One thing you don’t see a lot of in Toronto is wine bars. This is something quite common in Europe, and I find it a most delightful experience. A new all day wine bar recently opened at 1161 Dundas Street West, in the Trinity-Bellwoods area, called Paris Paris. This is a curious name because they serve dishes from France, China, Japan, Italy, Spain and Portugal. I guess they feel it is inspired by the French. They do this 7 days a week from noon to as late as 2am. It is a fun place, with a young crowd in a casual setting. Please don’t send me hate mail when I say I prefer the food here to the wine offerings. This is totally personal for me. You might love the wine offerings. There are many choices by the glass (which I found not to my taste) and more interesting choices by the bottle. Many are small-batch producers, largely natural, and biodynamic, and the list keeps growing and changing. They also offer some beer and cocktails, but the focus is more on the wine. Our server Michelle was very serious about describing the wines. Actually, she was serious about everything. It was difficult to get her to crack a smile.
The restaurant was previously an art gallery called the Cooper Cole Gallery. It is a casual, relaxed space, with exposed brick walls, wooden shelves, with greenery and knickknacks, wooden floors and chairs. There is a skylight in the middle of the room. A few tables in the front, communal high tops and more seats around the bar. The room in the back has an open kitchen and can seat an additional 30 for private functions.
The menu consists of small plates and tapas, all the better to share with, if that is your thing. Some of the food is quite good. For instance, I highly recommend getting the bread and whipped butter. Yes, I know it is $5 for bread, but it is worth it. It is 100% organic grains, with seeds, and it is milled in Ontario. The whipped butter is salted and this dish is a must, gluten-free be damned, I say indulge for once in your life! My favourite dish was actually a meatless option – a whole roasted oyster mushroom, swimming in a luscious chicken jus. Who needs steak when you can get a main this tasty?
They offer cheeses, charcuterie, oysters and other small plates. We enjoyed the fried crab claws with a shrimp and scallop mousse. The chicken liver mousse, was a rich and creamy pâté, on grilled bread, topped with sliced raw mushrooms and honey, another dreamy dish. The eggplant spread with black and white sesame in a dill sauce seemed to have too many competing flavors to taste like anything. However, it was accompanied by a delicious puffed flatbread, reminiscent of something I ate in Turkey. There are a few cold choices, salads, prosciutto and the like. The charbroiled squid came atop of a pepper sauce, with black olives and macadamia nuts. The lamb ribs, were a little gamey and fatty. They came with a spicy sauce, snap peas and mint. That would be one dish I wouldn’t reorder. There are 5 mains. Besides the mushroom, they offer hanger steak, roast chicken, and shrimps and scallops. They substituted the duck on the night we were there for pork chops. There were two desserts on offer, but I wasn’t tempted for a change.
The place got slammed after 7:30, and everyone was in a convivial mood. Our neighbours even offered us a glass of their orange Ontario wine.
All in all, it was an inviting vibe, with an original, innovative menu. It is a welcome refuge, to get together with friends or loved ones, over a glass or two of wine, and a few bites.