Restaurant review: Labora

Labora takes over the entire Campo Food Hall space, bringing Toronto more of its top-notch tapas. 

What’s the vibe

Labora originally launched as part of Campo Food Hall, a collection of businesses modelled after a Spanish market, which opened in December 2017. The successful Spanish tapas restaurant has now expanded into the full space, with the entire 3,500-square-feet now devoted entirely to Labora.

The biggest change you’ll notice compared to Campo is the revamped wraparound bar, which has added 25 seats to Labora’s previous space. High-top chairs now line this eye-catching bar, offering diners a direct view of the raw bar, Spanish charcuterie and cheese station, as well as the restaurant’s beer and vermouth taps.

Labora strikes a balance between classic Spanish elegance and King West cool with its aesthetic. The vibe is intimate and inviting, with a slick open kitchen, plus lots of exposed brick and wood touches.

What to drink

Taking a cue from Spanish aperitif culture, vermouth is a focus of Labora’s drink menu. There are over a dozen kinds available – served on ice with an olive and twist; or combined with soda or cava – which make for light pre-dinner drinks or pleasant pairings for the tapas that follow.

Vermouth is also a major part of the restaurant’s cocktail menu, including their signature cocktail: the Labora Cola. It’s served tableside in a soda syphon, which carbonates the Iris Dorado vermouth. The interactive presentation and flavour (which is reminiscent of vanilla cola) have made it a favourite with diners.

There’s also a solid gin selection and both white and red sangria. Wines and beers are a mix of Spanish and local options.

What to eat

Labora’s tapas menu is inspired by chef Rob Bragagnolo’s travels around Spain and represents the country’s cuisine at its best: simple, delicious and rustic. The offerings include plenty of tapas bar classics like the thinly-sliced Iberico ham, which is aged 36 months. The croquetas de cordoniz are another tasty take on a Spanish staple, featuring slow-roasted quail meat, deep-fried with a coating of panko and served with a soft-boiled quail egg on top.

The show-stopper, however, is the rubia gallega; Ontario prime ribeye which is cured in-house for seven weeks and served sliced into delicate ribbons. Despite the beef’s Ontario origins, the dish actually takes its name from a breed of Spanish cow. The buttery ribeye is served with porcini and honey mushrooms and truffle, which add a subtle earthy flavour. We recommend finishing with the crema catalana, a Spanish twist on creme brûlée seasoned with saffron and cinnamon.

Dinner and drinks for two: $85

433 King St W, 416-260-9993,