Toronto’s Best New Restaurants: Labora

Toronto’s Best New Restaurants: Labora

Labora

At the end of 2017, chef Rob Bragagnolo opened Campo Food Hall, which is a slightly grandiose title for what is, by day, a takeout counter and juice bar with some shelves stocking Spanish imports. The real story is at the rear, where he runs Labora—an apt name, since you get a full view of ­Bragagnolo and his staff labouring over tapas in the open kitchen.

Grilled octopus with potato crema and idiazabal cheese.

The menu emphasizes seafood, and one night included a terrific slider of calamari and pickled pepper, which Bragagnolo lifted from Bodega 1900, a Barcelona vermouth bar run by his hero, the star chef Albert Adrià. No less excellent were grilled octopus with crisped threads of potato, and a row of cold-smoked mackerel slices standing like soldiers at attention, each paired with a dot of blood orange marmalade.

Thinly sliced mackerel with blood orange marmalade.

I also loved a whole eggplant roasted until it was like pudding, its ­sugariness jolted higher by a sauce of almonds and dates. The star one night was a giant red Spanish prawn, split then grilled and anointed simply with a few drops of olive oil. The best chefs know when to let a shrimp speak for itself.

433 King St. W., 416-260-9993, labora.to

Party at the back: Labora is tucked at the rear of the Campo Food Hall.