by Malcolm Jolley
At 8:27 AM on the morning of February23, 2011, General Manager Susan Bowman opened the door to the new All The Best Fine Foods store. After years in a temporary trailer, Bowman was relieved to be back in the distinctive early Victorian building at 1101 Yonge Street, just south of the CPR tracks at Summerhil, in which All The Best began in1984. Relieved and proud. The new store full of light, highlighting striking arrays of products on wooden shelves on the wall like carefully chosen olive oils, vinegars and pastas. At the front is bar area where patrons can enjoy a pressed sandwich or a capuccino before they shop. By 4pm that afternoon a steady flow of epicureans and ATB customers was streaming through the door, congratulating Bowman and looking carefully around Toronto’s newest culinary destination.
Interspersed with the products on the north wall are caches of cookbooks. Bowman explained to GFR that Alison Fryer of The Cookbook Store is curating the selection, which balances classics with hot new titles and, of course, All The Best’s Jane Rodmell’s cookbooks. Towards the back of the large store is the counter holding prepared foods, from full dinners to quick snacks like soups and sandwiches. Breads have moved up to the front of the store, while much of the south wall holds refridgerators for everything from dips, double cream and chicken pot pies. In an adjoining freezer is everything from ‘Sausages Wellington’ to Vikram Vij’s curries, “imported” weekly from Vancouver.
One of the things that makes the new version of All The Best different from previous incarnations is their much anticipated “Cheese Room”. Framed at the back of the store by a 19th Century porch from Southwestern Ontario, the cheese room allows All The Best to expand their already ambitious cheese program with increased counter space and refridgeration. Several hours in, the opening looked very much like a success.