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May 30, 2014 09:43 PM

barsa taberna- has anyone been?

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  1. Quality menu. Place looks dressed for success.

    9 Replies
    1. re: chowfinder

      But not for fine dining!

      Also, the chefs background doesn't really inspire - even if we believe the C5 blurb - he's not listed on their (former) back of house list despite, apparently, "getting it named one of the ten best in Toronto" .
      However, as always, let's wait and see what the food is like. It's probably better than the wine list (which is lacking wines that fit with their 'food concept').

      1. re: estufarian

        Barsa - went for late lunch - really great looking room, very friendly staff, but I was expecting a tapas bar as you'd find in Spain, i.e. a range of small dishes served at the bar, including the really basic classics such as garlic prawns, tortilla, (I don't have to tell Chowhounders the difference between Spanish and Mexican), great haunches of Serrano ham carved on the spot. But no. They only offer "tapas" as one menu item. Basically a plate of olives, pickles, chacuterie. You could assemble it from the market for half the price.
        My friend had the burger and fries, the fries were overcooked and limp. I had a weird broccoli cauliflower salad on some kind of soggy grain, I couldn't finish - it was just such a bizarre and altogether unappetizing concoction.
        This place is best approached as a wine bar, or a club, after you have dined elsewhere. I suspect that it is really LOUD when crowded. Some staff members are rude and clumsy (pushing past me instead of allowing me to return to my table). Bonus points - toilets are on the ground floor.
        But I won't be back. If you want to try it, I suggest you sit at the bar and ask for an example of the chef's best tapa. That will limit your expense, and, if you are a fan of true tapas bars, will let you know if this is the place for you.
        EDIT - Just noticed this post form the owner:
        "Tapas are not supposed to be $13 and $14. You're supposed to order two or three plates each, and share. It's just ridiculous." On Barsa's tapas menu, everything will range in price from $6 to $9.
        The lowest thing on the menu is $9 and up to the sky from there. This is not a Tapas bar at all, apart from its d├ęcor. But no napkins and toothpicks all over the floor as would be the case in a tapas bar - but after all we are not in Barcelona, so I give them a pass on the ambience.

        1. re: KitchenVoodoo

          Read your review KV. Limp AND overcooked fries is a nasty combination not easy to attain when making fries properly. I hope the fryer was broken that night ; )

          I agree it is fair to compare this restaurant to one in Barcelona, as they have set us up for that expectation, but I can't imagine why you thought it was going to be the same small inexpensive plates found at a great bar in Spain? One look at the menu and it is apparent that they are not attempting to be that. When I first looked at the menu I was disappointed but quickly realized it wasn't going to be a bar with small cheap plates. So what will it be I wondered? I hoped it would be great food with wonderful combinations so that the pricing would make sense. Now with your review of the food, I will surely wait on the sidelines for more entries.

          1. re: KitchenVoodoo

            " But no napkins and toothpicks all over the floor as would be the case in a tapas bar"

            Nonsense. You never see that in Barcelona. It is strictly Madrid behavior.

          2. re: estufarian

            I hadn't read about the people behind Barsa but simply remarked on the menu. Now I've quickly sifted through their list of concept shops. I must say that back in the day Chambar was the place to eat. Fortes always had awesome seafood - the tower was ridiculous. Meat & Bread - fantastic. And then there are the places we know in Toronto. Verdict remains to be seen.

            1. re: estufarian

              The Fifteen Group is a consulting company, they come in and help set up concepts, develop menus, put in management & staff procedures, etc. They usually only help during the initial start-up and do NOT have an ownership stake in these places. So the other restaurants on that website are just like a POS company listing their clients - just because you use the same POS as Bar Isabel does not mean that your restaurant has anything to do with theirs...

              1. re: pourboi

                I don't think that "they come in and help set up concepts, develop menus, put in management & staff procedures, etc." is comparable to setting up a POS.
                It may be comparable to, say, setting up a hotel, but a POS is 'more same' whether it's a restaurant or a dress store.

                So the argument as stated doesn't follow
                However, if the 'menus, management and procedures' are the concept of Fifteen Group, and they had set up the same things for Bar Isabel (I'm assuming they had nothing to do with Bar Isabel - but you selected this example), then I would think it a fair comparison (or at least comment).

                1. re: estufarian

                  My point is that comparing Barsa to the other restaurants on Fifteens list does not make sense it is not part of a chain or a restaurant group like Sir Corp where they is corporate oversight to continually make sure everything is run well and quality is consistent.

                  Fifteen is a company that came in for a few months at the planning and start up stage then left... After that the owners and chef have free reign. Some may continue to follow what the consultants suggested others may not. Fifteen group are consultants that means they will basically work for anyone who will pay them one day it could be fine dining the next day it could be a night club and then a fast food chain... In some cases they may only consult on financial procedures and in others they may do everything from concept to execution.

                  The only thing that you can insinuate from them hiring consultants is that the have money behind them and they are not cocky that they think the know it all themselves!

                  1. re: pourboi

                    That's fair comment (whether I agree or not).

                    But the examples you used in the earlier comment were just not relevant (particularly the references to POS and Bar Isabel).

                    I would challenge this post on the basis that the owners (of Barsa) presumably based their hiring of Fifteen Group on some perceived value. I do not know what services were provided, and can't judge their value.

                    I do perceive a lack of fine dining in their published list of clients - but maybe fine dining proprietors don't have the resources to hire consultants.

          3. Utterly mediocre. Nice space and great location by the market, but was totally disappointed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: highlyunlikely

              What did you eat? I know that cauliflower is supposed to be the new hip vegetable, toppling kale from its position, but the cauliflower salad I had was .... unappetising to say the least. It was like something you would be served in some vegan cave dwellers co-op cafeteria. The chef seems to have gone with the trend without understanding the vegetable. He/She could have done much better with a cauliflower cheese using Spanish cheeses, lots of garlic and parsley, Tabasco, and toasted breadcrumbs with a little chopped marcona almonds on top for luxury.
              I was unimpressed by the menu, the food, the number of staff standing/hanging around yet not actually engaged in any acts of hospitality... I give this place 6 months.