St Lawrence Market’s new restaurant-row has been revitalized with Market Street and its newly opened eateries including Barsa Taberna, a Spanish restaurant in Toronto’s core.
The small and cozy Spanish restaurant with seating for up to 85 took over an old horse barn from the Toronto Police and a wine cellar from the LCBO. Keeping with the historic buildings original look and feel, lots of original stone walls have been kept throughout, giving it a bit of a grotto feel. The open kitchen, lovely lighting and amazing mosaic of a wine bottle lighten the atmosphere, complimenting the classic feel.
Truly a tapas menu, the restaurant splits itself into three definitive sections: cold, hot and fried. For those who are looking for something a bit on the heavier side, larger plates are available.
Before diving into the menu and making any final decisions, the restaurant prides itself on its pitchers of Sangria ($20/half, $38/full) in red, white and sparkling Cava variations. Seasonal flavours are also available.
The best value for money is the Chef’s Tasting Menu (6 Dishes, $60 or 12 Dishes, $120), which your server will help cater to any dietary and allergies you may have. Some of the standouts that we encountered throughout the evening included the Grilled Octopus with Chana Masala ($12).
Next up, we were treated to the Braised Short Rib with snap peas, oranges and peppers in a reduction of dashi ($13) which was tender and served along side collard greens and Chanterelle mushrooms.
Finally, we treated ourselves to a broken down Chicken Salad ($12), both simple and wonderful.
The great thing about treating yourself to the Chef’s Tasting menu is that while many dishes are Spanish (in flavour and influence), chef Michael Smith has taken some obvious twists and turns and made this tapas bar all his own.
This restaurant is perfect for a first-date experience or if you just can’t make it to Spain yourself (or are longing to get back there).
Photos by Yuli Scheidt