Toronto wine bar Paris Paris on a budget budget

Our two intrepid foodies went for a date night that won’t break the bank

­We boldly arrive at Paris Paris sans reso on a Saturday eve. We brace ourselves for a wait, but lo — there are two seats just for us at the bar. Everyone’s probably still lounging in Trinity Bellwoods. Tonight we dine on $100 even, with tax and tip included.

A hipster haven
Located in the heart of Hipsterville (a.k.a. DuWest), this wine-and-snack bar comes to us from Jonathan Poon. His Bar Fancy chicken and Superpoint slices have already wooed the west end, so Paris Paris was destined to be well received before ever pouring its first glass of celebratory Benjamin Bridge sparkling. (The esoteric wine list — put together by Krista Oben of Grape Witches  — focuses on naturally produced and biodynamic bottles.)

Selecting the food and bevvies
Here, there’s no skipping out on vino. We’re tempted by the Whispering Angel rosé and the Bret Brothers Chardonnay. However, at $9 a glass, the house white (a crisp Vinho Verde) fits the budget.

The menu grabs at influences from all over the map: jumping from Northeast Asian (stuffed crab claw) to Middle Eastern (eggplant flatbread) to Portuguese chicken. Poon, who we run into on the street after, says that the thread that pulls the menu together is that these are all the dishes he just loves to eat.

Plates for sharing
Bread is scarfed down first. It’s the epitome of what sourdough should be: A crusty, seed-laced exterior that gives way to a chewy, tangy interior.

Left with $52, we decide that a) dessert is necessary and b) that roast chicken seems like it’ll stretch out our cash nicely. Fried smelts and a snow crab claw pad out the order.

The snow crab arrives first. The deep-fried ball, adorned by a protruding pincer, is stuffed with a mix of shrimp and scallop mousse. Then come the ramp-dusted smelts. The savoury portion of the meal closes with tongue-searing piri piri chicken –– moist with crisp skin in a chili laced oil that begs for starch to sop it up.

The grand finale
Full, but not to bursting, it’s time for dessert. When a sparkler-garnished plate is dropped in front of us, Karolyne looks confused. Before spouting that it’s not her birthday, it clicks: This is the Cherry Bombe we ordered. Dusted with pop rocks and stuffed with amarena cherries, the millennial pink dessert is a huge hit.

BREAD AND BUTTER          $5
FRIED CRAB CLAW             $8
SMELTS                               $14
CHERRY BOMBE                $9​

HST                                     $9.36
TIP                                       $14.64
TOTAL                                 $96.00

Paris Paris, 1161 Dundas St. W., 416-535-5656

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