Name: Barsa Taberna
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence Market
Contact Info: 26 Market St., 647-341-3642, @BarsaTaberna, barsataberna.com
Owner: Aras Azadian
Chef: Michael Smith, formerly the chef de cuisine at C5 in the ROM
The Food: At heart a tapas restaurant, Barsa’s menu is divided into “cold,” “hot” and “fried” dishes, while several larger plates are also available for diners who prefer not to share. Spanish staples like patatas bravas (i.e. fried potatoes with aioli) complement some of chef Michael Smith’s own, not-strictly-Spanish creations, like grilled octopus with Indian-spiced chickpea stew, or a Korean-style torta stuffed with kimchi.
The Drinks: Barsa’s signature sangria includes a unique blend of liquors, syrups and house-macerated fruits.
The Place: The 170-year-old heritage building is a part of the Market Street revitalization, which has brought a raft of new restaurants to the western side of St. Lawrence Market. Barsa’s interior takes a cue from Gaudi and Picasso’s Barcelona: the grotto-style dining room has a slightly subterranean feel, with original stone brickwork and heavy wooden beams overhead, and a kaleidoscopic mosaic wall contains fragments from 1400 variously tinted wine bottles. The 75-seat patio will be opening early this summer.