I like wine. I like cheese. I like charcuterie. All three make for a simple repast, where agonizing over a menu is conveniently removed from the travails of the day. The hallmark of a good wine bar, in my books, is that there are lots of wines to choose from with a half decent cheese and appetizer selection.
Swirl, the latest addition to the Leslieville scene, is easy to miss. The sign doesn't really stand out. Maybe that's intentional....It's a second floor living room sized, kitschy bar with
charm. The private rear dining room is the first thing you see after walking up the rickety stairs. The little front room has wanky sewing machines and cast off doors converted into tables. Uncomfortably narrow bench seating lines the walls, but being Friday night, it's packed anyway. Who knew?
This one person serving operation looks challenging, but we are served promptly and all questions answered as if we're the only ones there. Our first glasses are whites and the suggested replacement for my unavailable Torrontes is a very fruit forward pinot grigio at a reasonable $8 a glass. My guest orders the Viognier at $11, but it's a disappointing vins de pays and quite ordinary at that price.
We try the little jarred serving of Creton, that Qubecois mix of pork, breadcrumbs and spices, spread on baguette slices. Since there really aren't any standard main courses, our 'supper' consists of a cheese plate and a charcuterie plate. When the cheese arrives, a well priced bottle of Montepulciano helps to improve it. Simply presented on a bread board with three condiments, the highlight to the cheese is a crunchy preserved pear alongside two fruit preserves. While it looks like a small order for $15, it's actually just the right amount as the cheeses selected are rich. An incredibly creamy camembert, goat cheese and a blue make the wine shine. Cheese supplies come from, where else, The Leslieville Cheese Market. Chef Joan Olsen makes pates, confit and preserves off premise. An eclectic service style of most items is from the mason jars they are packed in. It's a very cool, practical idea...
Give Swirl a twirl. It's funky and fun.
Wheelchair Access: No
Surprise, Surprise: Compact, interesting wine list.
Hint: Ask for wine recommendations!
FIVE STARS: (Extraordinary) A one-of-a-kind, world-class experience.
FOUR STARS: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality menus and/or savvy service.
THREE STARS: (Good) Solid places that beckon with generally appealing cooking.
TWO STAR: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it might have something worth recommending.
ONE STAR: (Poor) Below-average restaurant.
*Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities.
All reservations are made under assumed names. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.