What Happened To The Idea of Being ‘A Regular’?

I remember moving to Toronto just over seven years ago from Ottawa. It wasn’t the first time I had tried to come to the city that has always felt like home to me, but it was finally the attempt that allowed me to stay and set down roots.

You have to understand that being born in Montreal, and for the most part growing up in Ottawa, Toronto is not an easy city to move to if you don’t have your proverbial ducks lined up in a row. But December 23rd 2012, I moved in with two friends into a cheap little rental house in the north west of the city, and this time I made sure I stayed for good.

Many people might not know this about me, but for over ten years I was a server in restaurants. It is where my love for food and wine was born, and from where my desire to launch Do The Daniel (firstly) as a food blog all those years ago arose. I’ve worked in high end wine bars, I had an amazing career with The Keg and even became a part of their corporate training team, and I can say that to this day I miss the industry.

That being said, something about Toronto has always irked me just a little bit. I remember working in Ottawa and having my “regulars” come in like clockwork. They loved the establishment, they loved the menu, and I hope that they lo service. The food scene in Ottawa of course being much smaller than that in Toronto, there is still a distinct difference in between the food cultures of both cities.

I don’t know many people who are regulars to one establishment because they love it. Torontonian food culture, in my opinion unfortunately, is more so driven by trends and Instagram photo opportunities. I think it’s one of the reasons why it’s so difficult for a restaurant to have longevity, let alone stay open in a such a competitive market.

I on the other hand, opt to support the restaurants that mean something to me and that I love. It’s not saying that one way of dinning in Toronto is better than the other, but rather that my perspective may be different that the status quo. I return to Drake Mini Bar because I remember the feeling I got the first time I saw their colourful murals and sipped a cocktail while catching up with a dear friend of mine to congratulate her on her success.

I sit around the bar at Drake One Fifty because it reminds me of having a celebratory meal with Catherine when we landed our first “big” deal for the blog and we wanted to commemorate our success with an epic meal.

I return to The Drake Hotel regularly because it reminds me of sitting down after a long day with my husband to have a drink in one of the most iconic buildings in Toronto. To laughing until my stomach hurts or having an intense conversations around current political decisions taking place in our city and province that effect us respectively.

There is something to be said about being a regular, and I guess this blog post is a celebration for those of you in Toronto who feel and do the same. Not for the fact that some tired and over-the-top gaudy decor element has popped up to bring you through the doors, or a dessert that I’ve now seen too many times on social media to want to try is out there. But because you love it. And you want to support the establishments, staff and people who help you to continue to love it.

While we’re on the topic of the The Drake Hotel and its properties, I recently found out about their new menu items that have launched alongside the exciting news of Drake Motor Inn is opening May 31 that I wanted to share a few of my favourites with you all to help inspire you to continue being or possibly become a regular with me at some of my favourite spots to eat and drink.

The Drake Hotel

Drake Veggie Burger features a made-from-scratch quinoa and chickpea patty, and can be made vegan without the milk bun

Breakfast Sandwich with green chorizo patty, jalapeño havarti, tomatillo mayo and egg on an English muffin

Fruit Smoothie Bowl with seasonal fruit, flax seeds, toasted almonds and almond milk

Drake Mini Bar

The Spicy Scallop Handroll with salmon roe, yuzu kosho, cucumber and green onion

The Tempura Shrimp Uramaki with Argentinian shrimp, spiced mayo, panko, tobiko, avocado and sesame

The Salmon Poke Bowl with garlic fried rice, salmon roe, avocado, sesame egg, green onion, and pickled carrots

Fried Chicken with dill ranch, brassicas, asparagus, and horseradish mustard dressing

Creole Shrimp and ‘Nduja with sweet pepper relish and crème fraîche.

Drake Commissary

Chili and Lime Rotisserie Chicken, which can be served for one or as a whole chicken family-style with sides of poblano, smoked honey and almond picada, and braised collard greens

Roast Pork Sandwich with tamarind glaze, mustard greens, sesame, buttermilk fried onion, and a green salad

Lunchtime Sourdough Pizzas like the spinach, confit garlic and creamy goat cheese that all come served with Caesar salad for $14

Drake Devonshire

Fried Prinzen Chicken and Waffles topped with sour cherries, mint and cream

Brisket Tostado, corn tortillas, black beans, rice, avocado, pepitas, fried egg, and queso fresco.

Drake One Fifty

Two new flavours on its popular pizza menu with the Bianca, topped with ‘nduja sausage, fior di latte, potatoes, bechamel and onion, and the Eggplant, with sundried tomato pesto, smoked scamorza, piquillo pepper, zucchini, and niçoise olives. 

While I have three delicious options in Toronto to chose from as mentioned above, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I have yet to be to Drake Devonshire. Catherine did take us on an adventure last summer (click here to read all about it) but I know that a personal goal for me this summer is to get out of the city more often. And that destination, alongside Drake Motor Inn opening May 31, is at the top of my to do list.

Drake Motor Inn is opening May 31 and starting Wednesday March 27 travelers can make reservations at drakemotorinn.ca. The two-building pet-friendly guesthouse—which pays homage to the classic roadside motel alongside modern twists and amenities—is ideal for family getaways with dog in tow, girlfriend trips, group retreats, and solo adventurers looking to explore the wonders of Prince Edward County. Drake Motor Inn is just up the street from Drake Devonshire and offers twelve playful guest rooms each equipped with their own balcony or garden, inspired communal rooms for snacking and socializing, as well as a backyard terrace and outdoor fire pit.

If this isn’t #Roadtrip #Goals, I don’t know what is!


To join in on the social media conversation around this and other amazing menu items and openings taking place at one of my favourite establishments in Toronto, make sure to follow @TheDrakeHotel on Twitter & Instagram and ‘Like’ their Facebook Page.

This post is not intended to be seen by persons under the legal alcohol drinking age or in countries with restrictions on advertising on alcoholic beverages. Please remember to enjoy responsibly and never drink and drive. 

For more behind the scenes of this and other amazing brands we are working with around the world, make sure to follow along with the #DoTheDaniel Instagram account. We would love to have you join on our adventures!

Photos: All social media accounts listed above, The Drake Hotel & Daniel Reyes

Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year

Daniel Reyes

Mobile photos were taken with my Samsung Canada Galaxy S10+ on the Rogers network*