I was flipping through a well torn copy of the Toronto Star in a coffee shop yesterday afternoon when I noticed a picture featuring a fridge full of preserves. For those who know me well, that`s kind of like finding a real oasis in the middle of a dessert after weeks of dehydration. I simply can`t resist. The article featured a new wine bar with a twist – almost all of the food are preserves made locally – and it`s just down the street!
It opened a week ago and is petite and delightful. It`s a nice compliment to the Leslieville scene (which continues to explode – Sushi District opens today, just a few doors down from Swirl).
Swirl is a converted one-bedroom apartment in Leslieville (Queen East, near Carlaw). It really does feel like you are walking into a private apartment. The entrance transitions immediately to a staircase which takes you to the second floor bar. It`s an odd comparison but the staircase reminded me of the entrance to Alinea – there is a clear transition that occurs after you leave the street and before you enter the restaurant. It`s a neat feeling.
I must admit I get a little worried when I hear the term `wine bar`- a small bit of self doubt that I will know enough to even order off a wine list (short of asking for `combo number seven`) creeps over me. There is nothing to be worried about in this cozy room – the wine and service is accessible and tasty. Converted sewing tables fill the main room which is super laid back and pleasantly casual. A small back room is available for communal seating or can be reserved for groups of 10. It`s shelves contain many samples of the offerings to be had – alternate cubes of wine and preserves fill the room with peaks of what can be had to sip or feast.
Janean (one of the owners) was a fine and friendly host. She explained the concept, walked us through our options (including a few that weren`t on the menu). Preserves include olives, pickled mushrooms, marinated goats cheese and other preserves to match cheese trays and charcuterie. We sampled the creme caramel and it melted a small piece of our hearts.
Stop bye, check it out and pop a bottle and a few seals!