New “Grapes & Soda” Wine Bar Gets Set For Opening Next To Farmer’s Apprentice

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Dara Young and chef David Gunawan’s highly anticipated (and hugely overdue) Grapes & Soda wine bar – located right next to their award-winning Farmer’s Apprentice in South Granville – is nearly finished and awaiting its final inspection. If all goes well, the 25 seater will host friends and family for a soft opening this Friday night and then for real on Saturday night. Here’s the skinny on it from a year ago, in case you’ve forgotten…

If it’s half as good as Farmer’s Apprentice (which is to say still pretty darn good), it’ll be a significant gain for the neighbourhood. I trust that it’ll be as good, so congratulations to all who work or live nearby. I took a look at the construction site yesterday with Gunawan and Evan Creedon of Milltown Contracting. They’ve got plenty of reclaimed wood to play with (similar to Farmer’s Apprentice), a short bar, and a long banquette […] Save for a few possible delay points, it appeared to be a pretty straightforward build from here on out. It should be ready – if nothing goes awry – by early/mid-summer.

Clearly, things went awry. Strata navigation and other unforeseen issues set them back almost 10 months. A bummer, to be sure. But everything’s back on track now, and looking good. The space is smaller than Farmer’s Apprentice, but the two are aesthetically similar with a long, thin orientation and plenty of sharp right angles juxtaposed by well-worn surfaces, wood grain, and antique details.

But the thing to be most excited about is the food and drink. As originally envisioned last year, Grapes & Soda will be pairing six to eight glasses of natural wine with six to eight small-ish, seasonally determined dishes each night, in addition to selections of cheese and charcuterie (the latter from D’Original). I saw a draft menu yesterday, but it won’t be the same this weekend so I won’t bother describing it. As per Gunawan’s modus operandi, the food will constantly change based on what suppliers bring to the door.

The interesting thing to note is that the wines will be informing the dishes, and not the other way around. And the chef meeting that tall challenge will be none other than Ron Shaw, formerly the executive chef at Bishop’s. Shaw is a master of improvisation with local ingredients, so the hiring gels well with the concept. Bar manager Satoshi Yonemori, who many will recognise from his lengthy tenure at Wildebeest, is an equally fine acquisition. Hours will be 5:30pm to 11pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Cross your fingers for the final inspection.

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