Tucked away in a Burlington strip mall off of Guelph Line, Barra Fion is honestly a hidden gem. Judging from the outside, I didn’t expect the food or the space to be anywhere near what I experienced that day! So, for real, don’t judge a book by its cover.
The first thing you see when you walk through the door is the shiny bar. Three shelves of liquor lit up by cool-toned lights reflecting off a huge-ass mirror, you can’t help but be mesmerized. Half of the walls are filled with beautiful chalkboard art and hand lettering of punny sayings and witty one liners. Wood accents are showcased all over; from the massive ceiling beams to the gorgeous bar, it’s a space of sophistication. The dining area consists of high bar tops, regular tables, and a few square booth with a view of the open kitchen. The atmosphere was cozy and authentic. I was actually excited to put anything in my mouth, really.
Ok, let’s talk about the food! We started off with Shishito Peppers ($7) and a Charcuterie Board ($22). Fun fact, 1 out of the 10 Shishito peppers in the bunch is super friggen spicy. So, you’re basically playing pepper roulette, good luck! These peppers were blistered with a yummy, crispy skin and a tender, sweet interior. The charcuterie board came with cured meats, pâté, cheese, pickled veggies, shishito peppers, bacon jam, olives, and bread. Ooooo girlllll, I could spread that pâté on bread and eat it all day, same with that bacon jam! It was loaded with unexpected flavours.
We had to pair our feast with a classic Spanish cocktail – the Sangria! I’m slowly starting to get into drinking and this Sangria was perfect! A nice balance of wine, juice, and fruits, I could’ve poured it down my throat if I wasn’t driving that day! The timing of every dish that came to our table was pretty accurate, like we weren’t overwhelmed or waiting too long between plates. We consistently had food in front of us and were constantly shoving it into our mouths!
The cute Crab Cake Garlic Mushroom Stack ($12) had a panko crusted crab cake sitting on top of 2 mushrooms and a piece of fried toast. The crab cake had an unexpected texture but the mushrooms were a delicious addition to the toast.
I fucking love seafood and they kept it comin’ with 2 signature dishes. Calamari is always a go-to and the Grilled Calamari and Octopus ($15) almost hit the spot. Chunks of octopus were tossed with poblano peppers, onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, olives, olive oil, and garlic encased between 2 pieces of squid. The flavour and texture combination of the ingredients tossed in the middle were bright ad fresh, I loved the bites of olives scattered throughout. Unfortunately, our squid was under-cooked in the middle but we still chomped on the cooked end-pieces.
Our last seafood dish was super, interestingly weird, yet tasty. Mussels ($15) with double smoked goat cheese. They were all coated in the mysterious broth which was more like a sauce, then topped with crumbled bits of goat cheese. I still prefer my mussels with a lighter broth but I enjoyed Barra Fion’s variation, it’s definitely a curious combo!
The next 2 items were the most recognizable Spanish dishes to me: Empanadas ($12) and Paella ($24). The empanada wasn’t your traditional deep fried pocket of goodness, the pastry was a happy median of flaky and crumbly with a smoky, flavourful mixture of chicken, olives, egg, and chili. It came with an exciting salsa verde and sat on a chipotle aioli.
I was most excited about the Traditional Paella and it still makes me super excited to write about it! Oh sweet baby jesus, I want to shove my face in it again. The perfectly cooked and seasoned saffron rice was mixed with chorizo, shrimp, and mussels with a piece of smoked chicken on top. It came in a beautiful clay dish which made it even more authentic. It was full of comforting and smoky flavours that complimented very well with the seafood and chicken. MMMMMM, infused rice is the best rice!
Lastly, we filled our table with the Double Smoked Bacon and Mushroom Stone Oven Pizza ($17). Caramelized mixed forest mushrooms were scattered with house smoked bacon, bechemel, truffle salt, herbs, mozzarella, and grana podano, topped with raw enoki mushrooms. We were able to get a successful cheese-pull, I hope yall understand the satisfaction that comes with a great cheese-pull. It’s quite magical and exciting. Thin crust, like REALLY thin, with toppings almost to the edge, and a variety of mushroom – oooooo, it was amazing to crunch on. There was just enough bechemel and cheese to give it some weight but still light enough to devour it in one sitting.
It would be dangerous for my wallet if I lived in Burlington. I would most likely direct deposit my pay check into Barra Fion! Lately, I’ve been finding myself at innovative and authentic restaurants in Burlington and Hamilton. Places like PinToh, Aberdeen Tavern, and Uno Mas have been getting me excited about the local food scene. And the anticipation grows with more and more restaurants opening around the downtown core like Berkeley North, The Heather, and The French. I hope you are getting excited too!
Barra Fion provided the complimentary meal, opinions expressed are my own.