Into the belly of the beast: how to manage Toro on a Saturday night?
It was not my choice, but friends invited us to Toro for this evening at 8 p.m., which I'm assuming is the absolute peak time for this place. I'm wondering several things:
1) How long should we expect to wait for a table for 4?
2) Is there a reliable public parking lot within reasonable walking distance? How much will it set us back?
3) What are your faves on the menu?
Thanks, hounds, for facilitating my experience at Toro. We found parking right away on Harrison St. We had to wait just over an hour for a table (after being promised a 30-minute wait), but they did give us a pan con tomate appetizer for free for the delay. During the wait, I had a pretty tasty Sassafras Mojito, and then a glass of the Garnacha, which at $6 was quite passable. Brought this to the table with me for the meal. The group of 4 ordered a total of 9 tapas, most of which were quite good, and were paced well---they arrived a couple at a time, the first ones quite quickly after we ordered. We got:
pimientos de padron: quite good and authentic, a generous portion; unfortunately I didn't get a single hot one though
corn on the cob (maiz asado): amazing! never had corn like this; I'd go back just for this dish: sweet, succulent, and unique
beef tongue over lentils: very tasty and tender enough, although I'm not an expert on tongue. Tasted kind of like a really good salami, and the lentils were garlicky and good
octopus (pulpo): this was just so-so, not tender enough and swimming in too much liquid; I've had lots of great pulpo in Spain and never found anything as good stateside; I'm partial to the Galician version.
beef short ribs: good, not great; quite tender but a bit dry at the same time; tasted like beef stew and not particularly Spanish; However I only had one small-ish bite of this
seared foie gras with persimmon and blood orange: I liked this quite a bit, but I'm no expert on foie gras. I really liked the persimmon and blood orange chutney/sauce as it countered the richness of the foie and each flavor was pure and distinct
patatas bravas: quite a good version, with good aioli; potatoes crisp, hot, and not a tad greasy
salt cod fritters: good, not amazing: crispy and not greasy, creamy on the inside, but a bit bland. I would have liked them spiked with something spicy but perhaps these were more traditional; the inside tasted like brandade de morue to me.
so, that's only eight things; I can't remember the ninth, so it must not have been very good!
So, despite all the controversy about this place being too "scenester", I found the food better than I'd expected, and better than Dali, for the most part. I didn't find the "sceneness" annoying, but that was because I was engaged in fine conversation with my own group. Only issue was the long wait. I'd go back but would like to check out other tapas places as well.
Oh good .... thanks for reporting back. I think the patatas bravas at Toro are excellent. Really liked the corn, too, and I'm not much of a corn on the cob fan. We tried a few other things, including the ventresca tuna which was delicious but a tiny portion and expensive (altho I realize this kind of tuna is always pricy). The rillettes/confit preparation was the only stinker we ordered -- too smooth and a tad sweet. Not my thing.
The foie gras sounds great and I'd like to try these peppers sometime too. But I think I'll wait for nicer weather when you can eat outside or even wait outside. I found the dining room to be pretty noisy. Did you?
There is on street parking but you will need to circle around one-way streets with lights before you find any; you certainly can find it over on Albany Street if not between Albany and Harrison Ave. No need for a lot.
I would eat lightly beforehand to avoid hunger pangs, so that the wait is less of a chore. I and most of my friends are folks who will never wait more than 15-20 minutes for any restaurant, and make our resos and choices accordingly.
It's ridiculously simple, but the the fried-peppers tapas are amazing. Quick fried, spinkled with sea salt and served hot.
Sevice here is a few rung below the food. Expect a decent wait and a lot of attitude. Every time I've gone, the server seemed like they were more intent on seeing how far they could get the final bill to ring in at than helping us figure out how much we needed to eat.