Quick report on Vertical (July 30/07) -
Mr. Rabbit and I finally got a chance to eat at Vertical (I'd been for cocktails, but no food).
Vertical has a gorgeous patio (as mentioned in various threads this summer). We settled in, and I opted for a glass of Margan's shiraz saignee (a really nice summer wine with just a bit more punch than "regular" rose... I eventually put back three glasses... ack!), while Mr. Rabbit has a capirinha (also nicely made). After working our way through a bowl of nuts and some geeky, CH-ish menu study, we decided that we were ready to commit to dinner (not part of Plan A).
Skipped an app (although there were some tempting options), and Mr. Rabbit went right to the boar pappardelle, while I ordered the potato wrapped tuna with roasted eggplant and salsa rossa ($35). Meanwhile, we picked at a variety of three breads (regular baguette, something herbed, something we think was a blue potato bread... all OK).
Mr. Rabbit is working on becoming a connoisseur of wild boar pastas, and he really liked Vertical's edition (which I think just edged out his North End Boston fave). The papardelle had just the right bit of heft for the sauce, which seemed quite correctly proportioned for the dish (it's not always like that with pastas!). At $22, this is a not-bad bargain, and I think we may find ourselves sitting at the bar eating more of this stuff during the colder months - nicely done! To go with, Mr. Rabbit drank a passable chianti, but he really wanted a French red and there are no such offerings on their by-the-glass menu (seems to focus on Italian), which we found slightly odd. Wine is expensive-ish here - nothing under $11 (many reds $15 or more), but it is Bay Street, and I found that overall their selection was interesting enough (despite the luxurious no-French-red "problem").
My tuna was OK. The serving was very generous (we brought half home!), and the fish itself was well executed. The eggplant side was very tasty as well. But this plate came absolutely drenched in EVOO. I actually had to build a little dam of salsa rossa to try to partition some of the oil, and I didn't eat my second piece of fish because it was just too slippery. I didn't order this dish expecting health food, but it was really a bit much.
We finished with a tiramisu that I thought was sursprisingly good. Nice boozey base, delicious custard, rich but not overwhelming cocoa-y accent.
Service was relaxed, informal and personable... but sometimes verging on too slow (they were not overly busy on the Monday night). Note that the barstaff have an insidious habit of approaching with bottle when asking if you want a wine refill (who doesn't always want another glass of wine??... I fell for it consistently).
The total... 4 glasses of wine, one cocktail, two mains, one dessert - $145 (before tip). I suspect we'll be back (definitely for tippling, if nothing else), although I'd order something different next time around.
Nice review, Rabbit. The caipirinha was great and I thought the wild boar pappardelle was better than the wild boar rigatoni at Lucca Boston. On the other hand, the wine list is a bunch of young plonk from Italy and the New World for $11-$18 per 6oz glass. Sadly, this seems to be the norm for Toronto.
re: Mr Rabbit
While I would tend to agree that most restaurants (especially Bay St.) have uninsipred by-the-glass lists, I think you have to admire Vertical for actually having focus. They don't have French/Spanish/German etc. on the list because they want to focus on Italy. They are an italian restaurant afterall. I would suggest that you maybe take a better look through their list next time you are by. (not having Aussie and Cali wines on any list on Bay St. is restaurant suicide, unfortuneately.)