What’s on the menu at Paradise Grapevine, Geary Avenue’s new winery and rotisserie
Including whole roast chickens with a Swiss Chalet–inspired sauce
Name: Paradise Grapevine Winery
Contact info: 218 Geary Ave., shop.paradisegrapevine.com, @paradisegrapevine
Previously: Meta Dos Leitões
Owners: Christian Davis (Wvrst, Bar Volo), David Everitt (Burdock, Bar Volo)
Chef: Kaitlyn Lasagna (Woodlot, Robinson Bread)
Paradise Grapevine has already become one of the city’s favourite wine bars, with excellent vibes, an extensive wine program and an indoor-outdoor space that makes it a top choice for cutting off work early or closing out the evening with a nightcap (or two, or three—you know how it goes).
Last summer, the team packed up their Pinot Noirs and piquettes and opened a second space on Geary Avenue, joining the cool-kid cohort that makes up the block—because who doesn’t want Famiglia Baldassarre, Blood Brothers, Parallel and Standard Time as neighbours?
Half of the new building houses the winery. Until this year, the team had been hauling grapes from Niagara to Creemore, where they were renting production space, then schlepping finished bottles back to the city. Now, Geary Avenue is the base for their entire operation, complete with grape presses, tanks, stacks of barrels and resting, soon-to-come releases.
The other half is the bar-slash-restaurant-slash-tasting-room. Come in for a more formal flight (led by manager Vidal Wu, formerly of Grape Witches and Donna’s) or pop in for a glass after enjoying a plate of pasta down the block. Still hungry? Feast on finger food or dig in to a full chalet-style dinner by chef Kaitlyn Lasagna. No matter the order, it all pairs well with wine.
Last summer, the winery opened with a bang, swinging open the patio, firing up an outdoor grill, and turning out steaks and other patio-perfect plates. The weather being what it is now, Lasagna has turned her focus to more winter fare, namely chalet-inspired dishes—potato gratin, gravy-doused sandwiches and whole chickens.
The focal point here is a honkin’ big rotisserie. Davis, Lasagna and Everitt got it from a shuttered Swiss Chalet in Tobermory. It was cheap, so they threw it in their car and hauled it back to the city. (Then, on the drive back down, they found an actual Swiss Chalet sign at a second-hand store. Talk about a sign!)
But guests shouldn’t get overly attached to this menu. Lasagna’s thinking about adding rotating pastas and gearing up to introduce a Sunday roast complete with sides. When the snow starts to melt, she’ll switch back to more summer-friendly dishes, which means the return of outdoor barbecue.
The selection will rotate, but the current list ranges from classic offerings (De Moor Chablis, Domaine Baud Trousseau, Whitcraft Pinot Noir) to wines from further afield (Tenerife’s Envinate, Quebec’s Pinard et Filles). And of course there’s also plenty of wine made right in the building. Try their skin-contact Riesling, the colour of a hazy summer sunset, or a bouncy, Beaujolais-ish Zweigelt-Gamay blend. Glasses start at around $12 and creep up toward the $18 mark.
The winery will also be ground zero for more exclusive releases—think single-barrel wines and other aged expressions. Most recently, that meant jeroboams (three-litre bottles) of single-vineyard, single-barrel Niagara Cabernet Franc, hand-painted by Paradise Grapevine’s assistant winemaker.
The team describes the space as “high-low”: part Hollywood regency, part Hollywood sleaze. Think gilded chandeliers and a shiny brass bar balanced out by tiger-print banquettes and neon galore. “It’s one of those spaces where you can grab a casual drink during the day, but you don’t feel out of sorts ordering something nice,” says Davis.
It took a lot of elbow grease to get the space to where it is. Co-chef Adrian DiLena built much of the kitchen’s façade, and Lasagna was largely responsible for pouring the concrete flooring.
There’s a nice long bar for camping out, plenty of two-tops ideal for dates, and larger tables for less-intimate hangs. In the summer, the team has secured permits to build a garage door that will open up to the sprawling patio.