Thursday 05 October 2023

The tapas bar of the chefs: great food in a cool setting

Host Ambassador Enrico Cleva explains how Bar Raval in Toronto’s Little Italy district has become the most talked-about bar in town, by offering a food experience in a stunning, culturally offbeat setting

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As well as working as an architect and as an interior designer consultant in international marketing and business development, Enrico Cleva is Host Ambassador for Canada, contributing to the Host blog, BeMyHost.

In one of his most recent “forays into hospitality trends” he presented the interesting case of the Bar Raval in Toronto, created by talented local chef, Grant van Gameren and his business partner Mike Webster.

Recently described by Toronto’s Globe and Mail daily newspaper as “the most beautiful bar in the city” this tapas bar is named after a historic of Barcellona and is in the Little Italy district, a very busy area with plenty of entertainment facilities.

The design, a pastiche inspired by Spain, tattoo art and art nouveau, which was very successful in the city, is visually striking.

The reasons behind the layout were explained by the designers of the establishment, the Partisans Architects studio, a group of young architects and interior designers guided by the two founders Alex Josephson and Pooya Baktash, who were recently announced as the winners of 2015’s OAA (Ontario Association of Architects) Best Emerging Practice and Design Excellence award.

“Our team instantly found inspiration in the passions of the clients, who are masters of Spanish cuisine, art and culture. The design developed out of a connection between the formal histories of art nouveau, the plethora of cured slabs of meat (Iberia’s famous, if rather pricey Bellota ham is one of the “culinary attractions” of the bar) and the anatomy of the chefs themselves: a tattooed, muscle-bound group of intellectuals.

Our design is a three-dimensional tattoo manifesto in pure CNC’d mahogany. The wood dances, creating a fluid stage for some of Toronto’s best culinary and mixology masters to perform their art on.

The wood supports the most dynamic, state-of-the-art technologies and systems in the industry.

The metallic lingerie that shrouds the windows, giving the passers-by only a flirtation with what lies within, is a metaphor for all the mystery that Toronto’s culinary and design worlds have to offer.”

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