Forget you’re in Toronto at Cote de Boeuf Bar a Vin

Cote de Boeuf Bar a Vin 130 Ossington, 416-532-2333, see listing. On a recent too-short trip to Paris, I spent.

Cote de Boeuf Bar a Vin 130 Ossington, 416-532-2333, see listing.

On a recent too-short trip to Paris, I spent hours navigating various arrondissements, beelining from one bar a vin to another to sip small glasses of wine, most of them natural and all of them delicious.

Most times, returning home to Toronto confirms my love for this city and solidifies my confidence in its charms. But on this particular occasion, my gnawing disenchantment with the lack of local bars (that aren’t restaurants) dedicated to pouring good wine deepened. I sulked, dreaming of a few fleeting afternoons and evenings packed with perfect pet-nat and weird-ass Gamay.

The black cloud of wine bar withdrawal lifted a little when I noticed one recent night that Cote de Boeuf, Ossington’s three-year-old bespoke butcher shop, had a new (to me, at least) sign in the window: Wine Beer Oysters, in blue neon. After two weeks grieving the absence of French wine bars, how could I possibly walk on by?

Inside it smells like dry-aging beef, saucisson and other succulent treats, as a legit French butcher shop should. But after cinq heures, it’s also a wine nook of distinctly Parisian persuasion.

Couples and friends huddle around overturned barrels, sipping wine and nibbling charcuterie.

Wines by the glass are scrawled on a chalk board – Chinon, Brouilly, Bordeaux – all simple, affordable and tasty. As the bar gains traction, organic and biodynamic wine choice will broaden, I’m told.

Owner Teo Paul, who also runs nearby Union restaurant, modelled his bar a vin, which he co-owns with his brother, Chasen Gillies, after a beloved long-standing wine bar he frequented in Paris’s 12th arrondissement called Le Baron Rouge. Known for wine-and-oyster-fuelled apres-marche Sundays, Le Baron Rouge is a particular kind of heaven. There are plans to build an afternoon party similar to the one that goes down on Sundays at Le Baron, minus the drinking and picnicking in the street. (Thanks for nothing, no-fun Ontario liquor laws.) On the up side, the professed purpose of Cote de Boeuf’s next phase is “to keep it loose, without pomp and circumstance,” says Paul. That seems day-to-day-French enough for me.

Family-style steak dinners for six to eight featuring badass cuts of namesake cote de boeuf can be booked on the butcher’s table in the back, and the whole space can be rented out for private parties, which is how Cote de Boeuf after dark got started in the first place. But for now the anterior space is left open for walk-ins seeking wine, charcuterie and killer rib eyes resting on butter-soaked root veggies.

Just relax and drink some wine. You might even forget you’re in Toronto.

Hours Wednesday to Sunday 5 pm to close, though technically wine is served within legal hours of service starting at 11 am.

Access No barrier at entrance, washroom on main floor.

Try these straightforward Ontario sippers:

Rating: NNN

Why This entry level Cab Franc (easily one of my favourite Ontario varieties) from Chateau des Charmes balances lively dark fruit with savoury, smokey background notes. This bottle won’t last long with dinner.

Price $13.95/750 ml

Availability LCBO 162602

Rating: NNN

Why This is an uncomplicated, enjoyably peachy white for a sunny spring day. (It’ll happen – don’t stop believing.) Made by Southbrook’s acclaimed winemaker Ann Sperling, with Niagara grapes grown and vinified according to Sustainable Winemaking Ontario standards.

Price $15.95/750 ml

Availability LCBO 457481

Rating: NNN

Why This juicy, low-alcohol off-dry rose from Cooper’s Hawk in the Essex Pelee Island coast drinks beautifully with chocolate – just in case you’re still hoarding a stash of mini-eggs in your desk.

Price $15.95/750 ml

Availability LCBO 296533

Why Cave Spring’s latest Vintages release, made from a southern Burgundian clone known for its Muscat-iness, is fermented in stainless steel vats in order to uplift the grape’s bewitching nose. The happy result is exceptionally aromatic and squeaky-clean, with generous acidity and then some.

Price $16.95/750 ml

Availability LCBO 246579 | @S_Parns

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