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Skin + Bones Wine Bar

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on January 15, 2013 / review policy

skin and bones torontoSkin + Bones quietly opened late last year on Queen East. Co-owners Harry Wareham and Daniel Clarke (Pizza Libretto, Enoteca Sociale) have brought on Matthew Sullivan (Boxed pop-up dinners) to helm the kitchen and oversee a menu that's developed specifically to highlight the large wine list that is central to the new restaurant's concept.

skin and bones torontoThe cavernous interior is sparsely flourished with deep colours and large scale prints. The dining room takes advantage of raw brick walls and steel, high-beamed ceilings that add an industrial edge. The only warmth is added by the notably convivial service that includes a coat check at the hostess station (traditionalists will swoon) and a knowledgeable staff confident in pairing recommendations thanks to ongoing training sessions with sommelier Michelle Ratzlaff and consulting sommelier Peter Boyd (Scaramouche).

skin and bones torontoTo accompany a light or sparkling wine, I'm told that the Crispy Chicken Tails ($8) are the starter of choice. Here, only the most flavourful bits are cured, confited and then deep-fried golden to order. Salted with burnt grapefruit salt and served alongside a chili buttermilk dressed potato salad, it's one of several comforting and indulgent small plates on a snack menu that also tempts with East Coast Oysters ($2 each) and Charcuterie Board ($11).

skin and bones torontoThe appetizer menu takes a decidedly lighter and more refreshing approach with selections like the Rhode Island Marinated Squid Noodles ($14), which arrives on a bed of dressed greens, studded with tart apple and salty olives, then garnished with chicharrones and fried shallots.

skin and bones torontoThe Beef Cheek Bourguignon ($23) interpretes this seasonal French classic with slow-and-low-cooked beef cheek that's braised overnight until impossibly tender (my knife sat untouched). The accompanying melange consists of roasted Jerusalem artichokes, house-cured lardons, and rich and smoky red wine and beef stock reduction.

skin and bones torontoTo finish, the Sticky Toffee Pudding ($6) is an interesting (though not exactly improved) take on a personal favourite. The texture is less pudding and more bread-like, so the dense cake doesn't soak in the bone marrow caramel sauce as expected. Though it's still very tasty, I might next time opt to see if the Brioche Donuts ($6) are more successful.

skin and bones torontoSkin + Bones is fine addition to Leslieville's thriving dining scene and fans of Enoteca Sociale will appreciate its service style and ambition. Open week round from 5pm, the wine bar closes at 11pm from Sunday to Thursday, but stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

skin and bones torontoPhotos by Morris Lum



Jane / January 15, 2013 at 11:41 am
BlogTO (Liora)- can you comment on the wine at this wine bar? Selection? Cost?
jmy / January 15, 2013 at 02:21 pm
Wine is pricey but generous pours. The food is phenomenal, and the service was really good too.
legswideopen / January 15, 2013 at 02:35 pm
Congrats! you crossed the Don River again... you must've carpooled.
hungry / January 15, 2013 at 04:45 pm
I'm all for quality over quantity but the portions here were pretty small.

Service was attentive, and the atmosphere could be good if they fill it. Let's hope they do!
N / January 16, 2013 at 07:03 am
I'm not sure how you can review a wine bar without even mentioning the wine. Did you not bother having any, or even looking at the wine list?

They have an excellent selection of wines that are difficult to find elsewhere by the glass.

The portions are small because it's a wine bar. The food is meant to complement the wine, which is the star of the show.

And while the space is large and industrial, the red walls and wooden tables go a long way to adding warmth. It's not a cold, cavernous (in the true sense of "cave-like") space at all.
Liz / January 16, 2013 at 11:05 am
I agree with N and Jane- Can you comment on the quality of the wine list? Are there wines I'm able to try by the glass here that I wouldn't be able to elsewhere? Does the food pair well with the suggested wine selections? Is the sommelier able to make good alternative selections for wine pairings? These are definitely things I'd be interested in knowing when reviewing a wine bar.

Also jmy- you do not comment by how generous the pours are- that is irrelevant. The point is whether the wine is good. You can have generous pours of crappy wine. More importantly are the points raised by some of the other readers and myself- see my questions above re: wine selection and pairings.
Name / January 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm
The food looks so 2 dimensional here.
anthony / February 15, 2013 at 06:00 pm
cool vibe large room lots of space ..Food is tasty creative and in some cases outstanding..There was a lack of veggies especially green ones on the menu the two times i ate there but i think that is supposed to change.Lots of foodies and resto owners frequent the place and love it.The owner of prohibition goes there regularily and The exec chef from the Globe bistro was sitting next to me loving his meal once when i was there....it is a place you must try at least once..dont miss it.
mikey / March 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm
Wanted to like this place but just didn't. Positives - Service excellent, wine selection, homemade bread, cheese and sticky toffee pudding. Everything else not so great. Chicken tails way too greasy. Trout no flavour and sitting in a pool of tasteless broth with undercooked potatoes and kale and super greasy fried oysters. All that grease gave me the squirts

Place is just not warm either. Just a huge room.
Aron / July 4, 2013 at 07:24 am
1. Their chicken tails WERE AMAZING. Just took them off the menu. Massive error.

2. Attitude ranges from fine to "we're too cool - you're lucky we're serving you."

3. Won't be back.
Tim / January 2, 2014 at 10:06 am
I've been here a few times now, the food is outstanding. I've never had any attitude and have always left very full! Will be hosting my Dad's 70th here!
timmy2times / March 20, 2014 at 09:17 pm
This review is completely and utterly outdated. You should do another one...!
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