Tracking the changes at the Wine Bar and Hank’s
It’s been four months since foodie power couples Ted and Mary Koutsogiannopoulos (Joy Bistro) and Scott Vivian and Rachelle Caldwell (Jamie Kennedy Kitchens) bought the Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar and adjoining Hank’s café. Their rebrand is evident everywhere: Hank’s now has table service and dinner (a barbecue-inspired evening menu debuted this week), but the big change that has locavores squealing like whey-fed pigs is that the Wine Bar now takes reservations. “I got a lot of shit about it,” says Vivian about the old policy, “especially from people like Joanne Kates.”
At Hank’s, the space now opens up almost directly onto the Wine Bar, and new signage and seating improve the flow of the place. On the menu, Vivian’s talent for southern accents (most of which he learned during his years in Atlanta) is emphasized, including baby back ribs, mac and cheese, and grits and cornbread. There is also a new weekend brunch featuring eggs Benedict, fresh preserves and house-brined peameal bacon. The famous fries are still on order, though Vivian says he does them slightly differently, blanching the potatoes in water, not oil, for a lighter shoestring fry. The menu remains all Ontario and all seasonal, so expect changes every few months.
The Wine Bar is seven years old, so a new identity is more difficult to assert. “What am I going to do so that people aren’t constantly comparing me to Jamie Kennedy?” mused Vivian when he first bought the spot. He appears to have found the answer: ethnic roots (his father is Italian, his mother Indian). Small plates get playful, like grilled naan served with black bean purées, and marinated Moroccan carrot salad, with pairings from sommelier Richard Healy. “It’s more elegant food,” says Vivian of the symbiotic concepts. “In Hank’s, it’s down-home comfort food and kick-your-shoes-off laid back.”
6 thoughts on “Tracking the changes at the Wine Bar and Hank’s”
Since the change-over, one of my colleagues (we work just around the corner from Hank’s) has had food poisoning and another has found green larvae in her salad. Quality has definitely gone downhill at Hank’s.
FYI – Since Oct. 15/09 when Wine Bar and Hank’s changed ownership there have not been any complaints of food poisoning since we take great care and pride in our food. Furthermore, we are a LOCAL ONTARIO eatery and DON’T SERVE SALAD since it’s not in season. The posted comment is at least perplexing and clearly LACKS ANY CREDIBILITY. One would think if these comments had any merit (and if we actually served salad),the resto would’ve got a call. No such call has ever come.
since the change i have enjoyed 2 amazing meals at the wine bar. simply prepared food, well executed, and served with a smile. what more can you ask for in this city of crappy food, and surly service?
I would like to support the comment above about hank’s going downhill! i just ordered a tuna melt that turned out to be very disappointing. I paid $9 for a very sad sandwich! The sandwich consisted of one slice of very thin, unimpressive bread, a small layer of canned tuna and some cheese, the “best” part was the pound of arugula that was thrown on top. Good food is all about balance, not hiding a pathetic sandwich under a forest of greens. How can they justify charging $9? This has been one unsatisfying lunch and most likely my last one at hank’s.
The interesting thing concerning people who complain about food….most of them can’t cook at all. You can’t pull your tuna melt out of a box from L__law_, pop it in the oven, and tell your friends you made an amazing lunch. Or, for that matter, buy the bread, open the tuna, and open the mayo. The day and age of critics…when no one can back up their punch. Get some skill, source some ingredients, take some pride, and then give the chefs of this city a call. I’m sure one of them would gladly school you in a cook off
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