Days before Christmas, Jeff Kang of Queen West’s Canis gave the city a present in the form of this intentionally unadorned, monastery-chic wine bar—what better setting for solemn oenophilia? The list is primarily drawn from natural and low-intervention wineries, and everyone on staff is a wine geek: one server went so far as to have “Syrah” tattooed on the back of his hand. Kang’s short, pairing-friendly nightly menu is more relaxed than the ingenious, tweezer-assembled cooking for which he’s known. Each plate is nevertheless a stunner: he brushes a final coat of fermented black bean sauce on braised short ribs; stacks steamed Salt Spring Island mussels, in a sauce of caramelized whey, on a cube of potato pavé; and prepares a small selection of handmade pastas, like a tagliatelle tossed, ramen-style, with chili-flecked sausage, egg yolk and shredded cabbage. Sandwiches of breaded, deep-fried skate wing are greasy heaven. Kang envisioned people coming to Après after work, but it’s also perfect for those nights that aren’t complete without a post-dinner glass or bottle and some snacks. In my experience, you’d do just as well to make it the main event.
Après, 1166 Queen St. W., 647-292-3317, apreswinebar.ca