Barsa Taberna is a fairly new restaurant in the St. Lawrence Market area that offers traditional Spanish-style tapas with a modern influence of global flavours. Barsa aims to capture the essence of Barcelona by creating a social dining experience reflective of Spanish-inspired food, design and culture.
The space was designed by John Tong and his work adapts the culture of Barcelona while still paying homage to Toronto. In fact the building itself is a 170 year old restored heritage building that has kept most of it's identity of early Toronto. The original stonework and wooden beams are surrounded by Gaudi and Picasso inspired design, mosaic floors and a montage of hand-cut wine bottles that make up the main wall.
I attended a launch party at Barsa a few months ago and the space was bustling with people, Flamenco guitarist performances, Spanish-inspired design, endless sangria and delicious tapas all of which added to the aura of a Cantalonian vibe. After a few drinks you may even think you're in a different city...
Of course I started the night off with a lot of sangria! Barsa has three main types of sangria, a Blanco (chardonnay, calvados apple liquor, green apples, grapes, macerated cantaloupes), Rojo (rarnese montepulciano, brandy peach liquor, red wine orange macerated strawberries) and Rosada (rose vino, brandy, pama liquor, raspberry syrup, cucumbers, blackberries macerated watermelon). The Rojo was my favourite of the three, but I can't complain about any of them. All were flavourful, well-balanced and full of house-macerated fruits. If you're not a huge sangria fan the long and impressive wine list will definitely entice you or perhaps a pint of the beer of Barcelona, Estrella Damm.
Now on to the food. The menu is divided into cold, hot and fried tapas. There are also larger plates for sharing and a pastry menu. There are many traditional Spanish tapas such as the pan con tomate ($7), or the patatas bravas ($7). There are also some tapas with a multicultural twist such as the grilled octopus with channa masala ($12) or the pok pok prawns with pineapple glaze ($11).
Some of the dishes at Barsa:
Chorizo Tasting - 4 types, house made, garnishes - $22
Idiazabal Cheese Bocadillo - sherry marmalade, green olive tapenade - $10
Grilled Octopus - channa masala, tamarind water, papadum - $12
Braised Beef Short Rib - piquillo, sugar snap peas, collards, orange - $13
Serrano Ham - fermin serrano, pickled green beans, pommery mustard - $9
Sangria Cake - coconut tres leche, compressed fruit mango sherbert - $9
(these were just sample sizes)
Barsa Taberna is a great addition to the Market Street strip and is open for after work pinchos, dinner and weekend brunch!