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JK Wine Bar

Hi folks,

heading here tomorrow night, wondering if there are any tips regarding a good time to head over, approximate wait times, and "must-order" items. Thanks for the help.


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  1. Since they don't take reservations and it's Friday night, if you're there by 6 you should be able to get a decent table.

    1. They do fish amazingly. I would definitely try a fish dish. But then again, I'm a 'fish' person....

      Menu changes daily (though not by much)

      1. The duck confit is fantastic, if you're lucky they'll be serving it with the sweet potato gratin tomorrow! Would also recommend going for their wine pairings...

        1. Turns out JK Wine Bar doesn't take reservations at all anymore. What's it like on a weekday? I'm considering going for my birthday, but I don't want to wait (or make my group of hungry friends wait).

          1. The daily poutine is always a good bet. My favourite is the braised beef poutine, but they are generally all yummy.

            1. Antifoodie,

              I think the difficulty of getting a table at JKWB may be slightly over-hyped. I was there the day after Valentine's Day (it was Thursday, we went on Friday) around 8:30. We went across the street to the Keg for a (v. quick) martini beforehand while we waited about 20 mins for a table. There were just two of us though and we had expressed a willingness/desire to sit at the kitchen bar. I imagine things get exponentially trickier as your group size grows beyond, say, four. Also it's film fest time so take that into account.

              1. Agree with other posters that getting a table is usually not a problem. I was there last Saturday they just sat us right away - no wait. This was around 8PM. The longest I've ever had to wait was about 45 minutes.

                Can't miss items (as of last week)... the braised beef poutine, the smoked whitefish, the duck confit, and of course the cheese plate.

                1 Reply
                1. In the spring, I arrived around 6 and was seated promptly.

                  Looking at the current menu, I recommend the Crisp Pork Belly, Duck Confit, Entrecote Beef and the fries.

                  While I enjoyed the Braised Beef Poutine, I didn't think it came close to meeting the hype of the dish.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Rudiger

                    Second the Duck confit and the Entrecote Beef and the poutine.

                    1. re: mlukan

                      Must-order? Just the plain old frites.

                  2. Tried JK on Friday night, but there was a 90 minute wait, so had to miss it. Crazy. Maybe it was a film festival thing, I had not heard of such a long wait, but it was prime time on a Friday. I'll give it another shot, I'm sure. We decided to go to Six Steps on Colborne Lane, which was okay. I had the tuna, nicely prepared with a decent tapenade and my partner had a tasty pasta dish -- but it certainly wasn't in the same league. Or, at least, I hope it wasn't.

                    cheers, thanks for the help.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: antifoodie

                      I'm sorry I didn't see this post until today or I would have warned you that we went about a month ago on a Friday and there was also a 90 minute wait. We wound up going elsewhere (for a sub-par meal, sadly). However, in the winter months I've never had any trouble with wait times so hopefully you'll be able to try again once the summer crowds die down!

                      1. re: antifoodie

                        Headed there on Saturday. Arrived around 5:45. Absolutely 0 wait time. Even by the time we left the resto at around 7:30, there were empty seats galore. Guess Fridays are just more popular than Saturdays.

                        p.s. I found the food definitely slipped compared to pre-Tobey leaving. The fish was overcooked this time and everything was a tad bit too salty and overcooked in general (of course, my preference leans toward the uber-rare). Dessert was a huge disappointment. Will write more later.


                        1. re: BokChoi

                          Hello BokChoi,
                          I was there last week too! Agree with you about 'slippage of food quality'! Thank God both our fish dishes ( pickerel and trout ) were cooked OK, We used to love the chaucuterie platter, however, first time after five tries that we found the 'chicken liver pate' 'unappealing' - way to gamey. Our only 'salty' dish was the cauliflower soup. Lastly, the excellent entrecote steak with mushrooms was still very good. The peach upside down cake was too sweet for my palete.

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            It may be convenient to blame the slippage on Tobey leaving - but in my experience it slipped well before she left. I was hoping it would improve - didn't seem possible it would slip further. last time I went (in the early spring, I think) it was pretty bad. My companions (we were a group of 8) still talk about it as the worst meal of the year (and Tobey was "in-the-house" that evening). To be fair, I've had worse elsewhere - but it was my worst ever at JKWB.

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Darn. Why couldn't I have read these reviews before I went there for my disappointing meal? The last time I was there, I was still excited that a restaurant in Toronto could get fish right - not overdone, and not marinated to death in some sort of citrus, but alas, the great-fish-dish at JKWB has gone the way of the dodo (their Striped bass was okay though, the best dish of the evening). No huge loss though, Nota Bene will have to fill the gap for now.

                              I'm mostly bitter because I don't enjoy wasting my money.

                              1. re: BokChoi

                                Hay BokChoi! If you really like great fish dishes, currently, I find Starfish and Zee Grill the two most consistent in town. Chiado is good too but for 50% price premium I would stick with the former.

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Ahh, thanks for the tip Charles_Yu. Value is first and foremost with me all the time, so I will take your advice on Starfish and Zee Grill. Have not tried Chiado either, but it was on my list. Fish is so delicate and difficult to do well. I find it is truly a mark of a great chef to be able to perfect a fish dish. My fondest memory was actually earlier this year at Degustation in NYC. Trumped Jean Georges by a long shot. Nothing (in my eyes) can really beat a nice olive oil poached fish done extra-rare. What preparation method do those recommended restaurants employ currently? Just so I can get an idea as well as a dish recommendation for when I try it.


                                  sugarcube, sorry to hear about that experience. Wonder why they wouldn't just purchase an extra few dogs and throw them on the barbee and make it the special of the day..? If it's good enough for Susur, then it should be good enough for their paying customers, no? Ah well, guess us regular folk cannot expect to be treated like Culinary Royalty for a day (/sarcasm dripping). Guess he was just trying to impress (the wrong clientele - doubt Susur would be considered a 'regular').

                                  Doubt I'd give JKWB another chance, as there are so many other restos out there I have yet to try. Interesting to see that he now has 2 new ventures starting up - Gilead and another poster that I saw up outside JKWB. Quite the empire he's building. Be interested in hearing what people think of those other two places.


                                  1. re: BokChoi

                                    Hard to say since menu is ever revolving. However, enjoyed in both places, simple pan seared wild sea bream or sea bass, skin down, crispy finish and placed on top of a bed of either sauteed pea shoot, baby spinach or rapini with either broth or light cream sauce finishes. Oven roasted wild Pacific Halibut or Florida Garoupa was also executed very well. Crispy, brownish edge and nice and juicy inside. Particularly good when they have lobster sauce reduction. I also had a NewZealand fish ( with a funny name ) once in Starfish that was absolutely amazing! Best thing is to call ahead!

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      Charles, that NZ fish was tarakihi and I agree that it was fantastic. The only other place I've had that fish was in New Zealand itself!

                                      BokChoi, you can go wrong with either Starfish or Zee Grill. Just pick the location that is more convenient for you (downtown vs. midtown). Zee Grill does have the bonus of being near two gelato spots for dessert. :)

                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                        Thanks for the recommendations Charles_Yu and TorontoJo. The fish dishes you described, Charles Yu, sound tantilizing indeed. I will definitely put those on my list to try. Used to be a meat/beef person in my younger days, but as I get older, I find that I lean towards the lighter fare, such as fish and vegetables.


                                  2. re: BokChoi

                                    I hear you BokChoi. While our overall experience there was quite enjoyable (staff was very friendly), admittedly the fish came out far too greasy. Also our halloumi had nice grill marks on it but I guess wasn't heated long enough to deliver that oozy goodness I expected the cheese to have.
                                    And there was the blatant lack of subtlety on Chef's Dan DeMatteis's part when Susur walked in one night with his son and took a seat beside us. Dan pretty much was non-existent and after S's arrival, overtook the kitchen at the bar with dishes ablazing for said chef. When new patrons arrived and asked to order the i.e. sausage they saw on the grill that was not on the menu, the staff had to tell them that it was acutally for Susur only... (-insert awkward uncomfortable silence here-)
                                    I realise Susur's a respectable/ 'famous' chef but IMO Dan was a tad overzealous and displayed a lack of professionalism there.

                              2. re: antifoodie

                                we always just go, give our cellphone # to the hostess and have a drink at The Foundation Room while we wait- works out fine-

                              3. Hi,
                                IMO poor service,average food,high Prices = waist of time