My boss gave me tickets to go see Under Milkwood at the Soul Pepper Theatre in Toronto’s Distillery District. It seemed like a perfect excuse to visit Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar. I didn’t think it would be a problem to secure two seats at the bar at 5:45pm, but a 45 minute queue had already started. But the queue wasn’t visible because the very pleasant host took down everybody’s cell phone numbers so they could walk around. This fooled a lot of people into thinking there was no wait. I sat outside on the park bench waiting for the beast and watching couples walk by, pause out front—a bit shocked to see there was no line—decide to walk in, then walk right back out. The man always seemed to be comforting the woman with “there’re more restaurants on Front Street sweetie.” Women love this Jamie Kennedy.
As soon as the Beast arrived, a spot for two opened up at the bar. Only waited 25 minutes. I’ve been eager to try Marc Kreydenweiss’s Riesling, so when I saw that super sommelier Jamie Drummond had a 2000 Kreydenweiss Pinot Gris on by the glass, I ordered it without pause. The Beast, weary after a long day of being a beast, ordered a neat Oban.
The Beast: how does your wine taste?
The Foodie: (me swirling it around in the glass), It smells divine! It’s just so fragrant—such bright, round stone fruit, and there’s floral. There’s definitely floral—honeysuckle.
The Beast: can we order the—
The Foodie (cutting him off): so strange! On the palate, the wine just doesn’t follow through! That nose is so misleading!
The Beast: can we order the Crisp Pig’s Trotter?
The Foodie: How about the Milk-Braised Lamb?
The Beast: How about you just order.
Since he insisted, I did. While we waited, I ordered a glass of Teroldego Rotaliano DOC, from Casata Monforte in Trentino.
The Foodie: (While the Teroldego is being poured), I am so excited to try this! We don’t even have it at work! We just got a Lagrein in, which is from the same region, and supposedly similar in style, but man oh man!
The Beast: You’re just showing off.
The Foodie: Typical nose here, well, typical from what I’ve read at least. Red fruit, herbal notes, not a lot of oak…
The Beast: Show-off.
The Foodie: This is what it is.
The Beast: What does that mean?
The Foodie: It’s not trying to show off. It’s not putting on airs. It’s a simple, high acid, low tannin, fresh red meant to be drunk now.
The Beast: Does that mean you like it?
The Foodie: I think so. But I’m not crazy about it.
Yukon Gold fries as Chorizo Poutine was curious:
The Beast: Arrggh, mmmnn (usual beastial rumblings of satisfaction)
The Foodie: The fries are perfect! But what is that in the poutine? It tastes like…like instant taco mix.
The Beast: Or Doritos.
Grilled Halloumi with Purple Potatoes and Arugola looked real pretty:
The Foodie: I like how Halloumi chesse squeaks.
The Beast: Purple potatoes are overrated.
The Foodie: I would kill for a lemon wedge right now just to squeeze all over this.
The Beast: You’re just saying that because the judges on Top Chef always say dishes “need more acid.”
Grilled Marinated Short Ribs with Cabbage Slaw was not what we expected:
The Foodie: Is this for real? These look like when human parts are bisected and shaved paper-thin for anatomy lessons. Where’s the meat?
The Beast: You have to suck on them.
Milk Braised Lamb with Peas and New Potatoes was like Sunday dinner:
The Foodie: What are you looking for?
The Beast: Salt.
The Foodie: You never add salt to anything.
The Beast: That’s because you add too much salt to everything you cook. These peas taste like they’re not cooked.
The Foodie: I think that’s how they’re supposed to taste.
We were in and out within an hour—maybe less. Although the place was very busy, we never felt rushed. Food came out fast and looked lovely. Service was brisk, but perfectly efficient. And our appetites were satisfied. Not every fork-full of food hit the mark, but what Jamie Kennedy is doing here is just so lovely, and affordable to boot.