Après Wine Bar is actually one of the restaurants I agree with on Toronto Life’s 2019 best new restaurant list. Plus Frilu, Giulietta, Alo Bar, Sara and Kōjin.
Even though it bills itself as an organic and natural wine bar, it is all about the food for me. I know it has a carefully curated wine list, and the servers are incredibly knowledgeable about where the wine comes from and how it is made, I am just not familiar or enamored with organic wines, although our server suggested one that was acceptable for us. But I was surprised and elated about the quality of food this tiny kitchen puts out. Jeff Kang of Canis, originally opened this spot as a place you would go after dinner for a drink and a snack. But I’m here to tell you this spot is good before, during or Après.
Après is located at 1166 Queen Street West, and it is quite far west, even past the Drake hotel. The space is minimalist, with an attractive bar up front, wood banquettes and wooden style picnic tables. The place is cool, casual and relaxed. It seats about 60 people, even though the space looks small.
The menu has a lot of interesting choices. We had some chilled snow crab, which was quite good. The masala fried chicken with a cucumber raita was outstanding! I could have polished off the plate myself. The spices were perfection, and the chicken was cooked perfectly and paired well with the refreshing dip. Another standout was the handmade mushroom pappardelle in a delectable brown butter and hazelnut sauce that was addictive. We also tried the grilled sourdough bread served with eggplant, nduja, and ricotta.
Everything that passed by our table looked amazing. We tried both desserts, a sunflower ice cream sandwich which was not as sweet as you may think, and a lovely apricot kernel crème caramel. The prices are reasonable for the quality of food. They also offer a 5-course tasting menu for $55, which sounds like a great bargain to me. Unexpected and inspiring food.