Bar Isabel

Finally went out to Bar Isabel (797 College Street)! This place has been numero uno on my restaurant wishlist for the really ridiculous reason that I happened to score Barcelona on this Buzzfeed quiz. It is a pricey dining experience and hard to make reservations for so far in advance, but I definitely wanted to make this happen before the summer was over. Luckily, my adventurous foodie-partner-in-crime Stella was available to join me!

After some planning shenanigans on my part, we booked for the two of us at 6pm on a Monday evening. From College station, we took the 506 streetcar west. It was already pretty busy. The colours and moody lighting of the place is romantic. Our server was really attentive and knowledgeable, and I noticed plenty of staff around making sure all guests were being attended to, had full glasses of water, etc.

Stella and I went all out and ordered four tapas and two desserts:

ROAST BONE MARROW
$13

03

ROAST BONE MARROW

Like The Black Hoof, Bar Isabel serves up some delicious bone marrow with bread. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much bone marrow we got! I enjoyed it with the chimichurri sauce. It was a great starter in whetting our appetite.

WHOLE SEA BREAM CEVICHE
$26

04

WHOLE SEA BREAM CEVICHE

Admittedly, this dish isn’t presented in the most appetizing way for me. It was a little more sour than I anticipated, but I really enjoyed the ceviche – plus it came with a ton of avocado! *_*  I also really enjoyed the fried parts of the fish. We devoured the entire thing right down to the bones, haha.

At this point, our server gave us new plates to enjoy the rest of our tapas.

SMOKED SWEETBREADS
raw tuna, spicy pickled green tomato & brown butter
$20

05

SMOKED SWEETBREADS

Neither of us had had sweetbread (animal throat or pancreas) before and were eager to give it a try. I was pretty impressed! I really liked the combination of the sweetbread with the tuna. I was starting to get pretty full after this dish, but the main event was still to come…

1/2 GRILLED OCTOPUS
$34

06

1/2 GRILLED OCTOPUS

This was THE dish I wanted to try here. And man, this thing is MASSIVE. Especially for two petite-sized women like ourselves, haha. I had never had octopus so well cooked like this: it was so tender! The octopus sat on a bed of somewhat bitter dandelion greens. We hadn’t ordered any vegetables so it worked out that this one came with a good amount, haha. The potatoes were also great to go with the octopus. We managed to clean this plate up, after I managed to mooch some of my share off to Stella. :P

Despite being completely stuffed silly, we were determined to get dessert. I’m a huge sweets-fiend and Stella had read unanimously awesome reviews of the desserts here. They all sound incredible, but we ended up going with the two our server recommended:

BASQUE CAKE
with sherry cream
$9

07

BASQUE CAKE

Neither of these desserts were as fancily decorated as we were expecting, but both BLEW OUR MINDS. So simple-looking but so amazing-tasting! Our server presented us with the basque cake and poured the sherry cream on top for us. The cake was warm and moist, with some deliciously crispy parts around it. I don’t even have the words for this; go order this.

CORN ICE CREAM
with spicy caramel & walnut crumble
$8

08

CORN ICE CREAM

A pretty unique flavour of ice cream! For some reason I thought this would be more reminiscent of mais con hielo, but it’s literally corn-flavoured ice cream with yummy caramel and crunchy walnut bits. Amazing great flavour! We tried eating the two desserts together and it was also so delicious! :D

I liked the mood lighting of the place, but at the same time it was a little difficult to see and I didn’t really fully appreciate the visual presentation of each dish until I could view them on my camera phone afterwards with the flash. It can also get a little noisy as Stella and I had trouble hearing each other and the server explaining each dish to us at times. Our server was awesome though and the food was great. Dessert in particular completely won me over! I’d definitely be back for a special occasion to try any of the other tapas, maybe some drinks, and definitely all of the desserts. :Q

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