The Annex is located in vibrant Kensington, steps away from the neighbourhood’s walkable hub of retail shops, restaurants, professional services and speciality stores. The Annex is proud to be part of this community, and our blog will be running regular features to highlight local businesses.
Vendome Café, located in the historic Vendome Block in Sunnyside, has been a neighbourhood staple for nearly a decade. The café, operated by the venerable Teatro Group, provides a cozy atmosphere reminiscent of a European café and believes in fostering community connections through partnerships with local vendors and artisans.
Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Vendome offers menus complete with locally inspired dishes, as well as array of speciality coffees and wine to savour. Vendome is also making significant strides towards being eco-friendly. On Earth Day 2018, Vendome stopped using plastic straws (metal and paper straws are available for a small fee), and the café’s composting and recycling programs ensure less waste and sustainable practices for years to come.
We spoke to Natalia Barberis, Front of House Manager at Vendome, to find out more about the café, her favourite spots to visit in Kensington and how the neighbourhood has evolved.
How would you describe Vendome to someone who’s unfamiliar with it?
It’s very quaint, and it has a very neighbourhood vibe. The atmosphere is calm, but at the same time it’s busy enough that people come here to work—a lot of freelance writers and artists come here. The team that we’ve built here is just so close-knit, and along with our customers it’s just a different feeling. Staff and customers aren’t as separate as some restaurants tend to be.
Which menu item is your favourite?
My favourite would have to be our tuna melt.
Does Vendome have any special features or programming this summer?
We’re changing our menu, and we’re trying to have more evening events for families to come in—special dinners for people who want to stay within their neighbourhood, while being able to bring their children with them to a place that’s not too fancy but still fancy enough. Is there a seasonal focus to the new menu? We tend to change our menus every October and May. This year we’re a little behind, but we tried to change it so we have more seasonal vegetables and fruit in our dishes. For example, last summer we had a berry-mix waffle, and then we changed it to a strawberry compote for winter. We try to change everything around to incorporate seasonal produce.
How have you seen Kensington/Sunnyside evolve in recent years?
I actually used to live around the area—really close to Vendome—about seven years ago, and I didn’t like it. It didn’t feel very safe to me, personally, but the neighbourhood has changed for the better since then. There’s more involvement with art, with music, and I feel like working at Vendome has also contributed towards building that feeling of community here. With containR across the street, it just feels like now there’s a place for everyone to meet up and for events to happen. Vendome has been adapting along with that to welcome people and be a space for community involvement.
What are some of the ways Vendome has adapted?
We started having art exhibitions with local artists, as well as live music shows every Thursday evening. The music starts at 7 p.m., and there’s no cover charge. What do you think makes Kensington stand out from other neighbourhoods in the city? I think it’s the sense of community. It’s become very trendy in the past couple of years, but there’s still a strong sense of community amongst residents and businesses, which stands out more than any other neighbourhood.
What are your favourite places to visit in the neighbourhood?
I’d say Mañana, Pages is always fun—they have a great selection of books—and Sunnyside Natural Market are a few of my favourites.
Keep an eye on the blog for more Kensington features!
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