Toronto, ON M6J 1H8
Piquette is a bohemian neighbourhood spot in the Queen and Dovercourt village. Reminiscent of the 11th Rue in Paris, this rustic and relaxed wine bar is the perfect place to belly up to the bar and spend the afternoon sipping on some of the most unique wines and curated small plates in the city.
This wine bar is the latest project from homegrown restaurateur, chef Grant van Gameren of Bar Raval, Quetzal and many more. But, with this restaurant comes a new team. Ellen Shrybman and Nathan Morrell, two former Bar Isabel staff, have taken the reigns at Piquette and hope to introduce a more European and laid back atmosphere to approaching wines. “[Piquette] is about making wine unpretentious,” says Morrell who used to be the head sommelier across all of van Gameren’s restaurants. “We wanted the attitude that’s a little more convivial and little less formal and serious, we have serious wines here as there are in Europe, but you don’t always have to enjoy them in that capacity, you can have it at a table with friends, not over-analyzing everything, ” says Shrybamn who was a huge part in creating van Gameren’s wine agency, Parasol.
“We just thought of things that would taste good with wine, stuff that you would have in a wine bar, which I guess are usually European. But you know we wanted salty fishy things and more robust flavours” says Ellen Shrybman about Piquette’s menu. In traditional fashion, the wine bar is fitted with snack-sized portions, perfect to pair with a glass of vino. The small plates are ingredient-driven, showcasing farm fresh produce from Prince Edward County and charcuterie from Scott Draper (local charcutier). The van Gameren touch is evident in the display of antipasti located near the pass. The spread of olives, sardines, terrines and cheese are out for the guests to peruse while they wait for their wines and take a gander at the chalkboard menus.
The heart of this restaurant is Shrybman and Morrel’s carefully selected and extremely personal wine list. Made up of producers, winemakers and friends of the restaurant, the beverages are the driving force behind Piquette. Both Morrell and Shrybman agreed that when choosing which wines were to be featured on the list, there were no rules. They based the list on wines they enjoy drinking, are excited about and want to share with their guests. The list is made up of small and larger producers and features bottles from all over the world. Noteworthy names include Pearl Morisette, Sottise and Savoie. They also have a small selection of crushable beers on tap, including the most recent member of Prince Edward County’s craft breweries, Matron Fine Beer.
The space at Piquette was a collaborative effort from designer Ali McQuaid at Future Studio and mill worker Jeff Crews. The woodwork in the restaurant is at the forefront, with their gorgeous carved bar and the double-door wine fridge, which is a masterful work of art and basically the centrefold of the entire space. The white brick wall and earthy tones are harmonized to create a bohemian yet elegant vibe that looks super cosy, while still remaining bright and airy.