Why Do Restaurant Reviews Dismiss Wine?

Continued from Part 4: Steve Beckta Restaurant Tonight, though, there are no kids in the place; and the adults have moved beyond their starters to the main courses. In the kitchen, the first ripple hits the entrée station. Vardy, now standing between Fraser and cook J.P. Filion, tapes his wristwatch to the beam of his station. “How long you looking at Ross?” Vardy asks. “Five minutes,” Fraser replies. He’s searing foie gras, which will be topped with a caramelized blini made by Filion and then Vardy will finish them both with apple butter. In minutes Fraser and Filion contribute their […]

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Firing on All Burners: Juice Monkeys Thrive in the Heat of Service

Continued from Part 5: Steve Beckta Restaurant Anne DesBrisay was also happy to broadcast her enthusiasm—though she privately admitted later that given all the hype that had attended its opening, she had been nervous reviewing the restaurant. She was relieved though to find that it was indeed “a clear cut above, in all kinds of ways, but mostly in its service department.” “Beckta can only do good for this town in terms of raising the bar on service standards,” says Ottawa Citizen restaurant critic Anne DesBrisay. “The trend toward chef-owned restaurants is growing (yipee), but it means the chef’s in […]

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Sommelier to Restaurant Owner: Steve Beckta Keeps the Fire

Continued from Part 6: Steve Beckta Restaurant When I step back through the wall of heat into the kitchen, Quinn is telling Vardy: “They loved the béarnaise—they ordered the steak just for the sauce. But they thought the steak itself was a little salty.” “Tell ‘em to go to hell,” says Vardy smiling. In fact, Vardy and all the staff take customer feedback seriously. They’ve adapted a number of dishes because of such comments, and made other changes too. For instance, the tasting menu, rather than just listing the food and wine, now explains why certain wines were paired with […]

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Pairing Wine and Seafood, Shellfish and Steak with Sommelier Allison Vidug

Allison Vidug, sommelier at the Shore Club in Toronto, shares her tips on pairing wine with fresh seafood and shellfish, as well as great cuts of juicy steak. Tell us about the wine list at The Shore Club. Since I took over the wine program, my focus has been on creating a classic list with wines that suit the menu.  The Shore Club’s menu is all about simplicity and quality of ingredients used in steak and seafood dishes. The wine list will include classics from the Old World, New World and, great Canadian wines — which I am most excited […]

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The Paperbag Princess: She Who Brings Her Wine to Restaurants

As we walk into La Colombe restaurant, we’re greeted with warm light and laughter. All the tables in this modest 36-seat bistro are taken, except the one we reserved. On every table there are open bottles of wine that the diners pass back and forth, topping up their glasses. Occasionally, someone reaches discreetly under the table and brings up a new bottle. I spent my early adult years in Nova Scotia and Ontario, so I’ve been trained to select wine politely from the restaurant’s list. I’d no more bring my own booze than I would my own cutlery or linen. […]

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Pairing Wine + Art: Sommelier Courtney Henderson

Courtney Henderson, sommelier at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Frank Restaurant in Toronto, shares tips on pairing wine with art, finding the gems on a restaurant wine list and the artist with whom she’d love to share a great bottle. What makes your wine list unique? We have thirty red wines, thirty white and six sparkling, with six by the glass for red and white and three for the sparkling. More than 85 percent of them are Canadian. We feature Vintner Quality Alliance (VQA) wines that includes lots of local gems such as Niagara’s 13th Street Pinot Gris, Nyarai Sauvignon […]

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Bring Your Own Bottle BYOB Wine to Restaurants Tips

Bringing your own bottle of wine to restaurants is now legal in many provinces and states, but what are the rules of engagement? I shared some tips on CBC radio this week on the etiquette of doing so, including the types of wines to bring, corkage fees and tipping. You can listen to that conversation below … Does the thought of bringing your own wine to a restaurant make you feel cheap and arrogant? Get over it by practicing good BYOB etiquette. 1. Even when the practice is legal, check if the restaurant allows or encourages it. When you make […]

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Wine Review of the Week: National Waiter’s Day Wine

Steve Cranny, a graduate of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) program, has selected our Wine Review of the Week to celebrate National Waiter’s Day, May 21. A toast to all those hard-working heroes of the restaurant industry! #NationalWaitersDay Here’s Steve wine review and rating: Until I became involved in the Industry I had no idea how hard service professionals work to make other people happy. So in honour of National Waiter’s Day and all of those great service people I would like to recommend a wine that I have enjoyed across several vintages. The Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino […]

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Toronto Sommelier Masters 4,300 Bottle Wine List

Mark Moffatt, wine director at Bosk restaurant in Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel. What was your most memorable wine experience? While I was working as a sommelier at The Fairmont Palliser Hotel, we created a display of an entire vertical of Château Mouton Rothschild from 1945 to 1994. Learning about each of these bottles, and the stories behind them, motivated me to learn more about wine. What would you be doing if you weren’t a sommelier? I would be an Extreme Sports athlete in winter skiing.  I have always loved skiing, and I haven’t yet met a jump, cliff or ledge that […]

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Taboo Sommelier Talks: Ontario Wines + Restaurant Wine Lists

Markus Carl is the wine director and sommelier at Taboo Resort, Golf and Spa in Gravenhurst, Ontario, about 90 minutes north of Toronto. Carl shares a range of tips, from which wines to take to the cottage to which ones to drink when listening to Johann Sebastian Bach. While you were growing up, was wine a part of your family’s life? There was certainly wine around as my father had an extensive collection of Bordeaux from the late 1970s and early 1980s, including some Sauternes, that rich dessert wine from the region, which at that age struck me as particularly […]

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