I don't review bars and restaurants like regular critics. I don't call and make a reservation for such and such a time and this particular table. What I've done for the last decade or so, while not writing or reading or socializing myself, has been working in service industry. I've worked in almost a hundred different establishments, I think. I've done this work on two continents and most all provinces of Canada. And so this was the last shift in another cafe in Toronto, the overnight, 11 - 8 AM. It's a cafe called 7 West. Here I am serving an empty restaurant. It's 2 AM....
Sometimes I take the little packet of sugar and just barely open a corner. I pour out all the sugar. Then I take the lid off a salt shaker and gingerly pour into the empty sugar packet until full. Then I fold over the packet and put it back, as neatly as I can, amongst the others (a little time bomb waiting for someone to put in their coffee). That should be a gauge on the "love-of-people measuring stick" for how long I've been in service and for how much I like working overnight.
Then I have a rush of late night couples come through. Let me tell you how I think about customers, from the waiter's point of view. I believe the best service is invisible. I think I've done my job correctly if I'm barely noticed, so that when the customers leave what was most memorable was their night, their company, and the space (lastly). Anyway, why should we intrude on your evening? Then there's customers who seem to want to interact with the staff (probably worked in the industry, like the Australian couple on table 9).
Then everyone's gone. You look in the mirror and everything goes blurry. The caffeinated buzz and closeness gives way. All the candles are still lit but daylight is creeping into the window, above the glass and concrete housing the people who come to this cafe and put coins in my pocket. And this our space, just a little-old brick house held by people like me (who are themselves held up by coffee and cigarettes). Maybe I should do some cleaning. The boss likes it clean (I've been in hospitals less clean than this cafe).
I suppose any proper review of a restaurant should mention food... so, what I can tell you is 7-West has great food (even the staff eats there). I particularly like the Virgin pasta (I tell customers that there's no meat in it but it's seductive anyway), the primavera, chicken penne, and the nacho platter. Every chef does these dishes a little different, but they all come out in good portions and hot. Do me a favor and don't order the chevre or the Moroccan bean soup. I have a hard time bringing those dishes to people at the tables without apologizing. It's not that they don't taste alright. They just look a bit... well... presentation is everything, right? Also, I should mention that table 10 on the first level is the choice seat in the house. Table 10 has a secret for the discerning eye (the lines I left in the drawer there reads, "If you've got a curious mind, if you've have a curious heart, if you're the kind of person who likes random writing in hidden places, then leave some words in the drawer at table 10").
And now the sun is up and my time here is at an end. The server coming in to let me go is a half-hour early (thanks Alex). That's the nicest thing about this industry. It's real and it's human and all these other servers, just like me, I've worked with over the years are still present in my mind. It's what I most love about this work, and it's just why you should check out 7-West. Delightfully urban. Staff nocturnal. Hearts and umbrellas at dawn if you've worked with us.