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  From the
  Odd doings behind the bar
m I being overly finicky? I don't think so
  Sharon Dunn,
National Post

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 stars.

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.

Then 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.

When 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."

Bistro 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 watching.

  Last update: May 6, 2009
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