Reds Wine Tavern, located in First Canadian Place, had recently undergone a major revamp – complete with renovations to the entire space, a new menu and a new executive chef. The man in charge is now Ryan Gallagher, Top Chef Canada contestant and the former chef at Lynn Crawford’s Ruby Watchco.
The space was formerly known as Reds Bistro and Wine Bar and was the typical financial district restaurant… filled with suits and appealing to those with expense accounts. Having been to the former restaurant several times, the revamp was a welcome change. I loved the space which now has more of a warm, cozy and less-stuffy feel to it.
The space has two levels – the lower level features a bar/lounge area and the upper level contains the dining room (with two long communal tables down the middle of the space). They also have two private dining rooms – the Bay room, which seats 8 to 10 guests, and the Adeleide room, which seats 15 to 30 guests.
The menu has now been revamped to also appeal to the non-business crowd. It features a bunch of fun “shareables” which include wings, lobster guacamole and lambs in a blanket. Other sections of the menu include “Tavern Plates” which include the likes of fried chicken, striploin and tenderloin, entrée salads and burgers/sandwiches (including a “Butcher Burger”).
And for wine-lovers, you’ll love that Reds Wine Tavern has a selection of 77 wines you can order by the glass!
We started with the Ham Hock Tater Tots – with chive sour cream and house made ketchup ($9.95). The order came with 8 large tater tots (they were a two-biter for me) served in a cast-iron skillet. They were a little crisp on the outside and were stuffed with shredded ham hock. I was hoping they would be a bit crispier on the outside but nevertheless it was a nice sharing appetizer.
For my main, I went with one of the “Tavern Plates”, the Double Cut Heritage Breed Pork Chop – with pan roasted vegetables, caramelized apple and maple rum butter ($24.95). I found the pork chop to be quite tough and had a difficult time cutting through it.
Aside from the pork itself, the caramelized apple and maple rum butter was fantastic! I don’t think there was a lick of it left when our server took away our plates. The vegetables, which included potatoes, zucchini, asparagus and carrots were perfectly cooked.
My friend Grace also ordered from the “Tavern Plates” section of the menu, the Lamb Shank Tagine – with citrus-almond couscous, apricot tomato chutney, fennel and mint salad ($25.95). Thankfully her lamb shank fared better than my pork chop. The lamb was well cooked and paired wonderfully with the sweetness from the apricot tomato chutney. I didn’t try any of the couscous or fennel mint salad but Grace cleaned her plate so I don’t think she had any complaints!
Reds Wine Tavern has a selection of 3 desserts, an apple tart, grasshopper parfait (dark chocolate and peppermint mousse) and carrot cake. We went with the Carrot Cake – with molasses icing, coconut cream, walnut and pecan dacquoise ($7.95). It arrived in four squarely cut pieces which was playfully put together on the plate, drizzled with icing. I found the cake to be moist and while it wasn’t one of the best carrot cakes I’ve had, it was a nice way to end the meal.
One thing I have to mention is the service – our server wasn’t very attentive and often left us hanging. He never really dropped by to see how the meal was or to see if we needed water refills, etc. And when it came time to ordering dessert, we had a difficult time trying to flag him down to take our order… I almost wanted to just pass on it and head on out. But when we ordered dessert he also gave us a small glass of ice wine on the house – not sure if this is something they do for everyone or if he realized we felt a little ignored…
I came in with high hopes for the renovated restaurant with its revamped menu and new chef. Sure, nothing was terrible but nothing we tried really wowed me either.
At a glance:
- Recently renovated – with a new name, new menu and new chef
- Ryan Gallagher, a contestant from Top Chef Canada is now the executive chef
- Food was decent but nothing wowed us
- Great wine selection – 77 wines by the glass
- Located in the heart of the financial district, in First Canadian Place
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 3 stars
- Service: 2 stars
- Atmosphere: 4 stars