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Reds Bistro & Wine Bar

Staff Picks: 10 Wine Bars to Wet Your Whistle

Whether you’re a true connoisseur or simply enjoy the occasional tipple, these wine bars are sure to satisfy any palate.

Ciao Wine Bar's old fashioned-chic wine cellar

Carens Wine and Cheese Bar
This Yorkville boîte is a summertime hot spot due to its intimate back patio, but the bistro is popular regardless of the weather. The dining menu features sophisticated comfort fare, while wines and cheeses are perfectly paired. 158 Cumberland St. 416-962-5158

Ciao Wine Bar
Local bigwigs are drawn to Ciao’s three-level lot on Yorkville Avenue. Oenophiles seek shelter in the rustic-chic cellar, complete with exposed brick, vaulted ceiling and vintage wine racks. The list features Italian reds and whites prominently, but there are also selections form Canada, the United States, Spain and elsewhere. 133 Yorkville Ave., 416-925-2143.

Crush Wine Bar
A staple of the trendy King West neighbourhood, Crush combines casual fine dining with a diverse selection of vintages. Can’t choose from sommelier Mark Moffatt’s huge international wine list? Try one of the curated—and very affordable—flights of three two-ounce glasses. 455 King St. W., 416-977-1234.

Enoteca Sociale
This family-friendly restaurant on the up-and-coming Dundas West strip houses a cheese cave and a wine cellar, both of which highlight varieties from Italy and Canada. House-made pastas and other seasonally inspired dishes are brought to life with suggested wine pairings. 1288 Dundas St. W., 416-534-1200.

Local Kitchen & Wine Bar
In Parkdale, this neighbourhood haunt draws foodies from across the city with its Italian-style piattini (small plates) and endearing wine list. Along with using locally grown foods, the restaurant also features a range of Ontario wines. 1710 Queen St. W., 416-534-6700.

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Tops in Taste: Toronto’s 2011 Where to Dine Awards

From quick and casual eateries to fine dining experiences inspired by global cuisines, Toronto has many hundreds of excellent restaurants. Only a handful, however,
can be true consensus favourites, and the winners of our annual Where to Dine
readers’ choice awards.

Canoe (photo by Kristina Doyle)

AMBIENCE
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar
Six locations of the popular steakhouse ensure diners can get a grilled-to-perfection sirloin, T-bone or filet mignon practically anywhere in Toronto. The brand’s most notable venue is in a circa-1868 mansion on Jarvis Street—the immaculately adorned interior is a conversation starter. Two other restaurants in the heart of downtown offer a more modern vibe for business lunches and pre-show dinners.
Honorable Mention: Auberge du Pommier

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH
Cora Breakfast & Lunch
Down-home country-kitchen dishes are the draw at this group of restaurants, originally from Quebec. Fresh fruit and eggs in various preparations comprise the majority of the menu, from the “10 Star” omelette—filled with ham, sausage, spinach, tomatoes and much more—to the “1990s Harvest” of cinnamon French toast with an egg, bacon and a mountain of seasonal fruit.
Honorable Mention: Fran’s (more…)

Hot Shopping: Local Jewellery Gem

Kate Singer is an accidental artist. The history student-turned-jeweller began selling stained glass accessories at folk festivals after a bout of academic burnout. Her Marmalade Designs creations have since evolved into silkscreened fabrics coated in resin and mounted in sterling silver. Today, the talented Toronto metalsmith has a cult following across the country with more than 20 stores stocking her trademark rings, necklaces, pendants and earrings. Pick them up here at Distill Gallery (55 Mill St., 416-304-0033), Made You Look, The Guild Shop and Red Pegasus, or see her entire collection online, here.

Weekend Roundup, May 6th to May 8th

Friday: Get acquainted with The Railway Children (photo by Simon Annand)

Friday, May 6
All aboard! Start off the weekend by catching newly opened play The Railway Children. This stage story follows of three children reduced to poverty who try to make the most of their new circumstances. Taking place at the Roundhouse Theatre—built near a historic train depot near Union Station—the set features an 85-ton vintage steam locomotive from England.

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, head to the Tequila and More: Spirits and Cocktails Show, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, to learn what tequila is all about. Starting at 4 p.m. and continuing through the evening, the event features live Latin jazz, tequila and mescal tastings, cocktail mixology competitions and more

Taking cues from two works based on the myth of Orpheus, Toronto Masque Theatre presents the Masques of Orpheus tonight at Enwave Theatre. In keeping with the troupe’s “arts in fusion” motto, the classic French La Descente d’Orphee aux Enfers by Charpentier will be performed alongside Orpheus and Eurydice by Canadians James Rolfe and Andre Alexis.

Saturday: See science in action

Saturday, May 7
There’s a whole lot of learning goin’ on today, as the nationwide Science Rendezvous takes place, and includes activities and events across the Greater Toronto Area. Ryerson University offers exciting demonstrations in chemistry; the University of Toronto has hands-on activities with top researchers; and the Ontario Science Centre features a special presentation: 50 years of Human Spaceflight—Past, Present and Future.

Raise your glass and kick off the week-long Salut Toronto Wine & Food Festival. Fun and educational, the festival features unique events (through to May 14th) with leading chefs, winemakers and food producers on hand. Today, the Global Pinot—Chasing the Heartbreak Grape event offers an afternoon wine tasting with certified wine experts from Reds Bistro & Wine Bar.

It’s now or never! Bullet for Adolf, written and directed by Woody Harrelson, takes the stage one last time at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Theatre.

Sunday: Take Mother's Day tea at Spadina Museum

Sunday, May 8
Celebrate this Mother’s Day with a handful of fun events taking place throughout the city. Among them, Black Creek Pioneer Village offers two options for Mother’s Day within its family-friendly historical heritage village: a buffet brunch or afternoon tea. Similarly, visitors to the recently restored Spadina Museum: Historic House & Gardens are invited to partake in an afternoon cream tea plus tour. At the Toronto Zoo, take mom to meet other mothers like Ngzoi the gorilla, Polly the baboon and Mya the cheetah.

Perfect for families, the classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is performed as an interactive musical at Solar Stage Children’s Theatre—today, and on weekends during May.

At various venues through to May 15th, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival screens 118 films from 21 countries that reflect aspects of Jewish identity and diversity. Three of this year’s top films highlight the “Three Lennys”: Lenny Bruce, Leonard Bernstein,and Leonard Cohen.

2010 Dining Guide: In Vino Veritas

The Wine Bar

Sometimes you just want to savour a full-bodied Bordeaux without a thick steak accompaniment. For those occasions, this city offers a bevy of wine bars—relaxed venues that are perfect for sipping and socializing. (And if hunger strikes, the food at these establishments isn’t too shabby either.)

Size-wise, Reds is likely Toronto’s largest wine bar. Combined with a fine-dining bistro, the two-storey Financial District space offers a lengthy list of more than 80 wines by the glass. Yorkville’s Ciao is of a similar scale, and focuses on traditional Italian food, drink and hospitality, while the industrial-
chic environs at Crush entice with sustainable cuisine plus themed wine flights for indecisive imbibers.

Then again, intimacy is always appreciated when it comes to this style of establishment, ensuring that inviting boîtes like Eight, Carens, and the simply titled Wine Bar—where the chefs chat with you from the open kitchen—are often busy. And for oenophiles who are particular about their food, Niagara Street Café promises French fare plus wine from owner-sommelier Anton Potvin’s well-curated cellar.

Blue-Ribbon Bites: Our 2010 Where to Dine Readers’ Choice Awards

Once again we asked you, Where readers, to tell us about your most memorable meals for our annual Where to Dine Awards. This year, thousands dined, dashed to their computers and dished about these exemplary restaurants in 20 categories.

AMBIENCE — La Maquette
Go for: This French institution’s refined atmosphere: grand fireplaces, a lovely solarium and a patio adjacent to the Toronto Sculpture Garden.
Stay for: The chef’s specialty grilled jumbo quail with blackberry sauce, wild cherries and apricot chutney.
Runners up: The Sultan’s Tent, Southern Accent.

BUSINESS LUNCH — Canoe
Go for: Everything on executive chef Anthony Walsh’s acclaimed menu, which highlights the best of Canada’s culinary bounty.
Stay for: The 54th-floor view that colleagues and clients are unlikely to forget.
Runners up: Jump, Bymark.

BAR/LOUNGE — Dakota Tavern
Go for: The underground watering hole’s eclectic urban-cowboy ambience, fun-loving crowd and nightly rip-snortin’ performances by local and touring bands.
Stay for: An excellent all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch—complete with live bluegrass music.
Runners up: Panorama, The Abbot Pub & Fare.

The Drake Hotel

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH — The Drake Hotel
G0 for: An enormous helping of fluffy buttermilk pancakes with stewed fruit and crème fraiche.
Stay for: The diverse juice and drinks list, with everything from mango iced tea to a piquant tequila and cilantro Caesar.
Runners up: Le Sélect Bistro, Cora Breakfast & Lunch.

CAFÉ — Dark Horse Espresso Bar
G0 for: A steaming mug of French-pressed coffee or a shot of espresso expertly prepared by gregarious baristas at two locations.
Stay for: The relaxed and inclusive vibe—though the communal tables can get crowded with laptop-toting javaheads.
Runners up: B Espresso Bar, Art Square Café.

CHINESE — Lai Wah Heen
Go for: An unparalleled dim sum experience. The variety of nibbles and their artful presentation are worth the price.
Stay for: The array of Cantonese entrees ranging from the expected—Peking duck—to the exotic, like sea cucumber and sliced abalone.
Runners up: Asian Legend, Pearl Harbourfront.

FAMILY DINNER — The Pickle Barrel
Go for: All-day breakfast favourites like Belgian waffles and French toast that are sure to please even the pickiest of young palates.
Stay for: Adult-oriented entrees including stir-fries, sandwiches, seafood and steaks—approximately 300 menu items in all.
Runners up: The Old Spaghetti Factory, Jack Astor’s.

Scaramouche

FINE DINING — Scaramouche
Go for: Such contemporary French-influenced fare as lobster and lamb enhanced by the freshest of seasonal accompaniments.
Stay for: The expansive hilltop view of downtown, and a fabulous slice of coconut cream pie to end the evening.
Runners up: Splendido, Harbour Sixty.

FRENCH — Auberge du Pommier
Go for: The classic combination of milk-poached veal tenderloin and crispy fried sweetbreads. C’est magnifique!
Stay for: A charcuterie platter that adds Canadian touches like spruce tips and apple mustard, plus a to-die-for crème brûlée.
Runners up: Batifole, Loire.

GREEK — Pan on the Danforth
Go for: Large, affordable servings of Hellenic faves like stifatho, a dish of spiced veal cubes traditionally offered at weddings.
Stay for: Seafood staples including a fillet of red snapper in white wine sauce.
Runners up: Christina’s on the Danforth, Penelope.

HOTEL DINING — Epic at the Fairmont Royal York
Go for: Meaty, Canadian-sourced mains—Ontario pork, Alberta lamb and more—seasoned with herbs grown in the hotel’s own rooftop garden.
Stay for: Ocean Wise–certified sustainable fish from both the east and west coasts.
Runners up: Victor at the Hôtel le Germain, Victoria’s Restaurant at Le Méridien King Edward Hotel.

Epic at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel

INDIAN — Little India
Go for: A laid-back lunch with downtown friends. The daily buffet is fresh and very reasonably priced.
Stay for: The rich and savoury butter chicken, plus a wide variety of vegetarian entrees.
Runners up: 259 Host, Babur.

ITALIAN — Zucca Trattoria
Go for: The daily selection of market-fresh whole grilled fish, presented by knowledgeable servers and paired with Italian vino.
Stay for: House-made pastas—try the strozapretti or casunsei ampezzani—that are counted among the city’s best.
Runners up: Mistura, Bellini’s.

JAPANESE — Funé
Go for: Varied pickings at the moat-encircled sushi bar. Grab what you like from the bamboo boats for a quick meal before catching a show in the Theatre District.
Stay for: Charbroiled Atlantic salmon with teriyaki sauce.
Runners up: Ki Modern Japanese & Bar, Nami.

ROMANTIC — 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower
Go for: The unforgettable revolving vistas afforded at more than 351 metres above Toronto. The city’s expanse twinkles wonderfully when it’s lit up at night.
Stay for: A rack of slow-roasted Canadian AAA prime beef ribs—big enough to share with your date—plus vintages from the world’s highest wine cellar.
Runners up: North 44, Trattoria Sotto Sotto.

Fisherman's Wharf

SEAFOOD — Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco
Go for: The mammoth seafood platter for two, which could include everything from lobster and Alaskan king crab legs to oysters, scallops and shrimp.
Stay for: Cherry wood–planked Tasmanian sea trout and grilled, miso-glazed
black cod are reliable options.
Runners up: Pier 4 Storehouse, Rodney’s Oyster House.

SERVICE — Bâton Rouge Restaurant
Go for: Grilled-to-order steaks and the restaurant’s signature pork back ribs, of course.
Stay for: The Toronto Eaton Centre location’s attentive staff, who ensure your business lunch or pre-theatre meal goes off without a hitch.
Runners up: George, Pangaea.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN — Golden Thai
Go for: Green curry chicken is an ever-popular choice, as is the Thai steak with mushrooms, peppers and lemon-coriander sauce.
Stay for: Pad Thai. This long-standing resto was one of the first to jump-start the city’s Thai food love affair and its staple dish still satisfies.
Runners up: Bangkok Garden, Mengrai Gourmet Thai.

STEAKHOUSE — The Keg
Go for: Dependable cuts of beef—like juicy New York striploin—available at seven Toronto locations, one of which is an impossibly elegant Victorian mansion.
Stay for: Surf-and-turf combo platters including prime rib and lobster tail, and teriyaki sirloin with tiger shrimp.
Runners up: Barberian’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

WINE LIST — Reds Bistro & Wine Bar
Go for: A Proustian list of bottled and by-the-glass vintages sourced by sommelier Carol Racicot and matched with bistro-style cuisine.
Stay for: Your choice of more than 30 international cheeses, plus a varied charcuterie.
Runners up: Opus, Via Allegro.

Weekend Roundup, May 29 to 31

The weekend arrives once again. Enjoy it!

Friday: Embrujo Flamenco's paella festival

Friday: Embrujo Flamenco's paella festival

Friday, May 29
Explore how the shape of a garment communicates cultural beliefs and outlooks in The Cutting Edge, a feature exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada.

Savour the exotic flavours of Embrujo Flamenco’s paella festival, featuring various takes on the filling, authentically Spanish dish. A gazpacho starter, one of four daily paellas like the arroz negro—black rice and seafood cooked in squid ink—and dessert are just $49.

Sing along to the roots-rock hits of eclectic British band Gomez as they storm the Pheonix Concert Theatre stage.

Saturday: Sommelier Taylor Thompson offers wine expertise at Reds (photo by Daniel Shipp).

Saturday: Sommelier Taylor Thompson offers wine expertise at Reds (photo by Daniel Shipp).

Saturday, May 30
Spend the day discovering the art of food-and-wine pairing by participating in historic Campbell House Museum’s Global Wine Tour: Fundamentals of Food and Wine course.

Combine food and fashion while celebrating South-Asian music and culture at DesiFest.

Marvel at the poise of performers from the Canadian Children’s Opera Company as they stage Hansel and Gretel Go Into the Woods: A Fairy Tale.

Choose your favourite tipple from more than 90 wines available by the glass at Reds Bistro & Wine Bar—or, seek the advice of Taylor Thompson, the restaurant’s expert sommelier.

Tuck into brunch at the Drake Hotel's eclectic Corner Café

Sunday: Tuck into brunch at the Drake Hotel's eclectic Corner Café

Sunday, May 31
Relax at The Rex with enough jazz, blues and beer to keep you occupied between lunch and dinner.

Take in the Drake Hotel’s trendy ambience as you chomp down on a hearty breakfast burrito from its lauded brunch menu.

Catch the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox—or perhaps even a foul ball—as these Major League Baseball rivals do battle at Rogers Centre.