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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:


- 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).


- 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...

              1. Oooh, definitely go back to Torito and save room for that Chocolate Flan. It's not a dessert for the calorie-conscious or faint of heart. Both chocolate and caramel flavours are intense (and the caramel is suitably "burnt", not sickly-sweet syrup that you sometimes get). Tell your dinner companions to order their own -- you won't want to share!

                1. Just ate at Torito last night for a pal's birthday and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Our server was accomodating and helpful- NOT snooty in the least. The sangria was perfect and we devoured our dishes. We had the fresh cheese with fiesta (soft, white cheese, good bread drizzled in olive oil and a medley of spanish pickled baby pickles, olives and beans), followed by the lentil soup with serrano ham (yum), the asparagus with potato and egg confetti, the flat iron stead with Gallega chips and one fried egg (the meat was butter knife tender and gristle free!) and we enjoyed the almond cake with peach preserves and a dollop of creme fraiche. It certainly wasn't cheap eats- but everything was VERY fresh, flavourful and well prepared. I'd recommend it. This fall, I learnt that the owners will be opening up a long, wide tapas bar downstairs, as you'd find in the south of Spain- where you can pull up to the bar, grab a drink and get the same food you do upstairs, only in a more relaxed bar-like setting.... I'll be back to check that out indeed.

                  1. Hey I was there for my wife's birthday last night too! I was very impressed, great service and a fun atmosphere. They even put a birthday candle in the chocolate flan for my beloved. I ended up eating more than my share, though.

                    I would also agree that the hot tapas menu has more winners on it, and the beef cheeks and tongue were the star of the show for me too. The quail was also fantastic. Pricey compared to tapas in Montreal, but then isn't everything?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: childofthestorm

                      No kidding! I saw the little choco flan with the candle get brought out- nice touch! Your partner must have been thrilled. Glad you liked the experience- I know I did. It's the closest thing we've got to say Montreal's Pinxto which was recommended by the gang at Gourmet Magazine and which I just tried out last Sat. night. In a word- WOW! Basque style tapas with a very clean edge. I LOVED their grilled cod with cherry tomatoes, basil chiffonade over smashed potatoes. DIVINE. I'll be posting about this later....

                    2. Was just there and had a fantastic first time. Service was nice and ample and the food was uniquely delicious - I haven't been that engaged in a dining experience for a long time!

                      -Smoked trout with potato and avocado mayo was good, a nice starter with the very pure taste of smoked trout and potato being held together by the wonderful mayo

                      -Crab croquettes very 'crabby' with an interesting medley of herbs used but the 'parsley aioli' lacked any flavor and just seemed like a generic cream garnish. Nicely crisp on the outside.

                      -Black bean with Jambon Serrano was a surprise hit, more like a light stew of beans and other vegetables with the jambon cooked in as well. Intense flavor with varied textures worked wonders.

                      -Grilled King fish with basquaise sauce. The serving of fish was largest serving of all the dishes and was good but I'm not a fish fan. The basquaise sauce was a great complement of a light tangy sauce of sweet peppers.

                      -Shrimps al ajillo had 6-7 shrimps cooked just right and had a delicious hearty and strong sauce. Mopped that up with the bread.

                      -Braised beef cheek and tongue. Cheek was amazing, practically melted in the mouth but the tongue was somewhat less interesting and more like a simply firm piece of meat.

                      -flatiron steak with chips and egg. Again a wonderfully potent sauce that perfectly brought all the strong flavors and made something greater. One of my favorites.

                      -Desert was almond cake with peaches and creme fraiche (i think). The tart was a nice serving, and had a fresh light almond flavor but was somewhat too firm and dry for our tastes.

                      Service was efficient although it was 9PM on a Thursday. Water was frequently filled and the table was efficiently cleared. Items that ended up staying with me was the black bean soup, the flatiron steak, and the beef cheek (but not the tongue). I heartily encourage pretty much anyone to go.

                      Two questions:
                      What is bread, cheese, and 'fiesta'exactly?
                      I'm trying to bring a group of people of which one is a vegetarian. There's only one hot dish but several cold veg options - is there an opinion from any vegetarians (fish-free too) that enjoyed their meal here?

                      Bill for three for the dishes above and a Spanish bottle ($45)of which I don't remember the name and 1 cappuccino came to $124 before tax and tip. We were a party of three that aren't big eaters and were quite full when finished.

                      1. Glad everyone else got non-snooty. Looks like we got a bum waiter perhaps. He was downright mean with open eye-rolling when we asked to order a couple of dishes and wait to order the next...isn't that part of the point of tapas? Well even before we could order more, he gave us the bill, no "would you like more? how about a coffee? perhaps some flan?" I have never before been given the bill before being done. I could see if it was close to closing but it wasn't.

                        I'll have to try it again, because the food was truly amazing and the sangria was delish (and potent!)

                        1. Seconding the snooty. I arrived with a friend at a fairly early hour, and the restaurant was half-empty. The table they gave us was wedged between a large noisy family, with several children, on one side, and a couple on the other. When we asked if we could move to a quieter empty table for 3 we were told we couldn't. ten minutes later, the noise rising, the table (and several others) still empty,we asked the person who seemed to be the manager. he refused. we politely said we would leave, and he started to argue with us - its not any quieter at the other table, we can't afford to lose the third seat, etc etc. Well, he lost 2 customers! I dunno, at $50 or so a pop, I want gentler kinder classier service. Have the great reviews gone to their heads?

                          1. FYI. toritos is closed till mid-Jan.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: lowchen

                              Has anyone tried their paella yet?? I still miss Spain and especially the incredible paella there.

                            2. I have eaten at Torito on a number of occasions and by far the best dish on the menu that no one has yet to mention (in my opinion better that the tongue an cheek, better than the flat iron steak, better than the quail, better than the shrimp) is the Chilean Tripe stew.

                              It is one of the best tripe dishes i have had in the city.
                              I guess you wont yet find anything involving tripe on restaurant reviewers radars...
                              it has not hit the level of trendiness of other offals...

                              4 Replies
                                1. re: Dimbulb

                                  The tripe was simply mentioned in passing, listed off with a bunch of other menu items.
                                  The only adjective used to describe it was "chewy"....