What’s on the menu at Bar Chica, a new kitchen on King West for Toronto-style tapas

What’s on the menu at Bar Chica, a new kitchen on King West for Toronto-style tapas

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Name: Bar Chica
Contact: 75 Portland St., 416-479-9779, barchicatoronto.com, @barchicatoronto
Neighbourhood: King West
Previously: Bar Buca
Owner: Scale Hospitality Group (Shook, Lapinou) and INK Entertainment (Amal, Akira Back)
Chef: Corporate executive Ted Corrado (The Drake) and chef de cuisine Kevin Lee (Noma)
Accessibility: Fully accessible

The food

Those looking to get away to Barcelona, if only for a night—Chica isn’t your ticket. This is Toronto tapas: plates rooted in Spanish tradition but reworked with Ontario ingredients and a predilection for global flavours. So, if you’re looking to escape by eating your way through playful plates that abide by no culinary colouring book, this is the place for you. “Since we own Patria down the street, I wanted there to be a real distinction between the two Spanish restaurants,” says Hanif Harji, Scale Hospitality Group founder. “Whereas Patria does classic, traditional large format, Chica’s small plates are not strictly Spanish—they’re innovative, technically driven and fun.”

Chica’s patatas bravas distills the restaurant’s culinary philosophy into four bites. Duck fat-pressed potato pavé is topped with a quail egg that’s hidden under three purées: black garlic, burnt tomato and parsley, and a confit garlic aïoli. $12.

 

This is an ode to corn. Every part of the ear is used to create this plate. Smoked kernels (cooked with some soppressata) are topped with a corn foam made from the cob). That same foam is then dehydrated and turned into a chip. The husk is then grilled, and turned into a powdered ash used to garnish the plate. $15.

 

These sea urchin-topped savoury cream puffs are filled with a paprika-spiked honey uni mousse. $16.

 

Tostas con sardinas (sardine toast) shows the kitchen’s affinity for Ontario’s seasonal bounty. Instead of using imported boquerones, Chica makes their own by curing sardines in Spanish olive oil and a house-made ramp vinegar for 14 days. A healthy schmear of cultured Ontario butter, some crusty sourdough, garlic aïoli, thin slivers of pickled ramps, a filet of sardines and a few nasturtium leaves to finish. $18.
This savoury foie gras parfait tart is topped with a Spanish sherry gelée. $19.

 

For this dish, thinly cut Iberico pork shoulder is breaded and deep fried. It’s then topped with mojo verde, fried pickled mushrooms, field arugula, shaved manchego and caramelized onions. $28.

 

This arroz negro starts with bomba rice cooked with cuttlefish ink. It’s then topped with binchō-tan (Japanese charcoal) grilled squid. Puffed rice, Spanish olive oil and a parsley emulsion complete the dish. $19.

 

This chocolate olive oil cake, served with brown butter ice cream, tastes like what happens when a Deep’n Delicious cake goes on exchange to Spain and returns home with a mysterious new accent. $14.

 

Chef Corrado
The drinks

There’s an equal focus on wine and cocktails at Chica. Oenophiles will delight in the depth of Spanish bottles on offer. They carry all the expected varietals (tempranillo, garnacha) as well as some less common ones (bobal, listán negro, albariño, hondarrabi zuri). Although the focus is on lesser known Spanish producers, the selection is rounded out with a handful of French and Germanic options. Bottles start at $60.

Imagine the marriage of a G&T and a classic gimlet and you’ll get close to this Armada. Made with Tanqueray gin, lime juice, lemongrass syrup and tonic bitters, it’s a tart, easy sipper. $16.

 

Named after Spain’s gorgeous mountaintop city Ronda, the Ronda Sour is also a collision of two bracers: a New York Sour meets kalimotxo (a traditional Spanish mix of just red wine and cola). It’s a mix of Bulleit Rye, house-made cola syrup, lemon juice, orange bitters, red wine and egg white. The result is velvety and balanced. $17.

 

Benidorm is a riff on a Red Hook. It starts with eight-year-old Bacardi rum that’s infused with Iberico ham fat. The rum is then mixed with Dolin sweet vermouth, Luxardo Maraschino and garnished with a cherry. $20.
The space

“We think of Chica as Patria’s younger, hipper sister. More adventurous, fun… she stays out later,” says Harji. Designer Danielle Adams (Toronto Beach Club) was tasked with creating a space that was elegant yet casual. She achieved this by ripping out the coffee bar at the front and changing the room to entirely high-top dining.

This triptych by Montreal artist SylT—a visual reference to the three vaguely religious portraits of cloaked women that deck Patria’s walls—inspired the colour palette for the 60-seat restaurant.

 

Rustic elements like these terracotta tiles by Toronto’s Black Rock Studio and the terrazzo floors have been paired with elegant furnishings like marble-inlaid walnut tables.