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TORITO - Hits and misses

After reading the fairly impressive 3 stars review in today's Toronto star, I decided to give Torito a try this evening. We arrived at 7 to find the place 3/4s full indoor, but the outdoor patio at the back was 'packed'! Our waiter was very friendly, however, I was surprised that he did not put forward any explanation or make any recommendations about the menu! Using Pataki's review as a guide, my son and I ordered the following tapas:

COLD TAPAS

- Smoked trout with potato salad and avacado mayo dressing ( fish was chunky and moist. Dressing was delicious).
- Fish ceviche ( nice use of 'herb medley', good but nothing special).
- Spanish tortilla ( A thick potato pancake thats VERY filling and taste more Jewish than Hispanic. Again, nothing special).

HOT TAPAS

- Crab Croquettes ( two jumbo size crab cakes infused with herbs that renders them more 'Vietnamese' than Hispanic. However, very delicious ).
- Shrimp Acquillos ( 5 big and plump prawns perfectly cooked and piled on top of a pool of extremely tasty 'unknown' sauce ).
- Braised beef cheek and ox tongue ( Fork tender and very aromatic with the tongue the clear winner of the dual. Remember to order some bread to soak up the sauce!).
- Pimento peppers? stuffed with salt cod and drizzled with olive tapanade ( Lovely dish. Again, need bread to soak up the tapanade ).

We also ordered the grilled quail with pomegranate glaze but was told they were not ready. Based on the high quality of their hot dishes, got a hunch, the quail, if available, should be very good!

Lastly, for dessert, we both ordered the 'Chocolate Flan' - A Chocolate Creme Caramel?!. This, undoubtedly, must be the star of the entire meal. What a yummy dessert!!!! Silky smooth and very addictive!

Total bill with food, glass of sherry, tax and tips comes to $110 for two. Will return to try their quails and the 'Chocolate Flan'!!!!

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  1. This is the problem when people go to restaurants that have been given rave reviews - they expect the earth to open up and invite them into some otherworld that they've never been to before. Torito is great! I've been there about nine times, and each time I discover something about the place that I didn't see/feel/eat before. But don't go expecting your life to change! It's a restaurant - and a very, very good one at that - but it's still just a food experience. And experience it you should!!

    1. I'm curious, when you describe the tortilla as more "Jewish than Hispanic," are you saying that they used flavors that made it less like the typical Tortilla Espanola and more like a Jewish food, maybe like potato kugel? If that's the case, did it have too much potato and not enough egg to hold it together? Or was this the first time you've had tortilla and it just reminded you of a typical Jewish dish?

      Also, the salt cod-stuffed peppers you had were likely stuffed piquillo peppers. They're a very typical Spanish item to stuff.

      1. My wife and I went to Embrujo Flamenco on Danforth this week - the tapas were very good, on average quite a bit better than Torito, where we've been once, and Barcelona, where we've been several times. We found the the tortilla at Embrujo to have a complexity and depth of flavour that's pretty rare in North America, and we thought it was far superior to the tortilla at either of the others. Oh, and the croquetas at Embrujo were sublime. The flamenco is, however, depending on your taste, a noxious overture to the touristas, or a pleasant diversion. Torito feels more like a hipster hangout, and Barcelona has the feel of your uncle's tapas joint. Like Spain in the 50's might have been, if you were to reinvent it out of a book.

        gigi - thanks for your comments, but really, if I wanted a lesson in eating I'd, um, buy a book.

        2 Replies
        1. re: francelonian

          We like Embrujo Flamenco quite a bit as well. I have been fortunate enough to miss the flamenco nights (we've been there on weeknights) though I am a bit curious.

          1. re: diablita FL

            I went to Embrujo Flamenco last fall after two weeks in Spain, and the tapas there were actually BETTER than any meal I had in Spain! The shrimp in saffron cream sauce and baked mussels were so good my tongue remembers the taste 10 months later...sigh... sorry, back to my original reason for posting,
            we caught the flamenco, and the guitar playing was outstanding, the dancing forgettable.

        2. the food at torito was very good. the highlight being the quail. however, the service was snooty for the most part in what should be a relaxed and fun atmosphere. the prices seemed a little off for tapas (averaging about $11 each).

          2 Replies
          1. re: traceym

            I've been trying forever to gather a group to go there so I'm hoping it's not a letdown. When you say it's 'snooty' what do you mean?

            I ask because by most other accounts the service was friendly and casual as most Kensington places would tend to be.

            1. re: traceym

              My service there has been entirely unsnooty ...

            2. Hmm, I agree that the prices are not cheap, but the quality of all the dishes we ordered made them worthwhile. On our visit, the service was extremely friendly and accommodating -- the exact opposite of snooty, I'd say. I guess you had a different server or someone was having a bad day...