Sometimes I wonder if Samba Days should be called Date Nights. Because if it weren’t for them, I don’t know if I'd ever go on a date.
To be fair, I don’t always call going out with my guy a date.
If, for instance, we’re just going to one of our regular joints for supper, is that really a date? Or is it just a night that I’m not cooking supper?
As a Sambassador, I’m pretty lucky that Samba Days kicks our life into red-lipstick gear, sometimes sending us to swanky joints.
Suddenly, when you’re sitting at a wine bar (aptly named Wine Bar), where rather than the typical bartender you have fancy shmancy chefs preparing gourmet tapas for you behind the bar, well, suddenly you are on a date! (And sort of watching Top Chef at the same time. It’s Food Network with smellevision.)
Jay and Tyler were like our personal chefs for the night. And they made certain to cater to my vegetarian requests, while also honouring my husband’s bicuspids.
Of course, Jay did warn me that he was able to turn his formerly-vegetarian girlfriend into a steak-lover. (These are the things you learn about chefs when they become your Sam Malone.)
But for anyone wondering, I still left as a vegetarian – one that now likes pickled onions – but a vegetarian nonetheless.
In fact, they pickle many things at Wine Bar (Double-entendre? Maybe.), and have an entire wall to showcase it. Everything is housemade, right down to the ketchup, and new menus are created daily, with most ingredients harvested from St. Lawrence Market right next door.
Included in our Samba Days Table for Two experience at Wine Bar were three shared signature dishes, a shared dessert and wine pairing to accompany each dish.
After perusing through the clever cork menus and after watching the chefs’ hands dance whilst creating so many other dishes, we couldn’t resist but to order a couple of extra tapas at our own cost.
Even though all dishes were paired with wine, it’s hard for a petite 5-foot girl to keep track of that much wine once consumed.
And this brings me to my disclaimer:
I am not a wine connoisseur.
I don’t pair wines with meals; I pair them with my taste buds. And my taste buds only like sweet wine. The sweeter the better.
So I was very pleased that our sommelier-like server respected my lack of respect for traditional pairings, and did her best to sophisticate my palate, while simultaneously allowing it to enjoy itself as well.
The boy, however, is clearly a wine expert, because every time the server brought him a wine (always different than mine), he would swoosh it around in the glass.
Like I said: EXPERT.
(He really is handsome though.)
Amuse bouche (A complimentary surprise for all guests)
Hers: House preserves with pickled vegetables
His: Shrimp cocktail
Roasted golden beet salad
I ate beets! I ate beets! (I never eat beets.)
Flatbreads made in house with *roasted root vegetable and Brie spread
We had to stop ourselves from licking the bowl.
(*Purée roasted root vegetables, add a combo of Brie and cream cheese to comprise about 25% of the mixture. Thanks for the recipe, Tyler.)
Hers: Potato leek soup with croutons and parsley
His: Grilled Ontario quail with butternut squash, garlic bok choy and maple cilantro compound butter
Wild mushroom polenta with shiitake, portobello, and oyster mushrooms, Toscano cheese and arugula
Move over risotto, there’s a way better dish in town. Our fav of the night.
Yukon gold fries with a homemade trio of dips: ketchup, lemon mayo, and spiced aioli
I opted to eat more ketchup than fries. The ketchup is that good.
Kahlua Crème Brule with maple walnuts
Another bowl-licker. (By the by – it’s not just crazy-talk – they have been known to offer peanut butter Crème Brule.) Also, I chose for a flight of ice wines to accompany this one, instead of the recommended flight of Porto. And let me just say, wa-wa-wee-wah!
So if you want exceptionally quick service – even the servers couldn’t believe how quickly the chefs got their orders up – along with delicious high-quality food paired with a unique experience, you too can choose Wine Bar with a Samba Days Table for Two package. Or choose one of the many other dining experiences they offer.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried several Samba Days gifts, and have given several as wedding gifts to friends, consistently proving that Samba Days only partners with superb establishments. You absolutely cannot go wrong.
And remember, swoosh that wine around and everyone will think you’re an expert.