I’m often asked by readers to provide a list of mature nightspots with a relaxing atmosphere for conversation with friends over a glass or two of wine.
In response, the Pulse presents a selection of Toronto’s top wine bars:
Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar
9 Church St.
416-362-1957 (reservation line)
Ambience: Local celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy offers up an intriguing menu and a fantastic selection of wines in an open-kitchen environment that’s equal parts fine-dining establishment and late-night lounge.
Clientele: Mainly 30- and 40-something professionals who have long-since tired of meet-market venues.
Best reason to pay a visit: Seating which allows customers to observe Kennedy’s chefs and bartenders at work, while also indulging in his delicious creations.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
455 King St. W.
Ambience: Think of a Parisian bistro with a bit of old Toronto added into the mix and you have a snapshot of Crush’s décor. The popular King West resto-bar is a favourite of discerning oenophiles and features an interesting — and regularly-rotated — wine list.
Clientele: Crush’s crowd is mainly composed of professionals indulging in that very thoroughly-prepared wine list and enjoying their French-inspired menu options.
Best reason to pay a visit: Very attentive and knowledgeable staff.
Hours: Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
8 Colborne St.
Ambience: One of the new kids on the block on the Toronto wine bar scene, Eight, located in the lobby of the posh Cosmopolitan Hotel, has been designed by wine lovers for wine lovers. Zoltan Szabo’s wine list is full of intriguing surprises, while chef Derek Kennedy’s progressive menu offers a rich selection of plates ideal for pairing with your favourite vintage — or maybe it should go the other way around — let the debate begin.
Clientele: Like all of the venues mentioned in this list, Eight also caters to an older clientele both of local regulars and guests of the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Best reason to pay a visit: An ever-changing wine list so diverse you won’t know where to start. Ask the well-trained staff and they’ll help guide your choices.
Hours: 4:30 p.m. to close (bar)