We had tried to get reservations at Bar Isabel, best new restaurant 2013, for our anniversary the week before, however the only time slot they had was 11pm so we instead got a reservation for 6pm the week after, much more reasonable. Down the block from Bar Isabel is Candy Bar, voted best candy store.
I had grand imaginings for what this new candy store would be. I assumed it was located where the Coffee Time used to be at College & Ossington. During the walk there all I could think and talk about was all the different types of candy I wanted to buy: chocolate covered cookie dough bites, a Double Decker bar, gummies of all sorts, Skittles and chocolate covered caramel popcorn (this last one I can only ever find at Sugar Mountain). I had grandiose ideas of this candy store akin to Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC. I can honestly say I was rather disappointed with this candy store. The bulk candy was more expensive than other places, it is understandable for odd candy you don’t find anywhere else like Percy Pigs gummies, but for Reese’s pieces? Really? Most of the other candy we got there can be found elsewhere. The shop itself is also really small. Maybe it is the best candy store outside of downtown Toronto, but for all of Toronto? Sugar Mountain still wins for me.
We got to Bar Isabel about 5 minutes after open (we had been eating our candy in a bus shelter, hiding from the rain and killing time until 6pm) and the place was already packed. Apparently it is really popular, soon after we were seated the place was full… and understaffed. The restaurant is small but seats many, and with so few servers we were stuck waiting a while. We started with a plate of charcuterie, we considered a cheese plate as well but it seemed like it would be too much. Instead we asked the server for a tip on what cheese would go well. She suggested the 14 Arpents. Migawd was she right with her recommendation, I normally hate cheese unless melted. This soft cheese was amazing, I could not get enough of it. The meats were OK but did not stand too well on their own. It was fun making mini-sandwiches.
Up next we had the spicy squid with fried tongue and kale. One bite and my eyes bugged out of my head. It was unbelievable! Easily the best dish of the night. It made me sad that we did not have more people, or bigger stomachs, I wondered what we were missing out not being able to order half a grilled octopus.
After our amazing experience with sweetbreads at Hopgoods Foodliner we decided to order it. I had high hopes for it. Alas it was weird. It was served atop raw tuna. The sweetbreads were warm and crispy, the tuna was cold and chewy- it was all really odd. Then I got a bite of sweetbreads without the safe encasing of deep-fried batter and I gave up on the dish. It tasted like liver and ruined it for me.
We were still hungry, one more dish seemed right. We split the chorizo verde sausage. It was served atop a bed of veggies (escarole) that had been soaked through with the sausage grease making it palatable, for someone who hates veggies- I can only imagine what it must be like if you actually like veggies.