Torontonicity was invited to a private visit to meet the new residents of 828 Bloor Street West, Praise Bottle Shop. The cozy bar, located in the heart of Bloorcourt Village, is also home to the Gargoyle Wine Club crew who offer members a monthly selection of wines not available at the LCBO.
The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the Praise space is just how small and intimate it feels. The type of environment that invites you to reflect upon how great it feels to reconnect with people, while sipping on a delicious newly-discovered wine. Owners Scott Zebarth and Will Predhomme want you to feel comfortable and safe while at Praise, so although capacity limits have been lifted for restaurants this past month, they will not be increasing their visitor numbers at this time.
While at Praise, I had a chance to sit and chat with co-owner Scott in the small speakeasy space they created in the back lower level. He started by asking what sort of wine I enjoy, and upon hearing my love of funkier flavours, he smiled and immediately knew what to grab. I was introduced to a Georgian dry white with a lovely floral finish, and gorgeous pale turmeric colouring: Baia’s Wine, Tsitska-Tsolikouri. It was spot on, and absolutely delicious!
The Gargoyle team of sommeliers has taken careful care and consideration in selecting the wines that are available at the brick and mortar space. Instead of having visitors feel overwhelmed by too many bottle options, they keep only 30 bottles at the location. The point isn’t to pretentiously present you with a multitude of obscure producers or vineyards. Instead, they want to engage you in conversation, help you make a selection, and welcome you back to try something else and unexpected next time.
The Gargoyle subscription program introduces members to new wines at four different price points, with the selection changing each month. You can check out their prices by visiting their Wine Club page, where you can also learn about the collaboration they have with Water.org: every bottle you receive from Gargoyle and Praise gives one person a full year of safe, clean water. So by visiting Praise and drinking well, you’re also doing good for humanity.
Aside from great wines and a great cause, Praise works with Chef Doug Penfold formerly of Chabrol and Cava, to create a small menu of low-touch snacks to enjoy. (Low-touch is an important feature during this return to life pre-pandemic where we still need to be careful.) Items offered included mushroom, bacon and squash tartine, black truffle chips, Sicilian olives and other delicious treats. This might seem like a small selection (currently only seven items on the snack menu), but that’s because 828 Bloor St. W. doesn’t have a kitchen space. Doug works in approximately two meters of countertop with a couple of appliances, and that’s it.
Another great feature of Praise is that the intimate speakeasy space can be booked for a group of up to ten people, allowing for a lovely get-together to explore wines as a small group. So if you’re looking for a space to safely and comfortably enjoy an evening out during these upcoming autumn weekends, make sure to check out Praise Bottle Shop. Let us know what wines you discover during your visit to Praise; comment down below, or on Instagram.
You might be interested in reading, “Drake Invests in New Dave’s Hot Chicken in Leslieville“.