Warm, expert service matches the confident, Spanish-Mediterranean fare coming from Curt Martin’s kitchen at this fantastic Harbord street institution, where an open concept room and boisterous clientele eliminate the possibility of Toronto stuffiness setting in. The menu is flexible, small dishes for those who like to share and larger portions for those who like traditional dining.
Beef heart tartare finely diced with espelette mayo, green olive relish, cured duck yolk, crispy tendon, Banyuls vinegar – $12 is expertly seasoned and utterly perfect. Paper-thin slices of raw west coast scallops decorated with Serrano pepper, toasted corn, pomelo, tomato salt, and evoo $13 is both acidic and buttery with a bite of heat on the finish. The next dish reads like this: house cured chorizo, tomato, anchovy, olive, pecorino and crispy pig skin $15 – what comes to mind? I was thinking a charcuterie platter, but it’s actually a thin crust pizza, slightly charred, smoky and balanced.
Next, house bread with salty cheese crackers, creamy chickpea za’atar and peppery bomba $4 arrive along with an order of plump warm olives and salted marcona almonds $5. To drink it’s SOA: a super strong cocktail made using Los Arangos Reposado Tequila, a luscious wild berry and balsamic shrub with fresh lime and ginger beer.
European sea bass, the daily fish, is a highlight reel of a Mediterranean market: slivers of radish, crunchy celery and dill served over a silky tomato gazpacho. A last minute order of summer succotash proves is a good idea, warm sweet sagamite cornbread, fresh corn and herbs. For dessert, a small selection of ice creams and fruit sorbets alongside rich slow cooked chocolate cheesecake.