[attach]6729[/attach]The day they saw a for rent sign in the window of an old warehouse, Skin + Bones Wine Bar owners Daniel Clarke and Harry Wareham were sold on where to open their neighbourhood restaurant.
“We really just came across this building on happenstance,” Wareham says, adding the Queen Street E. space near Carlaw Avenue was eerily clean for a vacant building. “I still very well remember the way that I felt the first time I saw the space and I stepped through that small door into this expansive warehouse space and that was kind of the moment myself and my business partner Daniel fell in love with the building.”
After working together more on than off for the last seven years, most recently at Pizzeria Libretto and Enoteca Sociale, they spent a year developing the concept for a place of their own.
While the goal of their wine program is to offer an interesting and varied selection of wine by the glass, which includes 40 varieties of white, red, sparkling and dessert wines, the menu by chef Matthew Sullivan is wine focused and ingredient driven.
“What he starts with first is finding a really incredible ingredient and then building a dish around that to complement what we’re doing with the wine,” Wareham says.
Prior to joining the Skin + Bones team, Sullivan had been operating a series of pop up restaurants called Boxed Toronto that both Clarke and Wareham visited.
“He’s a really credible innovative young chef,” Wareham says. “While we were working on sort of conceptualizing Skin + Bones Matthew and Daniel ran into each other at a South African wine testing, we sat down with him, attended more of his dinners and really started working from there.”
One of the most popular menu offerings is the crispy chicken tails, which is served in a warm potato salad, but Wareham says his personal favourite is currently the chicken and wine, which has slow-cooked and de-boned chicken with a rutabaga purée.
As for the name, skin is a reference to grapes and bones to animal bones, which is the start of a lot of great cooking, from stocks to soups and braises, he says.
“It’s just about wine and food,” he says. “It’s kind of really central to our philosophy, what we do here, what we want to offer here is a great wine experience, a great food experience and an incredible sense of hospitality.”
However, although they have meat and protein centric offerings, they also have vegetarian and vegan options, he says. While the menu has been utilizing the freshest and most seasonal ingredients, it will shift as more fresh vegetables become available and heavier winter entrees will make way for lighter spring and summer options, he says.
“We hope that people eat something they’ve never had before and drink something perhaps they’ve never had before and learn a little something about it,” he says. “We really hope that people when they walk away from their experience they’ve tried something a little bit different.”