Bar Isabel has been on many of my foodie friend's top restaurants in Toronto list for quite some time. And I finally had the opportunity to try it out with a friend. The waiter patiently explained their menu and the option for a customizable tasting menu ranging from $55 and up. We decided to take a leap of faith and give the kitchen free-reign over our menu. The waiter took our preferences down and helped us customize our meal. We said we were relatively adventurous eaters and my friend wanted oysters (but they didn't have them that night) and we wanted the octopus.
We didn't get oysters, but they gave us mussels that were similarity to the fresh shucked oyster experience. The mussels had that hint of tangy and sour flavour (that you would get from the lemon with oysters) and it had the fresh shucked presentation (with the ice) - A fun and playful presentation and a great spin.
Queso, Shishito peppers, pan con tomate, chorizo
I really liked the queso, the chorizo was a little too dried for my taste (but it did have a lot of flavour) and the stuffed peppers were a tad spicy for me.
Sobrasata and Fois Gras
When the waiter explained that the shredded flaky stuff on top was shaved fois gras - I was blown away. It was SO COOL in that it looked like cheese, but it melted in your mouth and you got that rich dense taste of fois gras. The toast and cured pork were great too, but I was just fascinated with the shaved fois gras which was delicious.
Tuna and Sweetbreads
This was delicious too! I loved the sweet fresh tuna and sweetbreads (thymus or pancreas). The raw tuna was slightly chilled and when paired with the warm and dense sweetbreads - it made such a good combination.
It was good, but I wished it had a bit more flavour and crispiness to it. It felt like it was too simple compared to the complex and delicious flavours of the other courses.
Shrimp and Snow Pea Leaves
I had no idea snow pea leaves were a thing. The dish was tasty, but not as outstanding as some of the other items.
Spicy cauliflower and spring salad
The salad was nice and I think it would have been really appealing to the eye, but the colours were lost on us in the red-tinted dining room.
I was pretty excited for this! It looked so good and it fully delivered because the octopus was so tender and flavourful and had a great accompaniment in the hearty bean stew.
Overall: Great experience at Bar Isabel (a little pricey at $75 pp), but the food was delicious and the service was fantastic!