Bar Isabel

Last week, one of my friends and I decided to hit up Bar Isabel, a new restaurant and bar on College street just east of Ossington in Toronto. I’ve been hearing lot’s of great things about the place from my friend @jbsmith. Her boyfriend Josh is responsible for all the great drink creations there.

We arrived just around opening time (6pm) on a Wednesday and there was already people lining up to get in. Since we didn’t have time to stay for a full meal, we opted for some drinks and appetizers. What I really liked from the get-go, was everyone’s welcoming and friendly attitude. The place was nicely decorated. The wood and colored lights gave a very homy feel to the place. Only a few minutes after we sat down, Bar Isabel was already packed!

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The menu was simple but very well divided. They had a big choice of starters then vegetables, meats, seafood, bar snacks, cheeses, cured meats and desserts. Being a vegetarian, I appreciated seeing a “vegetable” section. I know that next time I go, I will have a few different plates. Everything on the menu is also very reasonably priced. One of the things I loved most, were the slogans on their drink and food menus.

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We each ordered some tasty drinks and for our appetizer, we opted for a selection of three cheeses from the chef for $16. Our really kind waiter asked us if we wanted bread with the plate and we said yes, not knowing that there would be a surprise in store for us on our bill. Being a pretty big cheese fan, I was expecting a decent cheese selection from the chef. The cheese we did get was good but pretty standard for a cheese platter, nothing too creative or different. The thing that made us really less stoked was to see we had gotten charged $4 for the bread the waiter had offered us. Now, usually if you’re going to offer a cheese platter on your menu, you’d want to offer some type of bread, cracker, jam, fruit, nuts, biscuit or something to go along with it without charging the customer but apparently not at Bar Isabel. Though the bread was really delicious, it’s absurd to think they’d charge a customer especially when ordering a cheese platter. That unfortunately left a bad taste in my mouth… though not enough to never return. I undoubtedly want to give this place a fair chance: get some more drinks, mains and desserts next time.

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All in all, mixed feelings about my first experience at Bar Isabel. Maybe I just wasn’t lucky with the cheese so I definitely want to try a full meal next time because I’ve heard so many amazing things about them. Have you been to Bar Isabel? If so, how was your experience?

Concord Grape Spread

Last week we received our first Fresh City Farms local fruit and veggie bag. I challenged myself to use every single item they gave us, even if the bag contained some items I had never cooked with before.

One of these items was Concorde Grapes. I opted to try a grape spread to serve with cheese as an appetizer on the weekend. It’s super easy to make!

All you need is a big handful of grapes, rosemary, olive oil, sugar and salt.

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Rinse the grapes and then place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle 2 teaspoon of olive oil over the grapes. Add a pinch of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of rosemary on the grapes. Also add 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar over the grapes to cut the bitterness.

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Place grapes in the oven and cook at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until grapes burst. Once they’ve cooled off you can place them in a bowl.

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I opted to serve the grape spread with blue cheese on whole wheat toast but they can be served with burrata cheese, compté or any type of cheese you like. The strong taste of blue cheese fit perfectly with the sweetness of the grapes! It was a succulant appetizer to kick off a Saturday night meal. Hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

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