Spice Route in Toronto, located at 499 King Street, is a combination restaurant/nightclub that’s chic, unique, and entirely on fleek.
With a mix of Indonesian and Chinese influence, the décor includes a collection of Buddha and Asian-inspired statues amidst a classy backdrop that includes plenty of dark wood and dim lighting. A large and impressive bar sits center of the room, providing an area for pre-dinner drinks or late night clubbing, while the outskirts of the restaurant, including an elevated area on the side, houses a multitude of 4-person tables and oversized, low to the ground booths. Toward the front of the room, several club-like seating areas are set up to accommodate non-dining guests and a gorgeous outdoor patio that perpetuates the décor caters to dinner or drinks during the summer months.
Given the varied space and exceptional ambience, it’s no wonder that Spice Route is often the site of corporate parties and high-end speciality events, such as celeb gatherings during the Toronto International Film Festival.
The restaurant appears to get a mix of love/hate reviews on the food, but we found the dishes to be ample and quite tasty. There were 4 people in our party – we ordered sweet and sour pork, sticky rice authentically served in a bamboo bowl, and several different dishes from the ‘Sharing Plate’ section of the menu, as well as a drink each. We found the bill to be on par with dinner at The Keg steakhouse, which is acceptable when taking into account that this is a fashionable locale. It’s certainly not bar-and-grill cheap, but it’s not outrageous. Plus, the service is first rate and the atmosphere is a delightful change of pace.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention the unisex restrooms. They are undoubtedly one of those things you have to see for yourself. Rather than separate facilities for women and men, Spice Route offers its patrons several bathrooms, to be used by either sex. They’re exceptionally large, exceptionally clean, and exceptionally unique given the brick walls, glass shelving with a copper basin as a sink, and a floor to ceiling window that overlooks a small garden area with an angel-like Chinese statue. The glass is one-way so no one can see inside; nonetheless, it’s slightly unnerving at first. The extreme dim lighting during the night time hours is also somewhat of a surprise. Seemingly, the one and only thing that won’t come as a shock is that everyone in your party will be talking about the restrooms after they return to the table.
All told, Spice Route is a truly distinctive restaurant. It’s upscale but it’s not uptight.