Toronto, ON M6J 2J3
Grant van Gameren and Robin Goodfellow, of the superb Bar Isabel, opened Raval to mimic the tapas bars of Barcelona. Its look is pure Gaudi, mahogany carved into great swooping curves and cutouts, a triumph of gorgeous whimsy. It’s a bar. You stand. No cutlery save for a tiny fork, mostly finger food — pintxos — small bites either speared on toothpicks or on great bread. Grant is a pickle addict. His crunchy dills and chile-pickled guindilla peppers, jazz spears of melt-in-the-mouth tuna confit. Lightly pickled tender white anchovies play nicely with marinated red peppers on bread. Small clams which are canned as soon as they’re harvested in Spain are the best thing I’ve ever had from a can. Similarly charming and delightful are small chunks of grilled octopus. Raval is open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Go for breakfast. Grant’s fresh flaky dulce de leche doughnuts are the sexiest carbs in town. Pintxos like morcilla sausage topped with a fried quail egg make bacon ‘n’ eggs seem antique. Be Catalan!
Review by Joanne Kates, published May 2016