Toronto’s Bar Raval Serves Cocktails with a Barcelona-esque Atmosphere Morning, Day and Night

Foodable Network is always looking for bar concepts that offer unique beverage experiences. Bar Raval in Toronto, Canada is unlike any other.

When you walk in, you feel as though you have been transported to the Spanish resort town, San Sebastian. This is no accident, either. The name Raval is a nod to the Raval neighborhood in Barcelona.

The bar is standing-room only and was custom design by the Toronto-based architecture and design studio Partisans Projects.

The bar's structure is truly a masterpiece with gaudi-esque wood panels and rich mahogany millwork.

“Bar Raval was an opportunity for us to use advanced digital methods to reinterpret—not replicate—classical Art Nouveau tropes for the 21st century,” said Alex Josephson, Partisons co-founder, as reported by "archello."

The one-of-a-kind structure is all part of the bar experience curated by the owners.

“We wanted the space to be just like the experience — very organic,” said Robin Goodfellow, part owner of Bar Raval. “You come in, it’s like a warm hug from a tree. We’ve heard people say it looks like the inside of a tree’s heart.”

Guests are immediately wowed by the atmosphere, but what about the cocktails?

In the "Across the Bar" episode below, Goodfellow gives us a taste some of the handcrafted beverages served at Bar Raval.

Since the bar is open morning and night, the concept offers beverages like the Mal Gusto, a popular morning beverage with sherry and Cocchi Americano, a quinine-laced aperitif wine produced by Giulio Cocchi.

Watch as Goodfellow displays his bartending mastery by mixing three of Bar Raval's most popular cocktails in the video below.

Gusto 101’s Chef Zennoni Menu Offers Something For Everyone

Video Produced by Vanessa C. Rodriguez

Toronto is arguably one of Canada’s top foodie cities. Having 10 Torontonian restaurants listed in our Top 25 list alone, it’s not hard to believe why restaurateurs place such importance on not only its food, but architecture and restaurant experience as a whole, to stay ahead in the competitive market.

That is the case for: Gusto 101— a five-year-old restaurant located in the heart of downtown Toronto, which serves up modern takes on Southern Italian cuisine. The casual eatery was born inside a repurposed garage, featuring concrete, metals and an overall industrial look to the space.

“The Gusto design... Janet has quite the eye for that... it did win international design awards…,” said Gusto 101’s Executive Chef, Elio Zennoni, who was referring to Janet Zuccarini, Gusto 101’s owner, and the Hospitality Design Award the restaurant and Munge Leung interior design firm won back in 2013 in the casual restaurant category.

The space also features a retractable glass roof for the rooftop dining area that was allows Gusto 101 to provide a patio experience to its guests year round, especially during the fall and winter months.

To complement the innovative restaurant design, Gusto 101 is equipped with a tech forward kitchen which Chef Zennoni, who has been cooking for over 20 years now, notes it is something that appealed to him from the beginning.

“[This is] probably one of the most high-tech kitchens I’ve ever worked in. We have a full-induction burners, combi oven, so on and so forth…It’s at the top of the level of, as far as, the future of kitchens, and the future of restaurant design...,” says Zennoni.

Chef Zennoni, who was first introduced to international cuisine through shows like Wok with Yan and Pasquale’s Kitchen Express, likes to keep the Gusto 101 menu light, fresh and accessible. The menu features creative salads, pasta (which they prepare in-house), flatbread pizza, grilled detailed dishes and sweet desserts. Their goal is to provide plenty of options, something for everyone who visits.

In this Table 42 Vignette, Chef Zennoni demonstrates for us Gusto 101’s signature dish: a Tuscan Wood Fired Grill Pollo with grilled chicken, butternut squash puree, farro pickled radicchio, toasted hazelnuts.

He begins by first preparing a butternut squash puree with shallots, nutmeg and cream butter. After, he sautés some farro with pickled radicchio. The dish also carries toasted hazelnuts which are rolled on a flat surface to break off its dark brown skin and later are tossed in olive oil.

The chicken breast is lathered in olive oil and brine made out of salt, clove, garlic and fresh herbs. Then it is grilled and later sliced on a bias, or roughly 45 degree angle, “to fold it in on itself just so it looks like a chicken sitting in it’s own nest.”

After plating the beautifully prepared dish, Chef Zennoni adds the last touch --- a dash of Maldon sea salt flakes.

Watch the episode to learn more!

Richmond Station Does Food Differently

In this Table 42 Vignette, Chef and Co-owner of Downtown Toronto’s Richmond Station Carl Heinrich describes how Toronto and Richmond Station have grown as an important part of Canada’s food scene.

Don't Call it a Tavern

Heinrich and his business partner Ryan Donovan wanted a restaurant with a tavern feel – that wasn’t called a tavern. As they sat together one day in a tavern, marveling at the subway tile that surrounded them, an idea dawned. With some word association, the subway tile led them to subway station, which blossomed into the Richmond Station – a nose-to-tail, farm-to-table restaurant.

The concept started, as Heinrich describes it, “between two parking garages next to a crack park. It arguably wasn’t a great area when we found it. It wasn’t very glorious, but it was a good space.”

Richmond Station
Richmond Station

That it was, with 80 seats, an open kitchen, and a neighborhood that promised busy lunch and dinner rushes.

Since then, the Toronto food scene has grown into something great with Richmond Station as part of the fabric.

Nose to Tail, Farm to Table

“It’s the best food city in Canada. Maybe even one of the best in North America,” Heinrich contends.

He adds, “We are not a meat or meat-heavy restaurant; we love vegetables, too. If we want to put a steak on the menu, we buy a cow. If we want to use bacon, we buy a pig.”

Notably, the partners only buy locally and from people they know, picking up animals directly from the farm.

Heinrich explains, “The way we buy food is a little different. When we want to write the menu, we call a farmer…[we] don’t call ourselves a farm-to-table restaurant, but we are. We buy food directly from people that grow it, and we take a lot of pride in the relationship we have with our suppliers.”

Note that’s suppliers with an “s” – 40 or 50 of them.

“The food we get changes on a weekly basis, because we put a big focus on buying really, really tasty food. I’ll never buy meat…from a farmer unless I’ve visited the farm,” Heinrich stresses, adding “it’s a holistic way of cooking that we’ve become known for.”

What's Cooking

“Our food isn’t really cutting edge. It’s not out there. We’re not playing with techniques that nobody’s ever heard of,” Heinrich admits.

However, Richmond Station is cooking food people can relate to and offering the hospitality to go with it.

“We are cooking my Grandmother’s food,” he said.  “It’s our ability to go above and beyond…and really push it to make sure you are really well taken care of…and I think that drives people to come back.”

Food in Your City: Exploring Toronto’s Culinary Scene

Food in Your City: Exploring Toronto’s Culinary Scene

“Food in Your City,” a new original mini-series umbrellaed underneath the Foodable Network's "On Foodable Side Dish" channel, brings viewers into different cities around the world, painting a realistic picture of the local culinary canvas. An artistic interpretation that showcases various cultures’ approach to dining, “Food in Your City” celebrates food vendors, street markets, restaurants, and the people who have dedicated their livelihood to the craft of food production, in the most raw, original form. In this second installation, we visit Toronto. [Check out our first installation featuring Tokyo here.]

Toronto (and Canada in general) has been on our radar for some time now, hence Foodable’s recent Canada launch. Four years ago, David Chang expanded his Momofuku empire into Toronto with three restaurants, including a 3-story restaurant, but not just because the local culinary scene was heating up. Rather, he saw its potential. He even told The Canadian Press as recently as 2014, “We’re not there yet — I don’t think anywhere close — but I believe it will happen.” Now, with so much diversity to pull from — its population stands at 6M+ — and well-known chefs building presence in this city, Toronto, known as being the “New York of Canada,” has become a culinary force to compete with. True Torontonians know this sentiment goes beyond peameal bacon sandwiches at St. Lawrence Market (though there’s that, too).

Read More

Foodable Welcomes Toronto, Our Newest Foodable City!

toronto skyline.jpg

As Foodable expands its readership beyond U.S. borders, we are happy to announce that today marks our rollout of Toronto coverage. This includes the introduction of a Toronto blog, as well as a Foodable “Top 25 Restaurants in Toronto” ranking. [Last month, we announced the launch of our first international city, London.]

With so much culture and history, Toronto is the most populated city in Canada. With nearly half of its residents being transplants from other countries, Toronto is reportedly one of the world’s most diverse cities. This ethnic diversity speaks loudly within the city’s food and dining culture, including a neighborhood devoted to Greek influence, primarily through architecture and restaurants, known to locals as The Danforth. 

With approximately 200 different neighborhoods making up the city of Toronto, influences from East Asia to classic French cuisine to Italian are all prevalent, and then some. Neighborhoods like Little Portugal, Koreatown, and Little Italy speak to these heavy influences. 

But making things a bit less predictable, a lot of local chefs have taken their native flavors and are combining them with other ethnic inspirations to put a modern, slightly unexpected twist on traditional dishes. According to a Chicago Tribune article earlier this year, Latin American flavors are beginning to make an appearance on more menus, as well.

Toronto’s culinary diversity also speaks to internationally acclaimed chefs trying spread their presence even farther. Daniel Boulud, Masaharu Morimoto, and David Chang are among this set. One of the most hyped restaurants is David Chang’s three-story Momofuku complex, which opened in downtown Toronto in 2012. Located by the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel, the complex — which is essentially a glass cube — holds Noodle Bar, Daisho, and Shoto, among other concepts not related to the Momofuku brand.

And, of course, you can’t beat city views paired with an exceptional meal at restaurants with a view, the most notable being the 360 Restaurant, located in the CN Tower.

What does Foodable’s Toronto rollout mean for you? 

In short: A new blog to bring you the most important, newsworthy food business happenings in the Toronto market from local contributors, along with a regular lineup of original video content from local hosts and producers, including local Foodable video correspondents.

Readers will also enjoy an upcoming Foodable Top 25 ranking specifically geared toward Toronto restaurants. So, whether you’re a local, a transplant, or simply visiting, we will be bringing you a restaurant ranking of the Top 25 establishments that resident diners in Toronto are most talking about right now across 17 social media platforms. 

With so many options on the dining front, these resources will help keep you in the know and give diners, restaurant owners, and chefs directly targeted insight as to how local restaurants are stacking up amongst the competition.

Check out our Toronto blog here.

Want to become a Foodable correspondent for Toronto?

As with all of our cities, we are always on the lookout for freelance contributors with a trade-based understanding of the local dining landscape. We are seeking both writers and video correspondents with an established network in the local culinary scene, and an understanding of the inner-workings of the restaurant business. Interested or want to learn more? Apply to become a Foodable Star here.