On Tuesday, I
found myself at Bistro 990, on Bay Street, awaiting director Chris Wedge,
who was in town promoting the DVD release of Ice Age. Normally, that wouldn't
merit my attention but my dog went wild when I was watching this animated
flick. And I've heard cats sit mesmerized during this one, too. So I thought
it might be fun to talk to him about it.
I thought Bistro would
be a good place for the interview because it has the best chicken breast
in town. I'm told Meg Ryan and Sharon Stone think so too, and order the fowl
whenever they're in town -- Bistro 990 being Toronto's restaurant to the
I waited at the bar, where the long-time ma?tre d', the elegant
Fernando, took my coat and gave me a basket of their delicious bread. By
the way, Fernando is aware I'm a Post columnist.
As I sat, I noticed
something odd happening at the bar. The female bartender was pouring wine
through what appeared to be a coffee filter into a carafe. She was having
trouble keeping the filter in place. Fernando appeared and, laughing at her
dilemma, helped her adjust it, then took over the pouring.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
Fernando didn't reply.
"The bottle's broken," the bartender offered. "We're making sure no shards of glass get in."
I almost choked on my bread.
I figured the top of the wine bottle must have a small chip in it, so I took
a closer look. I was shocked to discover that about a third of the bottle
was completely broken off on a slant.
Fernando held on to the broken bottle as wine flowed from it, went through the filter and landed in the carafe.
he finished, he discarded the broken bottle and the filter. Then he carefully
poured the contents of the carafe into an empty wine bottle.
To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement.
"What kind of wine was that?" I asked the bartender.
"Louis Latour," she said, then noting my look of concern, added, blushing. "It was a clean break."
"How much do you charge for Louis Latour wine?" I asked.
"$8 a glass."
990 is considered a high-class restaurant, and it has high-class prices.
I wonder how many patrons would be as shocked as I was at the goings on --
and in full sight of someone they knew to be a journalist. If there was nothing
wrong with what they were doing, why didn't they deliver the broken wine
bottle to a customer's table and filter the wine directly into a glass. I
wonder how many diners would like that. Perhaps I'm too finicky. I admit
I throw food away after the expiry date. I also throw away any broken jars
or bottles -- as well as their contents.
And in a restaurant of
this calibre -- actually a restaurant of any calibre -- I think it's better
to just cut your losses and get on with it. Especially when a reporter is