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Jan 21, 2009 09:13 AM

No to low corkage fee Toronto

Can you please list restaurants that you know of that have no to low corkage fees.


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  1. the title of your post sounds like you're against low corkage fees.

    Globe Bistro has no corkage fee in January. it's a place on my to try list.

    2 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      Oh...I meant zero corkage to a low corkage fee.

      Also what are the do's and don't of bringing your own wine?

      1. re: katbri

        there's been a thread fairly recently about low corkage and etiquette. Will try to locate for you.

    2. Dr. Generosity on Bloor St .W. has low corkage fees early in the week (Mondays $1.00, Tuesdays $2.00, Wednesdays $3.00) They increase to $15.00 Thurs - Sun. Food and atmosphere are great.

      Dr. Generosity
      2197 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6S1N2, CA

      8 Replies
      1. re: trishna

        If you bring your own wine, give to your server immediately. He/she may just leave it on your table or may take it away while he/she gets a corkscrew, glasses and/or a chilling bucket. After that, it's just like any other bottle of wine. The server may top up your glass when he/she stops by the table, or you could top up your own. That's it!

        The Olde Spaghetti Factory has a fee of only $10. We went there when my husband got laid off and we were desperate to go out for a cheap, fun meal. The River on Roncescalles has no fee on Tuesdays.

        Here's a website that lists all the restaurants that have BYOW and the corkage fees. You can sort the restaurants by fee, which is a nice feature.

        1. re: Sarah Cat

          Unfortunately that site hasn't been maintained (e.g. the first entry 1055 is in its second incarnation since 1055 - replaced by Plakutta and then by Rising). It is also showing $60 for Susur (also long gone) and they started at that level (when the legislation was announced) then dropped to $40 after about a month (to match other upscale places). So be sure to check before you rely on the list.

          And I usually tip generously (assuming good service). Because your bill won't include a 'fair' amount for wine you should add a 'fair' amount to the bill before calculating a tip (after all the server is providing an equivalent service to that if you bought a wine there).
          When making a reservation I regularly ask about BYOB at almost any restaurant. If they don't allow it - say you won't be coming after all - it encourages them to move to that process.
          And Splendido (often cited as the best restaurant in Toronto) has zero corkage Tues-Fri - but that may only be for January.
          Unfortunately my experience has been that many places that 'usually' have very low corkage haven't had exciting food.

          1. re: estufarian

            The bringmywine site is a washout, way, way out of date. I suspect the site turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, so the site-master simply gave up on it months - it not a year or more - ago.

            I'm aware that Paese, a pretty good Italian resto on Bathurst St. north of Wilson Ave., has no corkage fee at all every night but Saturday. Even though Paese has a good wine list of its own.

            And Thai Plate, a tasty Thai spot 6-7 blocks south of Paese, on Bathurst St. between Wilson and Lawrence Ave., charges just $10 for corkage.

            It's a courtesy, I find, to try not to bring a bottle of wine that the resto already has on its own wine list. Paese has its wine list on its web site. And Thai Plate has just a few wines on its list so that the chances that you'll bring something it already has on the premises are extremely remote.

            I also find that, if a resto charges more than $15 for corkage, it's hardly worth bothering to bring your own.

            1. re: juno

              "I also find that, if a resto charges more than $15 for corkage, it's hardly worth bothering to bring your own."

              Umm - how do I put this politely - that probably says more about the wine you drink than anything else! (meant as a joke - not a putdown - I want more of an 'occasion' when I dine out, so I don't bring the stuff I 'regularly' drink at home).

              1. re: estufarian

                You're right, Estufarian. The fact that I'm reluctant to pop more than $15 for corkage probably indicates my price point at the LCBO: about $15. I've gone lower (and often been pleasantly surprised) and higher (and only occasionally been pleasantly surprised) so $15 seems about right for my modest tastes. Given that $14.95 seems to be a major price point of many LCBO offerings, it's doubtless the price point for many others as well. (And for vintners, too - crossing that $15 divide could be dangerous to their sales.) A $15 wine often winds up as about $50 on many wine lists, and I prefer not to pay that at most restos. Because for every place that puts together an intelligent list, keeps its wines in a proper cellar and offers appropriate stemware, ice buckets and such (a place like Scaramouche, for example), there are dozens upon dozens of joints that merely truck the wines in, stash them wherever there's space, then merely dispense them on order - and then charge Scaramouche-like prices. I'd rather spend my money on the food at such places, where there's talent in the kitchen doing interesting things to assorted ingredients, and not spend it on the wine markups. But I'll be tempted to go more often to such places if there's a BYOW policy that appeals (namely, no more than $15 corkage). Then my $15 LCBO wine becomes $30, and I've saved $20 to devote to the food. But most spots with a BYOW policy seem to be charging about $25 corkage, which makes the saving just $10 and not worth my while to tote my bottle into the premises. I'll just have to make do with the wine list on hand. Mind, if my bottle was $75 or so at the LCBO, I'd probably sit still for a higher corkage. But a bottle at that price (which I've stumbled into, occasionally) is something I'd probably drink at home, where the cooking never disappoints. I'll take my $15 bottle out - to a place like the superior Italian spot Paese, for example, where there's no corkage most nights - merely for a nice change from eating in, and a chance to do it for under $100. For special occasions, I'll put myself at the behest of the wine list at, say, Scaramouche (no BYOW policy that I'm aware of there, you can be sure), and try to keep it under $50 a bottle, which isn't hard.

                Would that there were more wine lists like those at three middle-echelon restos of my acquaintance, with good selection and fair prices, thereby obviating the need for BYOW. They are: Le Paradis, a classic French bistro just off Avenue Rd.; Cafe Pleiade, a little gem on Mount Pleasant Rd.; and Ferro, a nice up and down (usually up, though) Italian spot on St. Clair Ave. W. west of Christie. Food's tasty, and often imaginative, at all three. If we had more places like those, there'd be little need for BYOW at all in Toronto. Until then, BYOW with a modest corkage is our only defence against startlingly high wine markups at often-mediocre restaurants.

                1. re: juno

                  Glad you didn't take offence!
                  Coincidentally (maybe not) I also visit the three places you mentioned. And indeed the wine selections at each are value priced (albeit limited).We may have bypassed each other at Cafe Pleiade as I've already been there twice this year! Le Paradis is an old standby but I've stopped going to Ferro since the St Clair streetcar right-of-way was implemented. I never go there now as access is ridiculous (one of those can't get there from here places). Used to drive in 5-10 minutes - now just puts me in a bad mood - alternatively requires subway + streetcar + bus. I'm just as upset with the 40-minute between buses on Mt Pleasant - except they now stop early so I can't get back from Cafe Pleiade so have to drive!
                  And I wish my wine tastes were cheaper too!

        2. re: trishna

          Just back from Dr. G's tonight and feel that I should qualify my recommendation. While they indeed have very low corkage fees ($3.00 tonight), the rest of the experience was spotty at best. I say this with some sadness, as we've had several enjoyable evenings there before tonight. We arrived shortly after 7:30 and were promptly seated. The server saw immediately that we had brought our own wine and dealt with it right away, returning within minutes with glasses and the open bottle. She proceeded to explain the "features" in that saccharine, half-unintelligible voice that is all too common these days and that never fails my husband to whisper, after the server leaves, "What did she say?"

          A basked of warmed bread came to the table along with a small dish of whipped butter. The bread was warmed, as I say, but I had the suspicion that my pumpernickel roll might have been re-warmed at least once, as it was quite the job to chew the thing. Not a big deal, but disappointing.

          I ordered my standard there, the chopped salad with tuna. Which sounds boring but is actually one of the best executed salads I've ever had in a restaurant setting - crisp and varied ingredients, extremely fresh (no picking out of rotten bits, which is so common even in the most surprising of venues). My husband ordered the liver, cooked medium, which came with cheddar cheese and green onion mashed potatoes as well as some crisp cooked green beans, carrots and turnip. His entree was preceeded by a lovely green salad, much like a miniature version of my own, minus the tuna, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

          The mains. I love this salad. I really do. Tonight, though, it felt as if it had just come out of a good 20 minutes in the fridge. It hurt my teeth, it was so chilled. Points off. I have brought half of it home and it sits waiting for lunch tomorrow. I still look forward to it,

          I tasted the liver, which seemed divine, but perhaps it was just the contrast that it provided to my overly-chilly salad. My husband enjoyed it, and ate it all up like a good boy, but said that the very sweet glaze overpowered the liver itself and that he "would not order it again".

          So: rewarmed bread, liver drowned in sweet sauce, a salad yanked out of the fridge, and so-so service. All in all we had a very serviceable but not fantastic meal. Given the low corkage charge, our bill came to only $38.00, which is remarkable value for what we received. We will go back to Dr. G's, as it's just down the street from us, but with lowered expectations than were established by our first few visits.


          1. re: trishna

            I have only been to Dr. G's once, for a reason. There were four of us, not too busy over all. The service was mediocre and the food was forgettable. NO really! All I do remember is not to go back.

        3. The problem with low to no corkage fees is that if a restaurant is any good, they are full despite BYOW, and would be mad to have low corkage fees. Really good restaurants offer BYOW not to save the guest money, but rather to allow them to bring in something really special. If a restaurant is offering no corkage on, lets say, a wednesday night, that means that they are not full on wednesday night, which means they can't really be that good can they? I wait in line at several places in my area of the hood even on monday nights, which means they are full of people buying list wine or BYOW at 20$.

          At 20bux you need to bring a bottle which is 3x that price to make it worth your while if you are doing it to save money. A restaurant will charge between 40-60 for that same wine, which means if you buy a 20dollar bottle, and get charged 20 for corkage, it's like buying a 40 dollar bottle at the restaurant, which will cost them like, 12-20 dollars.

          Or, you can just start going to good restaurants with good value wines on the lists. I always order spanish for value.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Smeagol

            I should probably add that I am actually a fan of BYOB and think it is a great way to get people out more often. I'm not against it in the least. As a waiter, I was always happy with BYOB and often regulars at a restaurant will not be charged at all if they are known there, tip on the wine which is opened, and are generally good about it...But with restaurants with good value wine lists there is often no need for BYOW. Pizza libretto has a fine sangeoveese (SP?) for like 18 bux, and more and more places have spanish and Portuguese wines for under 25. Even with a 8dollar corkage, it makes that 10 dollar Douro into a 18, which one restaurant I go to often charges only 24 for. no one can argue about a 24 dollar bottle of wine which is head and shoulders better than yellow tail or gato nero.

            save BYOW for special bottles and support restaurants with good wine'll have better food too ;)

            1. re: Smeagol

              crap economy folks..!! good on Globe for waking up..More restaurants should step up to the plate! i can bring my very good ,inexpensive S.african cab (not telling))) or malbec and not get dinged ridiculous mark up. Will definately give Globe another look.

              1. re: bruceter

                as long as it's not that neederburg (shudder). why wouldn't you tell? is the LCBO running low? and what is inexpensive?

                1. re: Smeagol

                  ok i will tell you.. i already have my two cases.. But don't let anyone else know. Groot Eiland, cabernet sav... Jan 10 vintages release... 13.95. complex as heck for the money. Hope u like.

                  1. re: carlyle lake

                    actually that was me.. forgot my new password..

              2. re: Smeagol

                Hey Smeagol- please name names- other than pizza libretto, what are some recommendations of restaurants with the under 25 dollar a bottle wines (that also have decent food).


                ps the Spoke Club is embracing the current economy with 0$ corkage on Saturday nights for the near future.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. 1$ corkage at Crush on Mondays