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6015 Steeles Ave. E.
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Brothers Food & Wine is a small modern restaurant on Bay at Bloor, with a strong wine focus. Brothers Food & Wine is open for espresso six mornings a week, with food available 11am to 11pm six days a week, closed Sundays.

Review: Oh, Brothers

By Alan A. Vernon, reviewed on December 08, 2016

Yorkville may be Toronto's toniest 'hood, but since most of its well-heeled denizens don't seem to eat, it's been bereft of many noteworthy restaurants since the seventies. Sure, Martin Kuprie's Pangaea lasted for decades until Planta quickly planted itself on Bay and changed the way we look at vegan food overnight. Hopefully this might be the start of a new trend, as another restaurant recently opened just across the street that also needs some foodie love.

Located right outside the Bay exit of the Bay subway, Brothers is an unassuming bistro that might just make this stretch of street a destination for more than pricey shoes and eyeglasses. Formerly a coffee shop, then a hot table, Brothers Food and Wine may have had to cram itself into a wee space, but once inside it feels anything cramped. Perhaps that's because the simply-appointed wine bar is just that: simple, awash in a warm and welcoming buttery hue with few decorative adornments. It even managed to squeeze in some banquette seating at the rear, but trust moi, the bar is place to park it. No better place to watch poser passersby while chewing on some sourdough by Prairie Boy. Drool.

A wine bar it is, but the food figures very prominently. Beef short ribs ($19) with green sauce is just too basic a descriptor for this stunning starter. Four chunks of beef, sans fat or gristle, stand in Stonehenge formation encircling an herbaceous, chimichurri-like pool. Though the beef has a slightly dry coating, it's so flavourful with the vibrant sauce that the complaint seems petty. Same for the Manila clams ($17) in a classic white wine, butter and fresh herbs. Though the portion is a bit on the skimpy side and the broth a bit thin, flavours abound.

Tied for first place are three stumpy, house-made sausages ($21) with Hungarian hot pepper served over a velvety cream sauce. Not only does the expert sauce ritz it up, but topping it with chichi frisée gives it that added je ne sais quoi bistro appeal. The other winner is a beef cheek gnocchi ($24). What astounds aside from the meat's tenderness is the generous size of the chunks of this cut of beef that look more like they belong in a boeuf bourguignon. Delicate pillows of handmade gnocchi topped with freshly grated Pecorino cheese make this a rustic triumph. Clearly this is a kitchen in control even if a rapini ($7) misses big time from an anchovy butter that adds an acrid sourness to a side already blanketed in chilli-flakes.

Yet it's a minor mishap considering what ensues: an exemplary citrus yogurt cake ($9) that's as dense as a pound cake with the moistness of a sea sponge. So moist in fact, I have to double check that it's not undercooked. Plated with a dollop of fresh whipped creme and a smattering of sea buckthorn berries, it has a perfect sweet and sour equilibrium.

Though some dishes may need just a tad more tweaking, Brothers Food and Wine enters the scene firing on all cylinders without an ounce of pretentiousness. Despite its haughty Yorkville locale, Brothers just feels like a neighbourhood watering hole with far better food than you'd expect. From time to time you can feel the subway rumble beneath, but there is really little for me to grumble about here.

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. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

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