This year after relaxing myself silly on Boxing Day I marched down Church Street bound for the St Lawrence Market. I’d be dining that evening with Jamie and Dale at the neighbourhoods newest hotspot Barsa Taberna, an artsy and intimate modern tapas restaurant.
Located in a 170-year-old heritage building, Barsa Taberna was originally used as a horses stable for RCMP officers. The owners have restored and celebrated the interiors origins, offering a grotto-style dining room featuring stone brickwork and heavy wooden beams.
Upon arrival guests are whisked past Barsa Taberna’s spacious bar which features a dazzling wall mosaic made up of over 1,400 tinted wine bottles. After ducking under a stone archway the party is seated in an intimate space where over 100 years ago horses munched and crunched through barrels of hay.
Chef Michael’s menu has its roots in the Spanish style of tapas (small, shared plates) while extending the concept by giving it a global spin to reflect the diversity of cultures in Toronto. The restaurant opened in May 2014 and quickly became known for its Sangria menu (a total of five varieties are served at the table in glass jugs) with offerings that pair Gerardo Chardonnay with Calvados, Montepulciano with Spanish Brandy Peach Liquor and Giro Ribot Cava with macerated mango, blueberries and raspberries.
One can also appreciate a few twists and turns on the savoury side of things. Best to start with an ode to the ocean via Sea Bream Ceviche (pecans, avocado and foie) and Pok Pok Prawns (pineapple glaze, green papaya). If you have your heart set on hearty try the mandarin miso glazed BBQ Pork Ribs which are served perched on a corn and bean papusa with house-made sauerkraut. Duck Two Ways offers an interesting dichotomy where duck leg stuffed tortellini rest in a pool of coffee infused duck broth, topped with slices of bourbon glazed duck breast. If you’re dining with a sweet tooth be sure to share the rich Hazelnut Tart and pair with a glass of sweet Sherry and solo espresso.
giro ribot cava brut, spanish brandy, mascerated mango, blueberries, raspberries
rarnese montepulciano, spanish brandy, peach liquor, strawberries, orange
Sea Bream Ceviche
pecans, tiger milk, avocado mousse, foie
Idiazabal Cheese Bocadillo
sherry marmalade, green olive tapenade
spaghetti squash, du puy lentils, spinach and piquillo relish, pickled squash, curry leaf vinaigrette, coconut
BBQ Pork Ribs
corn and bean pupusa, mandarin miso glaze, salsa verde, house-made sauerkraut
channa masala, tamarind water, papadum
Duck Two Ways
bourbon glazed duck breast, duck leg tortellini, celery root, coffee duck broth
chorizo aioli, bravas sauce
Pok Pok Prawns
pineapple glaze, green papaya
burnt cucumber aioli, carrot slaw, banyuls vinegar
hazelnut frangipane, rye chocolate tart, smoked maldon salt ice cream