TORO: Great experience; Much Improved
- opinionatedchef Feb 4, 2008 10:50 PM
whenever toro opened, we went there twice in its first year. we had a few excellent things, but my memory is of more 'meh's than 'great's. Two weeks ago, that all changed. four of us ordered LOTS of things. the highlights were: almost every single one! Wow, how often can an opinionated chef say that? ! As usual, we ordered enough for an army (we only pass this way once, right?).
My favs were:
#1 believe or not- The Eggplant -of all things! the description reads awfully simple- red onion, red peppers, roasted garlic sherry vngr, evoo.Nonetheless, my fav eggplant experience ever.
other greats: quail, beef short ribs,foie gras(the smaller plate version), paella valenciana.
saltcod fritters were very good but not outstanding like the above. decomposed beet salad
with chevre and sweetened hazelnuts was fine but i didn't think the sweetness worked.
corn was definitely not good this time of year; while it had been super in season.
Sangria was v good and neither too sweet (so common in restaurants here) or thinned down w/ club soda/ fizzy.
service was terrific and friendly( as it had been in previous visits.)
can't wait to go back.
Had a very solid experience at Toro recently, too. I couldn't muster much love for the place despite regular visits over its first six months or so, but it eventually won me over with more consistent cooking, and my own conclusion that dining at the bar there is more fun.
I also had that escalivada (eggplant dish); it's one of my faves there, a rustic, simple joy. There's a relatively new dish on the menu (or maybe I just noticed it) that's worth checking out, some expertly-fried empanadas of chicken and potato with a green tomato sauce.
An interesting item from their cocktail list: an "Aviación". This is a riff on the classic Aviation cocktail of gin, lemon juice, and Maraschino liqueur, one of those cocktails I like to make for friends who think they hate gin (they rarely dislike this drink). The Toro variant replaces the lemon juice with a top layer of lemon foam which has a texture somewhere between meringue and tapioca. You have to sip through this layer and take a bite of it to get the full Aviation flavor palette. I'm often leery of molecular-gastronomic flourishes like this in cocktails -- the result is more often a showy mess than a well-balanced drink -- but this one works. It's probably better as a dessert drink than an aperitif (the overall effect is sweeter than an Aviation), but it's a clever and quite tasty reinterpretation.
I love Toro! I've actually never had a bad experience there- and try to stop in whenever I'm in Boston.
My faves are the Gambas al ajillo, the grilled corn, and the paella valenciana. Last time I was there, we tried the chickpeas with chorizo- those were delicious as well. I don't know if the grilled razor clams are a regular menu item, but the first time I went there I ordered them at the bar and they were awesome. Can't really go wrong, either, with a nice dish of the marinated olives (lemon, red pepper flakes, and maybe something else) and some patatas bravas. Their cocktail list is pretty interesting, as well- I liked that they tip their hat to the 'ghetto drink' of Spain- the calimocho! Red wine and coke=awesome. We used to get big boxes of Don Simon 69pta wine and Kas and drink it various parks around Spain when I lived there in 2002!