Since by Friday my sickness was gone — meaning I could once again breathe through my nose and taste things — we finished the week with a bit of a double-hit, deciding to try out a couple of wine bars in a part of town that we just never get to. I mean, literally…we have never walked around this neighbourhood. Shocking.
Midfield Wine Bar is a new spot on Dundas West that we liked immediately. The decor feels a bit rugged and minimalist at first, but it’s not an oversight — it’s by design. Everything here is dead simple. Small tables, simple chairs, cash only, a healthy bar, a brief menu (charcuterie, oysters, terrines, bread) and a well-curated wine list. I’m trying to remember everything I had…I remember the Stratus Charlie Baker Riesling, some Sangiovese or another, and a fantastic Santagostino Nero D’Avola/Syrah. Our charcuterie board was fantastic too…smearing some honeycomb on the spicy sopressata was the smartest thing I did all day. It’s not the place to go if you’re looking for a ginormous meal, but if you love interesting wine (and maybe fancy a snack) then make your way to Midfield. And let them pick the glasses for you; it’s just more fun that way.
Alas, it was time to leave Midfield. We had a dinner reservation down the street at Salt Wine Bar (sense a theme?) at 9:30. In retrospect we should have just stayed at Midfield and ordered a second board. It’s not that Salt was bad…it was just a rather soul-jerking shift to decamp a truly authentic place like Midfield for a minor outpost of Ossington hipster-douchery. It was the usual loud/cramped scenario in there. Our server was nice, but she couldn’t tell me a thing about the wine list; I don’t remember what bottle we ended up with or how it tasted. Food: the lamb tacos and lobster risotto were just okay, but the scallops and pork belly were both pretty good. So considering we got a pretty modest amount of food and wine, the bill felt outsized. It’s not a strict avoid in my books — that is, I wouldn’t warn somebody away from there if they wanted to try it — but I don’t see us making a return trip anytime soon.
Thankfully, after all that wine we had a beer respite (note to self: copyright the term beerespite) on Saturday. We met up with CBGB at Beerbistro for our friend Lisa’s birthday, in an attempt to turn her — an avowed disliker of beer — into a fan of the suds. Thankfully Beerbistro offers flights of three small glasses, and groups their menu by type of beer (and orders it roughly from lightest-to-strongest), so I did the picking and began the indoctrination.
- Flight 1:Blanche de Chambly, Bitburger Pils, De Koninck. the Blanche was a hit. The Pils and De Koninck weren’t quite as well received, but they weren’t rejected either.
- Flight 2:Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss, Innis & Gunn Oak Aged, Muskoka Mad Tom IPA. The Weihenstephaner was also well received, though not quite as well as the Chambly. The Innis & Gunn went over better than I thought too, probably because of the sweetness. The Mad Tom, however, produced a response best summarized as “Ewwwww!!!” and was quickly given away. We had hit on it: the enemy, then, was hops.
- Flight 3:Affligem Blonde, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Paulaner Salvator. The Affligem sits in the same category as my beloved Maudite, which I happened to be drinking just prior to this round. Since the birthday girl had tried a sip and not liked it, I opted for the other ‘spicy’ beer; luckily the Affligem fared better than La Maudite would have. The Young’s was a gamble, since serving stout to a professed non-beer-drinker seems antithetical, but the chocolate might have just salvaged it. I believe the Salvator was the least popular of this flight, but still wasn’t met with the venom shown to the Mad Tom.
So, if nothing else we showed our friend last night that she doesn’t have to resort to drinking the bad house wine at a pub if they have a weissbeer on tap. Mission tastily accomplished!