797 College Street
Toronto, ON M6G 1C6
Bar Isabel is a Spanish tapas restaurant/bar located on College St near Ossington. Considered the #8 restaurant in Canada 2015 in Canada's Top 100 Restaurants, the restaurant already has quite the reputation. The place itself is a dimly lit elongated room with quite a few tables and a giant bar behind stained glass at the entrance.
The food here all looks pretty enticing. The menu is rather small for the food but several pages of drinks shows where they like to focus. The prices are a bit high for tapas, but the dishes looked to be high quality based strictly on the eye test of other tables.
We started with bread and a Cured Meat Board ($16), which consisted mainly of various slices and cuts of pork. I couldn't quite hear what our server was saying, but the meat slices were so good as was the sausage! We also had the Beef Tartare, Yoghurt, and Chicharron ($16), which was beef tartare sitting atop a giant piece of fried pork skin with a thin layer of yogurt below. The beef tartare was decently seasoned while the combination of it with the chicharron was real good.
The Roast Bone Marrow ($16) was also good, while a bit on the fatty side. It does come with bread, which is a necessity, and all that meat jelly soaked into the bread so well. My friend loved it so much that she was licking that bone clean before the server took it away. The Poached Lobster ($36) was a daily special and it was my favorite dish of the night. Nice chunks of poached buttered lobster that was chilled and served on the shell with chunks of sweet potato. So damn good.
I really wanted a full Sea Bream ceviche (mainly for the photo opp and presentation), but the BC Halibut Ceviche ($34) will suffice. Served already chopped and served on a giant chip, the ceviche was done quite nicely with a focus on the acids of the citruses and light hints of mint and tomatoes.The Half Octopus (about $34) isn't quite the sight that the whole octopus is, but it was definitely filling enough. About 4 tentacles on the dish, the octopus was not chewy and was rather tender and had the texture of a nice steak.
Ended the night with the basque cake and sherry cream ($9), which was incredible. One of the best dishes of the night as well. The basque cake comes with a crunchy exterior and a warm soft interior. The server comes with the cake naked and then drenches it in a sherry cream that tastes like thin condensed milk infused with sherry wine. Should have gotten two of those.
Expectations were a bit high and though I thought it could have been better, I still really enjoyed the food. Service was great. The place itself is a perfect little spot for drinks or a small date. Definitely worth coming to at least once. Come with a group though so you can try multiple dishes.
Ambience: B+ | Service: B+ | Price: B- | Food: B