Mad Crush Wine Bar
Mad Crush Wine Bar is the evolution of Crush Wine Bar on King (now Fring's) with a conversational wine list that shows off a focus on accessibility and a new breed of sommelier.
The project comes courtesy of the people behind The Oxley, Queen and Beaver and The Wickson Social, and has the same solid foundation as those other bars, but with a modern twist and art deco look.
They worked with Pencil Design (responsible for Dineen’s stunning Commerce Court space) to decorate the breathtaking space complete with skylight and towering mirror behind the bar, seating a mix of sumptuous booth and schoolhouse-like wooden chairs.
Touches like kitschy lamps dot the space that was home to Bar Italia for 27 years, a swoon-worthy graphic element sprawling all over the wall leading to a private space upstairs.
Small cold plates like oysters are prepared at a front bar where a selection of cheeses is also on display under glass cloches.
Luscious sushi-grade butterfish ($14) is served raw with a light but creamy coconut foam, a crunchy, nutty cashew-chili-dulse crumble, and draped with some bright texture-enhancing sea vegetables. The suggested wine pairing is a dry Riesling with high acidity that doesn’t overpower notes of lime in the dish.
Velvety medallions of foie gras ($19) provide French power all the way, but Asian enhancements come through again with unagi studding the actual foie and pleasantly hot squash wasabi on the side. To pair with this comes a rich, ripe white from Southern France that counters the spice.
Charcoal roast leg of lamb ($26) is cooked on a little green egg grill shoved into the corner of the kitchen, visible over the pass at the back of the restaurant.
It’s paired with what could be described as an aubergine lasagna, all layered on top of sharp, creamy chevre melted by the heat of the dish. A fruity red from Niagara complements this dish.
It’s worth noting that for each pairing by the glass, the bottle is still presented to the table, and though it doesn’t necessarily have to be wine you’re sipping, this foundation carries through in that even other spirits like vermouth, sherry and eau de vie are cousins of wine, all beers are aged in wine barrels of some sort.
A Pisco Sour ($13) is a classic cocktail with a kind of Peruvian brandy or eau de vie as a base, finished simply with lime, egg white and bitters.
The Elderflower Fizz ($13) tops off Dillon’s gin, St. Germaine, and lavender honey syrup with Nic Pearce bubbles for a delicate but still solid cocktail with a local element.
Mad Crush Wine Bar embraces the changes the wine trade has undergone and the energy of excited young somms. It's a place to try a variety of grapes fearlessly.