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8 Wine Bar - soft opening

I stopped by the new wine bar that has opened in the space that used to be Doku. (At The Cosmopolitan hotel on Colborne.)

It was ok. There were some service hiccups (which one might expect on the first night), but had a decent looking menu.

In interest of full disclusre we didn't eat there, just had a couple of glasses of wine (my favorite was the moscato di asti), the cheese plate (ok), and the "adult tator tots" which were advertised as tator tots with shreded ham hock and cheddar. They were good, but I'd say they were more potato croquettes.

I expect I'll stop by again and perhaps have dinner someday. Their menu looked interesting and included some tasting sized dishes as well as full entrees. Some of the sides listed on their seasonal menu were macaroni & cheese and frites ($6.00). Other offers included a seafood platter, australian rack of lamb, and black cod, shepards pie with duck confit and foie gras donut (prices ranged from $10 ~ $40).

They also had a seperate menu that offered 8 additional tasting dishes (including an interpretation of chili cheese fries and "bacon and eggs") for $8 and a selection of deserts for $10.

I found their twee and grandiose descriptions of the some of the wine hilarious. (Complete with misspellings)

It will be intersting to see how it goes as it gets into the swing of things.

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  1. No offence to you, but you lost me somewhere between foie gras donut and 8 buck chili cheese fries.

    1. Thanks for the update... how does the room feel? I could never get into the concrete-cool that Doku was trying to channel. Is this space more inviting? Is the wine list at least interesting?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rabbit

        I believe that Zoltan Szabo designed the wine list so it should be pretty damn interesting!

      2. Question about the cheese: was it properly tempered? Most (i.e. 99.9%) of Toronto restos (including high end ones) get this wrong. And how much of a selection do they have?

        How is their by-the-glass program? How many wines do they offer and what amount of pours?

        If there are indeed spelling mistakes on the wine list, that would turn me off immediately.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

          Can't comment on the cheese....looked yummy but didn't actually partake.

          They have 3, 5, and 8 oz pours as wells as bottle prices. There is a good range of wines (red, white and desert) as well as a full bar.

          Went again this evening. Loved it. It will be a preferred hangout for me.

          1. re: avocado_lover

            Went last night for a couple glasses of wine and a bite. It was fine. Just fine.

            I had been to Doku 15 and, although the place was "completely renovated", to me it had the same vibe. House music at first and later some jazz. The place was practically empty. Service warm and helpful. In my view, it's too formal for a wine bar -- white tablecloths, shiny silverware, place settings at the table on arrival.

            I went with a friend for a couple of glasses of wine and a bite. She had an Israeli viognier that was very nice (I forget her other glass). I had an Italian pinot (fine, $14 for an 8 oz pour), a nice Montalcino ($13 for a 3 oz pour), and a very nice moscato d'asti ($5 for a 5 oz pour). The wine menu was good, but on the pricey side -- I would say a little higher, on average, than Reds.

            The 2 bites we had were really not very special. Frites (tasty but unsalted and not hot, on the thick side), and the charcuterie platter (niagara prosciutto, 2 slices of duck breast, some chopped chicken liver pate, fig conserve, and a slice of fois with what tasted like cloudberry on top, a few crackers on the side -- nice enough, but it didn't feel super-fresh).

            Worth a try.

            1. re: avocado_lover

              I love his tasting notes for the Niagara Syrah. Kinda' useless, but pretty funny...

              "2002 Syrah, Daniel Lenko, Niagara
              One of the finest Syrah around! Would rival any of its Rhone counterparts! Its maker, Daniel, loves women, fast cars and bulldozers! Don't we all?!"

              And if these are the same notes as on the actual in-house list, I saw some types or spelling errors too... Orange "comfit"? Comfy? Cute...

              1. re: morrigan

                saw that too...good tasting note and funny too...we took tte menu and wine list (we collect them...) and looking at it now...it's "confit"..."orange confit" under one of the bubbly...is that what you refering to, morrigan? one thing...the couple sitting beside us were reading the list out loud the other night...that list might be a small part of that bar's attraction, sincerely, A.
                p.s. thanks all for the Moroccan restaurant recos for tonight!! have a good weekend all!

                1. re: avocado_lover

                  Yes - but on the website above it's spelled coMfit. Which sounds like a very relaxed orange:). I will try it soon...in fact myself and couple of girlfriends had intended to grab a glass of bubbly there before a spa afternoon a couple weeks back, but it hadn't opened yet. We ended up at The Irish Embassy, which isn't quite the same thing...will have to stop by soon...I love 3oz pours as I get to try more wines.

                  And please let us know where (if?) you go for Moroccan. I've been walking by The Sultan's Tent for years and wondered about it, so if you end up there I'd be happy to hear about the food...

            2. Got snowed in at the Cosmo last night so ended up eating at Eight.

              Room reno is an improvement. The changes aren't revolutionary, but I think they have succeeded in making the room feel cozier and less concrete-bunker-like by adding some warm red tones and some quite comfy couches. Asian theme is mostly gone from the room, and also from the menu, which I would now describe as pushing upscale-d comfort foods.

              Food was quite good. Charcuterie plate included a Niagara duck proscuitto, fois gras terrine served on top of a nice apple relish, serano ham, duck riette and what we think was a bit of cold chicken salad. This came plated with some crispy flatbread and a generous dollop of fig jam and it seemed like a totally reasonable deal for $18.

              We were eating light and so both had the oxtail ravioli with red sauce and king oyster mushrooms. Four large pasta pillows had a nicely flavoured filling and a very good red sauce. This dish would have have left a bigger eater hungry, but it was a very pleasant plate for $16.

              Mr. Rabbit tried the Adult Tater Tots($6) prepared with ham and cheddar. He thought these were good grown-up junk-food fun and ate them all before I got a chance to sample.

              Mr. Rabbit put back a well mixed Manhattan, while I chose from Eight's wine list. Eight is a wine bar, but this was where things kinda broke down for me. They have a good selection of by the glass wines (as previously reported) with 3, 5, and 8 oz pours (also noted above). I was drinking red, and the list was a bit heavy on Italian and Aussie offerings, but also featured a number of very interesting zags, including offerings from Israel, Greece, and Turkey. I originally ordered an Oregon pinot, but they were out so server recommended a Turkish tempranillo. This was a really fun drinker, great large-and-fruity flavour with a distinctive and pleasant edge. But I thought it was stupidly priced at $22 for a 5 oz pour. In fact many of their 5 oz pours were priced in the 20-something range, and it just seemed a bit over the top. I can't ever recall seeing a bottle of Turkish wine selling at $22? Mark-ups seemed high to me, probably too high. So we decided to retire to our room to drink some champers we'd brought with.

              Still, having not been a Doku 15 fan, I quite liked Eight - despite feeling a little gouged and wounded by their wine pricing, and I may well stop by again to check out some of the other offerings on their new menu.

              13 Replies
              1. re: Rabbit

                I have never heard of a tempranillo from Turkey. Not that I'm any kind of expert, but... Do you recall the name of the wine or any part of the name? I, personally, would be curious to know how $22 for 5 oz relates to the cost of the bottle.

                1. re: Non Doctor

                  I'm not made curious by the celeb sommelier concept, although I do appreciate an empathetic palate. It's the potential distance between the resto's selling and buying prices that has me so. I was hoping for a name so I wouldn't have to speculate.

                  1. re: Googs

                    Was new to me too! I didn't see the bottle and it wasn't on their list. It was a server rec when they didn't have my first choice and I was just going with the flow and didn't check up on particulars. In retrospect, I wish I'd been more attentive. The wine itself was surprisingly good - it was just the price that took me aback.

                    1. re: Rabbit

                      There isn't a single tempranillo from Turkey on either the LCBO or Vintages websites...so even had you paid attention, it likely would have been challenging to find it...

                      1. re: morrigan

                        A wine bar would be challenged if they only sourced through the LCBO. That said, I can find nothing through private suppliers either locally or abroad.

                        1. re: Googs

                          Now you've made me curious too. All I can find is this very marginal note (article is from August 07) indicating that at least one Turkish producer is indeed importing tempranillo grapes to add more range to his wine offerings:


                          One other note about Eight. We also stayed at the Cosmo last night (Saturday) and arrived back-at-hotel after dinner at Colborne Lane (more about that later!) at about 12:30.

                          Eight was absolutely jammed with 20-somethings, many of them obviously and obnoxiously drunk (like singing and staggering drunk), and it was a real turn off. The place was very civilized when we had 8:00 dinner on Friday but any thoughts of a nightcap were totally dashed by the grossness of this scene. I spoke with the doorman this morning, and apparently it's like this late-night on weekends. So, unless you like near-vomit-y 20 year olds singing Rihanna, be cautious about when you choose to frequent this spot.

                          1. re: Rabbit

                            Maybe they were looking for Toronto's sexiest sommelier! No thanks. I think I'll stick to a place that caters to adults.

                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                              do not underestimate the young(er) generation of wine lovers...see attached article in The Star...

                            2. re: Rabbit

                              Hey Rabbit! You are quoted in the Post today, although it was attributed to Googs -

                              Eight Wine Bar
                              8 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1E1, CA

                              1. re: JamieK

                                Thanks for the heads-up Jamie K... Mr. Rabbit and I were just giggling over the paper.
                                Noticed that you got a mention too re: KiWe.
                                Also, Googs got a sex change (at least I always assumed that Googs is a she!).

                                Still, really good fun to see ch'ers in Mallet's review.

                                1. re: Rabbit

                                  ah but! it wasn't me --- that was actually Recyclor -

                                  I guess when you're quoting anonymous bloggers, accuracy doesn't really matter.

                                  1. re: Rabbit

                                    I'm actually only offended at the notion that I would ever go inside the doors of a place serving foie gras donuts or 8 buck chili cheese fries. My feminine common sense wouldn't allow it.

                                    No offence intended towards Mr & Mrs Rabbit and their good taste.

                              2. re: Googs

                                You are absolutely right! That said, I meant that it might be hard to buy for home consumption if it's not in the LCBO/Vintages...I've had that problem a few times when I liked something that wasn't readily available. Can be kinda' frustrating.

                      2. Had a birthday dinner here last night with a freind. We were one of thre tables in the dining room (tuesday night) though the bar was full thankfully it was in an adjacent room so we could not hear the chatter.

                        Service was attentive they seemed quite overstaffed but I guess everone is in training. The waitress said that they were haveing their officail opening next week and they will have 120 wines by the glass. The wines are not cheap and like someone else stated not as vairied as one would hope.. only one california red etc...

                        the menu is interesting but to be honest did not live up to its self... had the foie gras donuts on apple. what was delivered was 3 little puff balls sitting on diced apple, cut in half with tiny slivers of foie in the center... these were covered in a sweet syrup whick overpowered all the taste. The tomato and buffallo Moz salad was actually cooked tomatoes which fell apart was you tried to eat them almost like a stewed tomato. I found it very bland in flavour. Next was the trio of burgers.. buns were good (same as at trevors) one burger was a lamb, one buffalo and one beef. all with different toppings. The lamb was underwheming and a bit "dense" and hard to eat.. the others were fine but no Wows..

                        Up next was the ravioli with buffalo I think but this too was a miss, the pasta was very rubebry and seemed to have been made days before.. the inside was a grey mush like aout of a can.. then we had roast organic chicken with roast veg.. (we shared all plates between the two of us.. and each had different 3oz reds with each course (pours were on the large size for 3oz tasters). Chicke was the higlight dish but then again it is not that hard to roast a squab!... Lstely they gave me dessert on the house which was a block of cheese cake wrapped in filo pastry with cherries... it was nice looked like a birthday present which was a nice touch.

                        Do not know what the bill was but with the wine I am sure was not cheap. Food prices are reasonable but quality needs to be improved. On the way out had to squeeze past the drinkers at the bar which was a bit of a put off...

                        Do not think I would return..

                        1. Went to the website.

                          Just a curiosity. It states in the "About" section that the sommelier is the "master sommelier Zoltan Szabo". Interesting use of words, particularly that the master is not capitalized. Anytime I hear "master" sommelier, I associate it with the the Court of Master Sommeliers, which I'm pretty sure he's not part of. Or am I mistaken? In any case, seems a very clever marketing ploy.

                          Perhaps the professional body should consider a suggestion in limiting the use of the word "master" to describe a sommelier, who's not in fact an MS.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                            Interestingly, there is a *John* Szabo listed in the Court of Master Sommeliers list for 2004... I wonder if they were referring to him...

                            1. re: morrigan

                              John & Zoltan (unrelated) are partners in Szabo & Szabo. Both are very knowledgeable.

                              1. re: estufarian

                                John Szabo is a Master Sommelier. Zoltan is not.


                                1. re: estufarian

                                  Estufarian, they still work together, but Szabo and Szabo (as an entity) are no more...John Szabo is now Vice-President of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

                                  1. re: Dean Tudor

                                    Yes, I figured something was up as I clicked on their website & it didn't respond.

                                      1. re: avocado_lover

                                        Umm. Not sure what the previous 'Avocado Lover' post is all about. I'll happily let Dean Tudor respond - except I'm not sure what he's supposed to respond to (and my previous post comes just ahead of this, so I'm caught in this sandwich).
                                        Dean explains that the 'corporate entity' of Szabo & Szabo is no more. He doesn't even comment on the 'master' Sommelier issue - perhaps you meant to direct your comments to 'Splendid Wine Snob' (?).
                                        Whatever you intended, it seems to me that the 'subtlety' of using 'master' Sommelier vs 'Master' Sommelier would be lost on most readers. It is (at best) confusing, and if 'accidental' speaks to the lack of knowledge of the organization. If 'deliberate' it speaks to the lack of ethics! Either way, Eight loses for me.
                                        Incidentally, I do know both John and Zoltan and was invited to the opening (by Zoltan) - which I couldn't attend because of a conflicting engagement. And I have huge respect for both John & Zoltan.

                                        1. re: estufarian

                                          I've communicated with both John and Zoltan, and apparently it was an error in writing up the paragraph on the website. I am told it has now been corrected...Zoltan is studying for the upper case Master designation....

                                2. re: avocado_lover


                                  My previous comments regarding the use of the word "master" can certainly and rightly be deemed anal. However, my point is: what is a "master" sommelier anyway? Coming from an academic background, we normally use formal letters as a way of describing one's level of education, and this is the case with a Master's level designation in the wine world. In the end, the letters don't matter because it is what you do with your knowledge and skill that does. However, I always become a little leery when I hear someone describe themselves as a master of anything. I like to be the master of my own universe. And there is really no direct offence intended to Mr. Zoltan Szabo at all.

                                  1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                    Does that make you a formally trained (capitalized) splendid wine snob? Where did you go to school for that? Just kidding. I always appreciate your perspective.
                                    Wondering what you think about the excellent cheese program at the Niagara St Cafe?

                                3. Has anyone been here recently? The menu has changed since these posts went up, and I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on the new dishes. The "Crab Mac and Cheese" and "Bacon and Eggs" as apps sound intriguing!