I've wanted to visit Toro for the longest time, but previous comments on long waits and rushed service had me holding off for just the right moment. This past Saturday evening, at about 6pm, this moment arrived, and the planets and stars definitely aligned for a truly exceptional experience. It was looking busy inside, but outside there were still a few tables available, so we grabbed one. It was a beautiful night, and we were instantly greeted by our server who pleasantly took our order for a pitcher of sangria and an order of pan tomate. I'm not a huge sangria fan, but this was good. Dry and not too sweet with chunks of assorted fruits. $22 for a pitcher which seemed to last throughout our meal as we refilled our small glasses over and over. The pan tomate was a terrific starter ----so simple. Grilled bread rubbed w/tomato, garlic, and olive oil...truly a taste of summer. Since I'd read here that servers tend to bring everything at once and then rush you, we decided to order in stages, which seemed to be no problem at all. Started out with the grilled shrimp and an order of the corn. (the "speciality of the house" --grilled corn with lime, and a type of aged cheese liberally sprinkled on top. Again, both were just absolutely delicious. About 6? pieces of large succulent shrimp bathed in a tasty sauce...I couldn't quite figure out what it was but went really nicely with the grilled, smoky flavor of the shrimp. The corn is everything posters have said and more.....so many different flavors --lime, smoke, sweetness, piquant cheese --all coming together perfectly.
Definitely the tapas of the night. So much so that there's talk of trying to duplicate the dish at home. Something tells me it just tastes right here. Complimentary bread was soft and tasty, perfect for sopping up any last remnants of sauce from both the shrimp and the corn. Next up was the fried salt cod fritters --reminded me of crab cakes and came with these tasty fried lemons, a light tempura batter and the sweet/sour flavors of the fried lemons really were sublime. Each bite of each tapas was truly unique and so delicious. We had attentive service throughout. Never once felt rushed and our waitress would check in with us, ask if all was ok, if we wanted to order another round of tapas, etc. Unfortunately by the time we finished those fritters, we were getting full. Not stuffed, but pleasantly sated...and we decided we'd definitely try some of these other delicious sounding items next time we were back.
Perhaps it was just that we got there early, and it wasn't crazy-busy. We left close to 8 and the place was rocking. Tab was just under $60 for a pitcher of sangria, the pan tomate and 3 tapas. No, not cheap, but really really good, and worth every penny. The truth is, this is how I prefer to eat. Tiny little tastes of lots of different things, vs. one big entree that I usually get tired of about 1/4 way through.
I'll definitely be back.
I'd been wanting to try Toro for a while but I was hesitant because of the reported mad crush and the "I'm too sexy for my shirt" kind of vibe I'd heard about. Figuring we'd be safe on a Wednesday night on the early side, a friend and I gave it a try.
First of all, the service was really nice -- I had feared the rushed thing, or the exasperated 'that's all you're going to have?' attitude, but no such thing. We sat outside and were never hassled or bothered and everyone from the hostess who joked with us to our server to the runners were really sweet.
We had: the famous corn, suckling pig rillettes, pan con tomate, ventresca tuna, patatas bravas and sangria. In my next day analysis, the patatas bravas was my favorite taste of the night, served with garlicky aioli and smokey paprika. So simple, so good. Everything else was very good, although the ventresca (fatty tuna belly) was such a teeny tiny taste it was hard to really get into it. The only item I didn't care for was the rillettes -- served on little quarter sized rounds of toast, it was too smooth and too sweet. Perhaps it's just a style thing, but the best rillettes I've had is more like confit in texture, and this didn't have any pigginess to it. Skip it.
Sangria was very good, although I'd still give the edge to Maureen at Gargoyle's.
But you know, I really liked the place. It's refreshing to find a spot like this that *does* live up to its hype.
I was the lucky friend, and I was also really impressed. That ventresca tuna was pretty tiny (served on a little crostini with a bit of tomato pulp and celery leaf), but I would happily order about 5 of them in a sitting. Also agree about the patatas bravas -- really GREAT frying -- crisp, brown, and completely greaseless. I thought the pan con tomate was maybe a little bit dainty -- basically their excellent bread topped with tomato pulp, salt, a little garlic and a little olive oil. I hoped for something a little more rustic and more intensely flavored with olive oil, but that's just a style difference, this was very well-executed and tasty.
As yumyum said, the service was great -- friendly, genuine, and very attentive as well, from beginning to end.