Few things are as excellent on a Sunday afternoon than a leisurely brunch with some lady friends, and if said brunch just happens to take place on the day of an event like, say, the Santa Claus Parade, it might just be best to avoid downtown altogether. Enter Coquine Restaurant, a French-ish bistro on Yonge Street south of Eglinton that offers a decidedly downtown ambiance combined with great food with European flair. For ladies who lunch off the beaten track, it’s a perfect destination, and just happens to have a few VQA wines by the glass that caught our eye on a recent visit.
Coquine Restaurant is big, with a front bar area and two rooms, but it always seems to be busy. From multi-generational families to couples to groups of girlfriends, the clientele at both dinner and brunch hours is mixed, but regardless of the nature of the diners, the number certainly contributes to the overall buzzing atmosphere of the resto. The menu leans towards French bistro classics like Steak Frites and Cassoulet at dinner, and savoury crepes and quiches at brunch. When we dined there, one of our lady friends had the crepe filled with mushrooms, grilled chicken and brie, an indulgence we’ve also loved in past for its rich almost smoky flavours. This time, though, we opted for our lunch standby, the Nicoise salad, which, with two large pieces of seared tuna, a hard-boiled egg, olives, potatoes, anchovies, greens and other accompanying veg, is a great deal for $18. The simple nature of the dish also makes it great for pairing with a wine like the Hillebrand Gewurtztraminer.
This wine is a perfect mid-day sipper. Void of the food-wanting weight of Chardonnay and the piercing acidity of Riesling, Gewurtz is a fragrant grape that dances on the palate and leaves with a clean finish. The Hillebrand realization, in particular, is a soft version of Gewurtz that pairs well with seafood. The wine has a floral aroma, enhanced by notes of stone fruit and pear. On the palate, there’s a continued soft tropical fruit flavour and just a hint of characteristic spice. We’d happily pair it with oysters as are often featured at Coquine, or even with a spicier poultry dish like a stuffed chicken breast. As it was, the Hillebrand Gewurtz was a great companion for the diverse foods in Coquine’s Nicoise, and was the perfect partner for a lovely lingering ladies’ lunch.
Hillebrand Artist Series Gewurztraminer
$11/6 oz glass, LCBO 554378, $11.45
2075 Yonge St., (416) 322-6767