adamson Architects, HPA, BDP and GPA Architects, the look is sophisticated and fluid, with a dramatic, undulating glass canopy that provides protection from the elements as it connects one area of the complex to another. Meticulously built with five pillars, “Eat, Shop, Work, Live, Play,” in mind, The Well will offer every convenience imaginable. “The five pillars are integrated into the philosophy of everything we do,” says MacLean, citing “marketing, programming, community engagement and user engagement,” as areas of the development that are as indispensable as the foundation itself.

"This is going to be a thriving business hub but we don’t want to take ourselves too seriously,” says general manager, Anthony Casalanguida. “We’re really going to have fun with the ‘Eat’ and the ‘Play’ pillars,” adds MacLean, driving home the point. The fun starts at the Wellington Restaurants, a broad promenade designed by renowned landscape architect Claude Cormier. “I don’t think there’s a park in the city or a locale in the city that has as wide a boulevard as this one,” muses Casalanguida. “It’s going to be such a great go-to destination in itself,” adds MacLean. Designed with the future in mind, the linear park will move toward its full potential with time. As saplings grow, they’ll eventually shade diners enjoying al fresco meals on the numerous patios lining the walk.

On those patios, and inside, food will range from bistro classics and dishes that hum with the flavours of the coastline to weighty concoctions designed to sate midday cravings. Entering the Toronto market for the first time, Calgary-based Concorde Entertainment Group is opening two of the Wellington Restaurants this fall (National, a restaurant and entertainment venue, will take over a 20,000-square-foot space on Front Street, in 2024). With Brigitte Bardot as its muse, Bridgette Bar is a sophisticated spot with sublime cocktails and a roster of grilled options to match the sultry mood. At Lulu Bar, guests will enter a French Polynesian venue with light, vibrant offerings and an emphasis on tropical libations and the bar experience.

From Montreal, Mandy’s Gourmet Salads and L’Avenue will delight diners with plates of fresh, satisfying nourishment. A second Toronto location of the wildly popular chain, Mandy’s at The Well brings the eatery’s luxe look to a larger space. At L’Avenue, hearty, house-made takes on brunch classics will be served against a backdrop of nonchalant, urban chic. 

A French brasserie, La Plume is just one of three new Oliver & Bonacini restaurants at The Well. Designed by Solid Design Creative, the two-story location boasts a lower-level speakeasy, private venue space and swish main dining room. Here, rotisserie mainstays, a tartare bar, and plates inspired by the south of France will add to the charm of the devastatingly stylish room. Opening in 2024, The Dorset will find executive chef Ryan Lister cooking up a slew of dishes inspired by memories of a childhood spent on England’s southern shores. The third, as yet unnamed, O&B stunner, situated on the 38th floor and rooftop of The Well’s office tower, is set to captivate a city that thrills at skyward elevator rides that culminate in unobstructed views, elegant food and bespoke sips.

Further south, New York’s Prince Street Pizza will help populate the area of Front Street next to National. The chain’s first Canadian location, the restaurant is where Toronto will fall in love with signature Spicy Pepperoni Squares and a host of generously-garnished pies.

As guests wind their way through three levels of shops, they’ll find diverse retailers catering to a range of needs. They’ll also discover the Wellington Steps, an area in the heart of the complex with a dual function as conduit to the lower ground level and event space. Here, says MacLean, the stadium seating will entice guests to lounge as they take in live performances. First up? The Well’s holiday programming, which will “celebrate ice and light and sculpture against a Nordic palette,” says MacLean. Running until December 31st, the festivities will include a Champagne lounge and winter hideaway, a speakeasy, fire pits, entertainers, DJs, and live performances by artists from Warner Music Canada, who happen to have their headquarters at The Well. 

On the lower level, Wellington Market is a 70,000 square foot, fully-licensed area with a who’s who of food purveyors. Whatever you do, just don’t call this a food court. Designed by Giannone Petricone Associates, the sprawling space was created with European markets in mind. It was also planned to transition seamlessly from hectic lunch hours to lively Friday nights, with ambient lighting, a DJ booth, and folding glass doors that connect the space to the adjacent retail colonnade.

Inside Wellington Market, guests will discover more than 50 merchants hawking everything from fresh groceries and elevated grab-and-go, to fast-casual favourites. “This is a classic food hall, a proper market,” explains MacLean. “It’s designed to service six residential buildings and 36 floors of office tenants who are going to migrate down here.” With an opening lineup that will allow guests to satisfy savoury cravings at Gus Tacos, Hooky’s, La Cubana, Japadog, The Samosarie, and more before sweetening their lives at Nord Lyon, Isabella’s Mochi Donut Boutique and Sweetie Pie, Wellington Market is a gourmand’s idea of a remarkably good time.

“Traditional shopping centres tend to want to isolate themselves from the community. What we’ve created here, because it’s so walkable, is a high degree of permeability from various communities,” says Anthony Casalanguida. Designed as an extension of the King Street West neighbourhood, The Well melds style with a shrewd understanding of what people want. Come November, once you get a taste of everything on offer, you might never want to leave.