Baro is a rebranding of Valdez, now located across the street on King West but still headed by chef Steven Gonzalez. The focus is still on latin food, but with a lively bar atmosphere that includes a speakeasy on one floor and an expanded list of ostentatious cocktails.
Order flights of ceviche and hot plates of picada for nibbling or visit the raw bar in this towering four-storey half dining, half party establishment with a rooftop patio.
The whole place has a speakeasy vibe with a neon sign outside and tons of copper and warm wood tones inside. There’s an elevator for transport between floors.
We start with the ceviche nikkei ($25). This one is made of hamachi (yellowtail) swimming in a mixture of ponzu, lime, tofu, and bursting edamame, topped off with radish, nori, green onion, spicy chili and crispy lotus root chips.
A hot plate of picada is a combo of deep fried Colombian style empanadas stuffed with beef, peas and potato and served with mild, tangy hot sauce ($7) and chorizo and arepitas ($12). The chorizo is ground pork seasoned with spices, chimichurri, and salt.
The duck chaufa ($35) is egg fried rice made with melty duck confit and finished with Gonzalez’ papi kung fu sauce for a final hit of umami.
Dessert sees gluten-free shortbread cookies sandwich dulce de leche with some toasted coconut to up the crumbly factor even further.
For drinks, the signature Baro Sour ($15) is made with two kinds of pisco, Chilean and Peruvian. They basically threw the kitchen sink at it, passionfruit, guava, raspberry blossom honey, ginger, lime, house vanilla almond bitters and a stiff egg white topping with the Baro logo stenciled in. It’s not like it tastes like it has two ingredients, but it’s yummy.
The Madremonte ($13) has a deceptive gin and soda base enhanced by lemon, basil and jungle honey, garnished with green grapes for a refreshing and boozy burst.
The Five Flower ($15) features an edible petal garnish floating on top of a stiff guanabana foam, with a vodka base that soaks up all the lovely flavours of mango offset by violet, as well as wildflower honey and lemon.
Seating is low and loungey with an almost resort or cabana feel, helped along by jungly plants draped all around the walls. As you ascend through the floors, the lighting and decor become more or less industrial.