Arbar is a wine bar with Italian fare and wine on tap, offering a wide selection of bottles from around the world to the neighbouring residents of CityPlace.
It's surprisingly casual in here; contrary to what you'd expect from its website and exterior, Arbar – a play on the words "our bar" – feels more like a sports bar than a formal sit-down restaurant.
With TVs playing the latest game, DJ nights and live music on Wednesdays, Arbar is equal parts date spot and post-game hangout, also offering a list of cocktails and a handful of beers on tap.
Their menu features eight taps pouring reds, whites, and rosés from the beloved winery capital of Canada, Niagara.
For $9 you can get a flight of three tap wines at two ounces each glass. It's an opportunity for newcomers to taste wines like the Creekside Sauvignon Blanc or the Henry of Pelham Baco Noir.
Stuffed behind some seating in an enclave of the restaurant sits the wine case, which holds between 45 and 55 bottles of wine from vineyards in Chile, France, Italy, Spain and South Africa, to name a few.
Prices range from $33 – the Canadian Creekside Pinot Grigio – to $250 for the Billecart-Salmon champagne from France. If your level of discernment isn't quite at connoisseur-level, you can head over to the case and ask staff for some guidance.
A glass of Arsangria ($11) comes with Duff Gordon brandy, peach schnapps, orange bitters and your choice of tapped wine. We get a white sangria mixed with the Angel's Gate Riesling.
The Arcocktail ($12) is a mix of dark rum, maple syrup, orange juice and rose water that lacks the kick of alcohol I'm looking for but has a punch of zesty orange from the West Indian bitters.
While Italian from the outside, the food menu at Arbar is really a hodgepodge of dishes that resemble typical bar fare. Alongside fettuccine alfredo ($16) they also offer wings ($14) and teriyaki shrimp bowls ($19), items which totally detract from the wine bar experience.
The Arboards (if you haven't noticed, "ar" is a prefix for many items on this menu) come with your assortments of meat, cheese or a blend of both, and are served with a toasted garlic baguette.
They also have a seafood board ($24) which comes with smoked salmon, smoked mackerel and a small bowl of pickled shrimp, cuttlefish, octopus and squid.
Marinaded for a week in a mix of oil, sriracha and other spices, the pickled seafood is buttery and refreshing.
The Caesar salad (Arcaeser, sorry) is my favourite thing here. For $11 you get a huge bowl of romaine lettuce, homemade croutons, and Caesar dressing made in-house with a little apple juice and apple cider, making it a little sweeter and less garlicky than other types.
The Arbolognese ($20) has ground veal, tomato sauce and uses a blend of four wild mushrooms. Falling short of hearty, it's topped with parmesan cheese and served on a long plate. Zucchini noodles ($18) are vegetarian and gluten free, with capers, sundried tomatoes, and rosemary-infused oil. Texturally, they were decent, but overly saucy and in need of some self-administered black pepper.
To finish off the meal, desserts like apple cranberry crumble and chocolate banana brownie cake are all $8. The order of cannoli comes with four pieces in an assortment of flavours that change weekly.