2016 BEST RESTAURANT DESIGN:
PINTXOS BAR OF INCONTESTABLE AUTHENTICITY. MAYBE MORE IMPRESSIVE STILL IS THE
FACT THAT NO RESTAURANT DESIGNER HAS EVER MANAGED TO SQUEEZE SUCH A GRAND
AND COMPLICATED AESTHETIC IDEA INTO A SPACE THIS DIMINUTIVE. THE EFFECT IS BOTH
CAPTIVATING AND TRANSPORTING. THE PLACE IS MAGNIFICENT.
What Grant van Gameren and his partners, Mike Webster and Robin Goodfellow, wanted was a contemporary look back at the style of Art Nouveau—and, in particular, the Catalan variation of Modernisme.
For, if you’re going to knock back perfectly-executed pintxos in a bar named for a nifty district of Barcelona, you might as well do it in a place that reminds you of Catalonia’s best-loved architect, Antoni Gaudi.
But the team at Toronto design firm Partisans have delivered so much more than that. Their room is a warm nest of sculpted African mahogany, flowing and fluid, curving and dipping and soaring this way and that. Even the window openings appear to have formed all by themselves, organically. Just as the bar seems to have grown out of the wall, and the bottles sprouted from the shelves behind it.
Discount the top of the bar, cluttered with your drinks and small plates, and there isn’t a flat surface in the room on which to rest your eyes. There are 75 wood panels, all told, collectively carved with 9 km of engraving—without a single jarring line in the mix. Everything flows together as seamlessly, as do Webster’s cocktails and van Gameren’s small plates.
Bar Raval is a uniquely inviting space of an entirely new sort that succeeds by every measure at its singular ambition. And for that we recognise it as the Best Restaurant Design of the Year.