PDX: Toro Bravo, tapas
Just got back from our Toro Bravo excursion....I remember reading a post "...paley's, wildwood, yada yada yada, but dont miss Toro Bravo.." -- I thought WOW, how do you put tapas in the same category as Paley's? -- Now i know.
we have been to most of the Chowhound's recommended restaurants, and this one is a real standout....Parenthetically, we went to The Farm last night and it was also one of the most memorable PDX meals in a while.....
I must say we "used the force" and order perfectly at Toro Bravo. It will be hard not to order the same items next time. Shocker of the night: Out of the 6-7 dishes, the BRUSSEL SPROUTS were the highlight among many standouts. They were served with bacon and a sherry cream sauce. Every item was outstanding!! Manchego and smoked paprika fritters, a must have. Grilled Bread with sauted hedgehog mushrooms. Amazing butternut squash dumpling (quinelle really) with stewed lamb - these gnocchi like dumplings were one of the best homemade pastas i've had. "Drunken pork with white beans" -- incredible pork tenderloin wrapped in jamon. My wife had a wonderful Albarino all night and i had a great rioja, crianza ((after a nice bourbon drink)).
We cant wait to go back. We will hopefully go back at least once before we leave town....
Thanks for the rec!!!
Went to TB today for the first time with my SO. There was a 45 minute wait for a table at 5:45 on a Thursday so we opted to eat at one of the tables in the waiting room, an option offered to us by the very kind hostess. Never had fried anchovies before but these tasted a little burnt and salty without even a hint of the lemon the menu said they were supposed to have. That being said, this was a whole fried fish, a dish that's a little adventerous for my palate regardless. The baked sheeps milk cheese was good but we could have used a few more pieces of bread and it would have benefited from being toasted IMO. After these two dishes I started to get claustrophobic in the waiting/eating room so we settled up after eating the sauteed spinach with golden raisins and pine nuts. That dish was the highlight of the night. Everything was cooked perfectly and went together harmoniously. I want to go back at 5:00 on a Tuesday or with reservations for seven sometime and try some more dishes.
We try to get there about once a month (OK, sometimes more often if we can) and we have never been disappointed with the food or the service. We were there last night and had fabulous crab cakes, spinach w/pine nuts and raisins, drunken pork with white beans, whole petrale sole (perfectly cooked...and for $10?!) and sous vide leg of lamb with baked beans. The baked beans were amazing. Everything was good to great. We didn't get our usual order of fried anchovies with fennel and preserved lemon, but what we had was so good, we didn't miss it. We shared a caramel panna cotta for dessert (wherever John Gorham is cooking is where the best panna cotta in town usually is) and left very happy and sated for under $60 (one decaf, no drinks, not including tip). For the price, it is one of the best spots in town.
Went to Toro Bravo with a couple friends on Monday night. We started with the complimentary chickpeas, which were a bit brutal on the bicuspids -- stopped eating them after a couple bites. For the first round we had the salt cod fritters, which were served on top of a very pungent garlic aioli that hit the palate hard at first; the outside of the fritter was fried really crispy, just on the brink of being too dark, which contrasted perfectly with the mashed potato-consistency of the inside. At the back end of the bite, I could taste the fish -- a little fishy off-flavor -- but, all in all, the highlight of Round One. We also had the chicken and pork fritters: the texture of the filling was like rillette, but not much flavor.
Scallops with red pepper coulis > perfectly seared, sweet scallops, perfect flavor companion with the red pepper
Clams with tomato sauce > needed some bread to soak up the sauce, but flavor was really rich, thanks to bits of ham in the sauce
Drunken pork with beans > beans had fantastic flavor and sublime creamy texture, I could have had a whole bowl of them
Baked squash casserole > chunks of squash in puree with dots of goat cheese
Polenta > really orange-colored polenta (I'd like to know how it got to be that color) topped with cheese, simple but comforting
Eggplant Parmigiana > eggplant was sliced length-wise, baked and toped with cheese and tomato sauce
Olive oil cake with blood oranges > wedge of light pound-like cake with blood oranges and syrup. Good, simple.
Cheese plate > the mix was a bit strange: 3 goat cheeses and one cow (blue), flavors ranged from mild to stinky, and textures were mainly semi-soft to grainy/crumbly -- nothing hard (no manchego!) and nothing soft and creamy. The almond crackers that came with the cheese were sweet and salty: I'd love to stock these at home.
Each of us had a glass of wine with each round, so all told we spent $150 (not including tip) and dinner lasted almost 3 hours. Service was attentive, never had to wait long to order another round of food or drinks, if a bit impersonal.
This was my second time there. Each time I've thought the food was good, but I haven't been, like, WOW! This time the food seemed more Italian-inspired than Spanish, but maybe it was just the assortment we ordered. At any rate, I'm sure I'll be back for a third, hopefully charmed, time.