Chef Grant van Gameren first caught the tongues of Torontonians when he worked the kitchen at The Black Hoof. Fast-forward a few years — and a few places — and chef now has two top restaurants to claim as his own: Bar Isabel and Bar Raval. The first is a sit-down joint where folks nosh on his stunning ceviche, presented as a wholefish, and other dishes to share. Bar Raval is the new kid on the block
Still in her first year, Raval focuses on pintxos — everybody’s favourite term for skewered eats found in Barcelona’s after work bars. Van Gameren’s take on the Catalonian mainstay instantly brings Gaudi to mind thanks to a gorgeous undulating bar and woodwork that envelopes the room.
But it's the food that keeps people coming back. Open from breakfast through to the wee hours, the idea is for patrons to hop in, grab a bite, and hop out again. The lack of proper tables helps maintain the rapid pace. Munch on picks procured from the bar — dulce de leche and jamon doughnuts — or order the goods to your standing spot. Personal favourites are the scallops in uni sauce and the smoked mackerel, canned in house. Hogtown has never seen anything so cool.