Thursday, 16 January 2014

Stage Wine Bar - tasty little Fernwood bites

Stage Wine Bar is a lovely little small-plates restaurant tucked away in Fernwood (and as a foodie sidebar - this small intersection of Fernwod Road and Gladstone Avenue has some incredible noshing destinations: Ca Va, Norte, Stage....but I digress).

Stage Wine Bar on Gladstone Ave

Four of us dropped into Stage recently for dinner before a concert nearby. The inside of the restaurant is simple with high ceilings, a large bar near the front and several tables along both the long brick wall and the half kitchen wall.
Being a wine bar, there's a nice selection of wine & bubbly (menu has bottle selection; blackboards cover the glasses), cocktails (some classic, some new & some for the driver!) and beers (from local and afar). Our table sipped glasses of a local Viognier and Driftwood beer while perusing the menu.

We also received a brief explanation from the server on portion sizes and suggested number of plates per person. We were quite diplomatic about the dishes, with everyone getting a choice. In the end we ordered up six dishes - gnocchi, fries, mussels, brandade, fried octopus and a meat/cheese plate.

First up was the brandade. This was a nostalgic order - as I had this as a full-sized meal while we were in Southern France. It's a puree (with texture) of salt-fish and olive oil (but doesn't taste fishy). Stage's version comes chilled in a small mason jar, served with thin, toasted focaccia slices and radishes. Very nice, simple and tasting very much like a cold version of my French lunch.

Brandade (salt cod spread) with toasted focaccia

Next up the gnocchi - cooked, then fried and served with a grilled leeks, caramelized onions, laid on a pesto sauce and sprinkled with piave cheese. This dish was excellent - all aspects of it, the gnocchi, the leeks, everything.

Gnocchi with leeks, onions & pesto

Then came the meat & cheese plate - there's a good selection of cheeses and meats (much of it local) to choose from ($4 for each selection). Stage plates them for you with crackers, toasted bread, pickles and a condiment or two.

Meat & cheese plate with toasted breads, crackers & pickles

And some fries (a good standard for table-sharing....and allowing everyone to have the same garlic intake) - fancied up with garlic, green onions and piave cheese, served with aioli.

Fries with garlic, piave & aioli for dipping

And then the octopus - like a different take on calamari. Sliced 'coins' of octopus deep fried: simple and very tasty.

Crispy fried octopus

And finally, the mussels. Some of the best I've had. Period. These were huge, plump and juicy and prepared perfectly - in a coconut, chipotle, cilantro & ginger broth. Each of these ingredients was nicely balanced and didn't overpower the mussels (or each other). These were worth two shots - the dish itself and a close-up (avec fork for perspective). This will be the first thing we order next time we're at Stage.

Mussels in coconut, chipotle, cilantro & ginger
These mussels were huge and tender!

It was a really nice dinner at Stage - with some standout dishes that we'll be sure to order again (hello mussels! step right up Gnocchi! play it again octopus!). The mood is bustling (without being too noisy), the service is great (both friendly & knowledgeable) and the food is very good (with enough of a selection to please everyone).

I like this sharing plates...except the mussels, those babies are all mine next time.

Stage Wine Bar
1307 Gladstone Avenue
Open everyday at 5pm (Sun/Mon until 10pm, Tue-Sat until 11pm)

twitter: @stagewinebar
Facebook: Stage Wine Bar

Stage Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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