Tag Archives: tapas

PATIO LIT EATS: Funky Japanese tapas & beers in Little Portland

Just when you thought patio season was over, they pull you back in with a mini heatwave sending temperatures up to 24 degrees at the start of October, son! So, we’re hanging out in Little Portland, around Dundas and Ossington, where some of the most popular patios are already packed — but they still had several tables available at Bar Shozan, this funky little Japanese joint. You can get sushi and ramen here, but for 10 bucks a pop, they’ve also got some real-deal izakaya-style bar food…dude, this is body by izakaya-style bar food!!!!

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These shrimp ‘n corn skewers are coming in hot, bro! These seafood lollipops in Flavourtown pop with nice bites of shrimp and little kernels of corn. Pretty sure I could slam, like, 10 of these…I just need to wait for them to cool down first!!!!

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Speaking of skewers, this pork belly yakiton is too legit to quit! Pork is fork-tender, with a nice, tangy miso sauce and one green onion for that serving of veggies. This was probably my favourite dish, right here…

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Now, when I saw they had wings on the menu, I couldn’t NOT order them, bro! These Tebasaki wings were nice ‘n crispy, a little sweet, with just a bit of a kick at the end. Oh, and there was enough green onions on this plate to feed Booker T and the MGs!!!!

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Now, this place is serving up all three main Japanese beers — Sapporo, Asahi AND Kirin — as well as five different beers from Far Yeast Brewing, including a couple I’ve never even seen before. But I stayed in Toronto with an Otsukaresama from our local Japanese-influences craft brewers at Godspeed. Despite its name, which apparently means something like “good job” (I speak the third most Japanese in the Triple B Posse, bro!), this is actually a German-style lager, with hops and malt straight outta Dortmund. And it goes great with some wings and pork skewers… Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!!!!

Seven Spanish Mushrooms @ Bar Isabel

Now, we’re not really big on tapas here on Triple B — gimme large plates over small plates any day, bro! But a couple years back, we checked out this funky little Spanish joint on College St called Bar Isabel, where I had a Spanish beer that was made with sea water. Oh, and some of those small plates weren’t too bad, either.

Anyhoo, this place is still in business, with a righteous craft beer list, and while most of the food I ordered last time isn’t even on the menu anymore, you still can’t go wrong with some brave potatoes, bros!

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These patatas bravas are coming straight outta Barcelona, all smothered in donkey sauce! I think these were meant for sharing, but the last time I shared food, the other guy went hungry, so, y’know…

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We’re doubling down in Flavourtown with some grilled mushrooms, bro! These kinda remind me of the shrooms we scarfed down at Beach Club… only these bad boys were ever tastier!!!

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What, after eating gluten-free last time, you didn’t think we would go vegan on ya, brah? This meat & cheese plate comes complete with Mountain Oak & Manchego cheese, alongside several slices of chorizo and salchichon. You could put that on a flip-flop — or some sourdough bread — and it would still taste good!!!

Oh, and that beer (served in a wine glass cuz they fancy) is an Orange Whisper from Small Pony Barrelworks. It’s sour ‘n tangy, but don’t let the name fool ya — no oranges were harmed in the making of this brewski…

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Now, you KNOW we’re always down for dinner and a show — like this Basque cake with hot sherry cream that they pour at the table. Dude, Hot Sherry Cream was the name of my Foreigner cover band, bro!!!!

The most interesting ham in the world…

Now, right before all restaurants in Toronto shut down for indoor dining again, we headed out to Madrina Bar y Tapas, this funky Spanish joint in the Distillery District. I don’t always eat tapas, but I heard that this place was serving up some high-end ham, like Joselito Gran Reserva, which even comes with its own identity card, so you know it’s gotta be legit…

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Suffice to say, it also comes with a hefty price tag — 42 bucks a plate — but dude, I am trying to keep Toronto restaurants in business, even if I gotta do it all by myself…and I was pretty intrigued to try it, anyways.

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Now, to call this ham would be like calling Pliny the Elder beer. It’s more like a fine-aged, cured Italian meat — like a nice prosciutto, or something. Man, this would be amazeballs on a thin-crust pizza, bro! But it’s still pretty excellent on its own, although I couldda used some bread, or some cheese to go with it. Bread and cheese sold separately…

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Of course, you KNOW I can’t go to a tapas joint and only order one thing, bro! And since one good ham deserves another, I’m about to go ham on these Iberian ham croquettes. These bad boys are super hot and crispy, straight outta the deep-fryer, with a nice creamy centre and some little bits of meat. I don’t think they’re stuffed with Joselito Gran Reserva, though…

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Now, I’ve had patatas bravas before, but these aren’t your ordinary brave potatoes, bro! They serve ’em up millefeuille style, topped with great big globs of sriracha brava and wasabi donkey sauce — shut the front, back and side doors!

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And because two good potatoes deserve more potatoes, I ordered up a Spanish potato omelette, topped with even more donkey sauce, onions, and a chili oil caviar. Dude, this dish is potatoes…and potatoes is good!!!

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But we’re saving the most funkalicious for last, with this pair of crispy calamari sammies with pickled peppers, all covered in squid ink. Dude, I got so much squid ink on my face eating these that you couldn’t even see the bleach in my soul patch, son! But this was definitely one of the top five squid ink calamari dishes I’ve ever had!!!

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But you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, and we’re funking it up another notch with this Manchego cheesecake, topped with raspberry sorbet. This dish is more cheese than cake, with a sugary coating that’s like Babybel Gone Wild, bro! Definitely one of the most outta bounds desserts I’ve had this year…

…I just hope they can find a way to stay open after this month, though. 😦

Smashing Spanish tapas @ Bar Isabel

Now, I’m not really the biggest fan of tapas — if I gotta share food, it means that someone else isn’t getting very much. Flavourtown is all about survival of the fattest, bro! But I heard there’s this funky little joint on College with some crazy craft beers and a solid selection of seafood, chorizo and potatoes…which are a few of my favourite things, so you know I had to check it out! Bienvenidos a Bar Isabel!!!

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So, we’re starting out with some mussels from, well, probably not Brussels, but Barcelona, I guess? One thing I know is that these mussels escabeche are pretty Van Damme delicious! It’s a dish served cold, with a tangy sauce, and some little onions and peppers for that extra roundhouse kick!!!

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Now, if you’re serving up a dish that translates to brave potatoes, then you KNOW I’m gonna hafta take the plunge. These patatas bravas are coming in hot out of the oven, smothered in sour cream and hot sauce, and topped with green onions and cilantro. I could eat this all day, bro — but I still gotta save room for chorizo!

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These snack-sized sausages were pretty much on point. Cooked to the right temperature, with a bit of sweet, a bit of heat, and that good ol’ garlicky aftertaste that’s like a breath mint in Flavourtown. This is one sausagefest you don’t wanna miss!!!

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Of course, when it comes to this Spanish feast, I’m skipping right past the vino and heading straight to the craft beer, bro! This ice cold bottle of Er Boqueron is imported from Spain, and brewed with Mediterranean sea water for a crisp, refreshing taste. This is one cerveza that makes that joke about having sex in a canoe seem like not such a bad thing after all…

 

Hot N Cold Portuguese tapas @ Chiado

Now, when you think tapas, you’re probably thinking Spain, or maybe Japan, but did you know they’ve also got small plates in Portugal? Well, at least they do in Little Portugal, bro! We’re hanging out at Chiado, this fancy Portuguese place on College, just west of Ossington. They’ve actually got a full-fledged tapas menu here, but if you wanna classy it up, you can make a reservation in the dining room, and order a lot of the same stuff as appetizers. You will hafta leave your trucker hat at home though, bro!!!!

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Dude, these clams are clam-tastic! You’ve got a bowlful of steamed babies, with garlic, coriander and a white wine/olive oil broth that goes great with the bread basket, bro!

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This was some of the fanciest smoked salmon I’ve seen, served up pinwheel-style with onions, capers and a hard-boiled quail egg!!!

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Now, I don’t always go for goat cheese, but since they insisted, I couldn’t resist it. This toasty goatsy is served on a bed of eggplant and portabellas, with a champagne supernova vinaigrette!

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Now, I’m a sucker for some great grilled squid, whether it’s battered and fried Greek style, or done up all Japaneezy. At this place, they cook it with coriander, lemon, garlic and a little extra virgin olive oil, for that extra kick!

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Now here’s a funky dish you definitely don’t see every day! You may have had beef carpaccio before, but do you even know fish carpaccio, bro? This thinly sliced raw grouper is served up with white asparagus, pine nuts and a little preserved citrus adding just a touch of zestiness.

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And now we’re getting into the funky portion of this evening’s performance, with some grilled piri piri quail served on top of a shiitake mushroom risotto. Tastes just like chicken!

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Now, I’m not sure if this shot gives you any sense of just how massive these tiger shrimp are, but I gotta tell ya, they’re pretty freakin’ yuuuge. They’ve also gotta be some of the plumpest, tenderest, tastiest crustaceans I’ve ever stuffed my face in. I could probably slam seven or eight of these…if they weren’t 38 bucks an order!

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And finally, you’ve got the special du jour, a creamy tuna tartar with chunks of avocado, onion and I forget what that yellow stuff is. Dude, this is like a culinary hockey puck of awesomeness in Flavourtown. He shoots, he scores, bro!!!

Now, in case you were wondering, I did NOT eat all eight of these amazing apps alone…I might have had just a little help from my friends. But, on the plus side, at least I saved some room for dessert:

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Dude, this chocolate mousse is totally scattered, smothered and covered with tons of tasty toppings! You’ve got walls of milk and white chocolate, three kinds of berries, a couple different sauces for swiping…and then there’s these little lemon meringue kisses on top. And you know this plate ain’t clean until I lick it up, lick it up, whoa-oh-oh!!!!