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Jun 26, 2006 11:48 PM

Review: Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar

As I was tidying some papers, I came across a menu from Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, where I took my partner for a birthday dinner a couple of months ago. Following are my impressions from the evening, my first at JKWB.

We entered the space on a weekday evening for dinner. We went for dinner a tad earlier than we would normally, perhaps 6:30 or 7:00, owing to the lack of reservations at JKWB. We were impressed by the space and the hostess, who directed us to two open seats at the wine bar. We asked for some water, and began perusing the wine list and menu.

For wine, we opted for a relatively inexpensive bottle of Clos Mimi Syrah. The bartender assured us it was versatile enough to be enjoyed with the varied menu that evening.

For food, we opted to share (of course) a few dishes. I'll tackle each one separately.

Beef Brisket Poutine
I was rather excited about the prospect of JK's poutine of the evening. Sadly, I was disappointed. The fries were great, but the dish itself was far too salty, and lacked good flavour. The brisket's texture was good though. I wouldn't order this dish again

Potato Pancake with Apple Chutney
The pancake was great, and became amazing when sampled with the chutney. I would definitely give this another try. It was a fairly heavy dish though.

Chickpea Crepe with Mushrooms
I can't remember liking or disliking this dish, so I'm supposing that it wasn't terrible nor terrific.

Miso-Marinated Black Cod with Mushroom Consommé
This was definitely the best choice of the evening. The cod was cooked to perfection, and the marinade and consommé were packed with amazing subtle flavour. Baby bok choy accompanied this dish, and soaked up the consommé nicely. I would definitely have this again, and am thinking about heading back to JKWB for this alone.

Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake
The cheesecake was a nice finish to the meal. It was a tad dry for my liking. I actually make my own version of this cheesecake, and it's much smoother and more moist. I guess I just prefer my own over the pastry chef's. I'd skip it for another dessert next time.

All in all, the experience was a good one. Though, without the cod dish, I wouldn't know what all the fuss was about. Next time, I'll take the fries on their own if I'm not brave enough for the poutine. A side note, a nearby diner ordered a pork empanada which looked fabulous.

The service was friendly throughout, though not so attentive that we were stifled by the attention. They let us enjoy our evening at our pace, which was quite nice.

Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar
9 Church Street

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  1. Just to let you know, the menu changes daily, so even though each dish isn't perfected, I find it to be a solid neighbourhood restaurant that I would frequent.

    1. I'm visiting from San Francisco for a conference, and a client took me out to JKWB. It was nice to go there for a very high budget meal. On the other hand, the other consultant there was enrolled in the Master of Wine Course in Sydney, so dinner was also an educational-but-somewhat-intimidating experience.

      Overall, I would *not* go back to JKWB if I were paying with my own money.

      According to our wine expert, the wine list was good but not impressive ... mostly JKWB doesn't like old wines and he does. Partly he complained because the red we ordered (a Barollo for $175) wasn't what he expected but wasn't faulty enough to send back. *shrug*, it's all out of my depth anyway. Tasted good to me.

      The reason I personally wouldn't go back was different: salt. About half of what we ordered ... the salad, the walnuts in the cheese course, the my neighbor's filet ... were nearly inedible due to too much salt. And this was after one of the diners who had eaten there before asked them to take a light hand with the salt.

      Some other stuff (horse tartare, polenta terrine, gooseberry trifle, cheese course) was delicious, but for $100+ per person you kind of expect more than 50% of the food to be correctly seasoned.

      On the up side, ask them to make poutin for you. It's an experience: hand-cut fries, sheep's milk curds, shitake mushooms in veal jus. Kind of like if Alice Waters was Quebecois.

      Also, the service was execellent. But for me, it didn't make up for the salt.

      3 Replies
        1. re: pescatarian

          Yup, horse tartare. I've never had it at JKWB, but it's yummy, as is horse carpaccio (available at Via Allegro, last time I was there). I am told horse was the original tartare meat, but I have no actual evidence of that. It's worth tasting, though. It's also an easy meat to cook. Rare or very rare. Voila!

          1. re: Smalph

            happa izakaya in Vancouver has horse tartare - was very good and affordable too!

      1. Just came back from lunch with a client. I know they are busy with the holiday season, but they placed the four of us on a table that was just about large enough for two. Knees were banging into each other underneath the table. Not good, if the clangee isn't your wife/girl or boyfriend/otherwise romantic interest.

        Our server was.... snotty. A request for a larger table was flatly denied, although there seemed to be additional space available. I didn't want to cause a stink because of the people we were with, but I wasn't happy. Requests to explain some of the food on offer were met with indifference and a sigh.

        The food, when it arrived, was ok. My poutine with pulled pork was fine, the bbq sauce very good. Fries were way too dark, overcooked. Moroccan lamb with couscous was indifferent, cheese and caramelized onion sandwich ditto. Overall the food struck me as overpriced. My colleague remarked on the way back to the office: "Now I remember why I don't go there very often."

        I concur.