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The Redone Reds Wine Tavern

Fine dining in Toronto is going in one direction: toward the more casual. With both fundamental and cosmetic changes–like changing their name–Red Bistro has become Reds Wine Tavern and joined that parade.

The biggest change is that Ryan Gallagher (of Top Chef Canada season 2 fame) was brought on as executive chef to design and execute a menu that focuses on communal plates that blur the lines between appetisers and mains. Chef Gallagher comes to Reds from the much smaller Ruby Watchco and when I chatted with him he joked that he’s used to being in a kitchen the size of the communal table at Reds. (more…)

Hot July Day in an Orchard

A couple weeks ago the lure of futuristic sex robots on the promotional invitation pulled me to Parkdale’s Parts & Labour for the Canadian launch of Svedka vodka. This most filtered and pure spirit is not my favourite spirit but I always try to keep an open mind where free alcohol is involved.

After we exhausted the list of Svedka-designed cocktails the bearded bartender at PNL was good enough to mix a vodka version of the modern classic Bramble for me and the two ladies beside me–who were much better at twisting his arm.  Ice, vodka (the original has gin), lemon juice, simple syrup, and sparkling water are stirred together before a blackberry liqueur is carefully poured over the top and berries are added as garnish. (more…)

Black Hoof Revisited

Last weekend’s Globe and Mail has Joanne Kates’s take on the Black Hoof.  Like Ms. Kates, Kat and I enjoyed ourselves so much there that we took friends with us for a return visit last month and I’ve produced an update to my earlier review.

The Basil Fawlty

The Basil Fawlty

Chef Grant van Gameren gets a lot of (deserved) attention for his cooking but his partner, Jen Agg and her cocktails deserve as much praise.  I admit having a prejudice against cocktails because of the super-sweet, electric blue, hyphenated “tinis” that monopolise most cards. I’m pleased to see that the closest the Hoof comes to this is having memorable nicknames for the liquid creations but in a subtle (as in “Basil Fawlty”) instead of overtly sexual (as in “Red-headed Slut”) way.  I didn’t get to try them all but the table’s consensus was that the three we tried all tasted great.  Best of all these cocktails are actually served in traditional highball glasses instead of the annoyingly ubiquitous cone-shaped cocktail glasses. (more…)