THERE’S A NEW CHICA IN TOWN
Scale Hospitality and INK Entertainment Group bring elevated sharing plates and late-night vibes to King West neighbourhood
Barcelona meets Toronto at Chica, the newest venture from hospitality visionaries Hanif Harji and Charles Khabouth, opening on April 8th. Chica, the playful little scenester sister of Toronto’s traditional Spanish restaurant mainstay Patria, will bring elevated sharing plates and late-night vibes to the King West neighbourhood, with a fun and innovative menu offering a twist on the time-honoured tapas tradition.
Hidden in plain sight at 75 Portland Street, with fully decaled windows for privacy, the newly transformed space is an homage to Barcelona’s secret laneway tapas bars. Destined to become both a local favourite and late-night hangout, Chica is a modern iteration of old-school market counter meets high-end gastrobar – serving up a new take on the quintessential tapas experience paired with creative craft cocktails and an extensive list of Spanish wines and sherries.
“Our goal was to transform the space, reinvent tapas in a way that was truly unique to us and provide a bustling and energized environment in which to enjoy the entire experience,” says Hanif Harji, CEO and Founder of Scale Hospitality. “Food quality and creativity are at the core of the concept, but we wanted to ensure ‘fun and entertaining’ were also part of the equation; never taking ourselves too seriously.”
“Following the success of Patria, we’re excited to introduce a new Spanish culinary experience to Toronto’s restaurant and bar scene with the launch of Chica,” said Charles Khabouth, CEO and Founder of INK Entertainment Group. “Chica has been carefully curated to showcase both the traditional and inventive side of Spanish cuisine, with a more intimate and lively atmosphere reflective of Barcelona tapas bars.”
Overseen by Executive Chef Ted Corrado and Development Chef Zachary Albertsen, in collaboration with Chica’s Head Chef Kevin Le (Noma), the menu is a seamlessly edited selection of fresh takes on tapas classics like Croquetas de Jamon Con Trufas with black truffle and Manchego; Patatas Bravas with duck fat potato pavé, purée of parsley, tomato, black garlic and quail egg; and Tostadas Con Sardinas with cultured butter, garlic aioli, and ramps. Offerings also include inventive, reimagined dishes with authentic Spanish flavours such as Maíz y Sobrasada with smoked corn, corn foam, and scallion oil; Pescado Crudo with olive oil, buttermilk, basil, and smoked piquillo pepper; Secreto de Cerdo Iberico with mojo verde, caramelized onions, and chanterelles, and Arroz Negro with squid ink bomba rice, charred squid, parsley emulsion, and puffed rice.
Chica’s novel shareable plates are perfectly paired with the Spanish-driven wine program, curated by Corporate Sommelier Lauren Hall, which highlights both classic and iconic producers and the emerging new generation of Spanish winemakers. Wines to look out for include Spain’s white wine of the year, 2013 Rémirez de Ganuza Gran Reserva Rioja, as well as Azul y Garanza’s high toned, claret styled red made from equal parts white and red Garnacha. Hall has also assembled a thoughtful and concise Sherry program to wash down those tapas including Fernando de Castilla’s Antique Palo Cortado.
Complementing the wine program, the cocktails at Chica are a marriage of ‘elegance meets inventive’. In the true spirit of a cocktail bar, the list is backed by classic technique and offers exciting and satisfying libations suited for any palette. Standouts are the Benidorm, a martini with serrano ham-infused rum, the Armada, a deconstructed gin and tonic served up, and the Casa Mila¸ a fragrant, floral long drink, pastel mauve in colour and topped with a Cava float.
Designed by Danielle Adams, the Chica space balances old world Spanish details with modern accents to create a playfully mysterious and seductive atmosphere. Layered with rich materials in a palette of deep colours like mauve and moss green, the space is warm and comfortable while oozing cool. Further defined by the details, the moody, late-night restaurant features a handmade, mosaic focal wall of triangular terracotta tiles, oversized custom wicker light fixtures and locally commissioned artwork full of colours and textures that perfectly reflect the heart of Chica.
The 60-seat restaurant includes an intimate six seat bar shared with an open concept kitchen, and an outdoor curbside patio that will extend the dining area in the warmer months with an additional 40+ seats.
Chica will be open daily for dinner, late-night snacking and fun from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am. To reserve your table, please phone (416) 479-9779 or www.barchicatoronto.com. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram.