I wanted to end the season in a big way, but 75 people on a walking tour – in November – on a Friday night? The odds seemed stacked against a “smooth sail”, but I decided to give it a go. After all, the elevated ticket price was for a good cause (Jackson School for the Arts) and I could use the “mystery ending” location I’ve been itching to use all summer. So here’s how it went down November 16th on a chilly but clear Friday night in the heart of the Arts District:
All 75 met at the elegant Canton Club atop the Chase Tower overlooking the city, and there we divided into more manageable groups of 25. After a welcome / intro, and scrumptious empanadas by Master Chef Kent Welsh, we headed down the elevator and spilled onto the streets of Canton like a stream of ants. Guides Claudette, Jill and I eagerly lead the groups to our respective first stops. Mine happened to be Picciano’s Martini Bar.
There, on a table in the rear of the long, narrow lounge, a beautiful tray of martinis awaited. Guests sauntered up as Coreen greeted them and described the drinks they were being served. Then they grabbed a glass and casually sipped and chatted.
Outside the air was crisp, and we enjoyed the walk up Market Avenue to Basil Asian Bistro. This new restaurant is very popular and I knew it would be busy on a Friday night. I could see through the window that our first group was still seated, and we were a bit early, so I took my group into B-Side Wine House (next door to Basil). This was a great idea, as warm notes from Denny Ott’s saxophone filled the bright and cheery room, and Bernadette immediately began pouring wine samples for delighted guests.
Soon we walked next door where Tony Ly was ready for us at Basil, and guests enjoyed large plates of Thai Spaghetti and crab rangoons. The group was lively, chatty, and seemed to enjoy themselves. I breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed to be going well.
We strolled down Court Street, a long brick alley lined with black lamp posts entwined with white lights for the holidays. A lovely sight. Large, whimsical animal sculptures and colorful murals on buildings reminded us that Canton is undergoing a revitalization through the arts. Tozzi’s Downtown, another new restaurant, was next.
We slipped into Tozzi’s off the alley and trotted down the steps to the basement bar that is a hidden gem. It stretches out much farther than you would think, and ends at a small stage where Dave Marchione strummed guitar. Owner Dina Tozzi greeted us and we sampled a new steak dish by Chef Mark Green – with cashew honey glaze and just the right amount of chocolate. Delicious.
We ended the downtown portion of the night at The Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography, better suited for New York or Chicago, but lucky for us and thanks to Tim Belden, is right here in Canton. All 75 (nope, didn’t lose a single one!) reconvened here for the unveiling of the SECRET ENDING MYSTERY location: The McKinley Monument! I anticipated this moment for months: driving up the winding road of the Monument to find it lit just for us! The view from the Monument, overlooking the twinkling lights of the city we just came from was amazing.
Even more incredible was the “special guest” waiting inside. Young and talented Brittany Cary, a classical jazz and opera singer, sang “Nearer My God to Thee” and “Bell Song” – haunting and beautiful pieces that rang out in the softly lit rotunda. We ended the night in the basement of the Monument with delicious Nutella and Sweet Potato cupcakes by Kristina’s Kreations – and more wine!
$2,500.00 went to the Jackson School for the Arts – And I ended my first Canton Food Tours season in a BIG BIG way! Here’s to 2013!