Barcelona Tavern YYZ
Barcelona Tavern is a two-level restaurant and bar now in Toronto that actually has origins in Calgary.
The Mediterranean-inspired menu is loosely based on the concept of Spanish sharing-style tapas, but instead of jamon and manchego you might get hefty full appies like ribs and lobster ravioli.
Downstairs is a more intimate affair with a capacity of 36, a six-seat bar facing an open kitchen, a wall of doors imported from Barcelona and two TVs.
Upstairs, the “Cava Room,” is more party central with seven TVs and windows and a roof that open completely to the sky. A dumbwaiter the staff have nicknamed Francesca transports orders between the restaurant’s levels.
Veal Bomba ($15) come from the “Tapas” section of the menu, two gigantic meatballs stuffed with a little mozzarella and goat cheese and smothered in San Marzano tomato sauce, topped with crispy basil. $15 for two meatballs seems like taking the idea of tapas, typically free with drinks in Spanish bars, and running with it a little far.
Lobster ravioli ($15) is the same price but makes more sense to me given it’s lobster and house-made pasta. With rich butternut squash puree, chardonnay cream and tarragon olive oil this dish still seems more like a small plate than tapas to me, but the lobster is sweet, the pasta is well made and the sauce is indulgent.
Paella ($26 for a single serving) comes from the “Chef’s Corner” section of the menu, and though it’s a signature dish this seafood and chorizo version doesn’t quite measure up to the real deal. The rice feels overly spiced to me and the seafood is just the tiniest tad chewy, though they have achieved the proper crunchy bottom.
The Big Smoke Old Fashioned ($14.75) competes with more zanily named cocktails like Vegas Water, Giggle Juice, and Slush Fund, though it is created with party trick theatrics.
The glass is smoked upside down on cedar, Bulleit poured in carefully over an ice cube, burnt orange zest for a garnish.
A Strawberry Gin Smash ($11.75) is far more fruity, a thick layer of fresh strawberry to get through, though it is nicely tart with cucumber, lemon, and ginger beer.
Overall this seems like more of a place to watch the game and empty a couple Slush Funds, the staff fully outfitted in hockey jerseys in honour of the Leafs on at full volume. The menu (50% alcohol) has other sections with titles such as “3.14 = Pie” (pizza) and “Rise & Dine in Barcelona” (brunch).
If you’re just looking for a fun-loving spot where you can unwind at an upper-level bar, this is could be a good place to hit up.