Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bravo, Toro!

New Year's Eve I had planned a fun evening with friends at Toro, Boston's hot new South End tapas restaurant. Come 1pm that afternoon, it was pretty clear I wasn't going anywhere. I got the flu and ended up sprawled out on the couch watching Dick Clark's comeback TV appearance (not pretty). One month later, I finally get the opportunity to go to Toro and it was well worth the wait.

Toro has a warm rustic feel to it. Open beams on the ceiling, exposed bricks, a roaring fireplace in the back, high community tables in the middle. It's a bit small which makes for a fairly long wait for a table, even on a Wednesday night (45 minutes). Per usual, when a couple of seats popped up at the bar, we nabbed them so only ended up waiting about 35 minutes before eating which was still painfully long because the restaurant smelled heavenly and we could see all the great stuff being prepared in the open kitchen.

We ended up ordering a few things at a time which was a great way to go and something you can probably only get away with sitting at the bar. Following are the tapas we ordered, not one of which we wouldn't be happy to order again.

Pan con tomate - Served compliments of the house. I think they saw the crazed hungry look in my eyes and wanted to calm me down. It's basically the Spanish version of Italian bruschetta (tomato, garlic, olive oil on toasted bread). Good start!
Maiz Asado - Grilled corn rubbed with garlic mayonnaise then rolled in cotija cheese and sprinkled with espelette pepper and lime. There's a reason it's the "Specialty of the House." Soooo good despite the fact that corn is way out of season. Imagine how much better they will be in the late summer! A bit messy but who cares.
Patatas bravas - Chunky fries (roughly 1" each) served with a tasty aioli (a garlic, oli, mayo mixture) and spicy tomato sauce (wasn't spicy though)
Mini Kobe beef burgers - Now I'm not sure how these are Spanish but they were a hugely popular item, flying off the grill. I preferred my other selections. I actually think these mini burgers are on the menu to placate the large frat boy element in Boston who are hesitant to venture out too far.
Pimientos de Padron - Fried salted green chilies. These were very tasty and not spicy which was fine with me but a disappointment to my friend.
Vieiras - Sliced diver scallops with butter. Served room temperature to cold. Melts in your mouth. With a name like Vieira (my last name, slightly different spelling), it has to be good.
Garlic shrimp - Least eventful of the group but simply prepared and flavorful.
Foie gras with pear - They have 3 foie gras options on the menu which I have to say I've never seen. The bartender recommended this version. It was very good and nice and small. Foie gras is so rich. You can only eat a small amount anyway.
Churros - Strips of deep-friend pastry served with dark, chili-infused chocolate for dipping. Perfect ending.

With one drink each, the bill came to just over $80 for the two of us which I think is pretty reasonable for Boston. Even though the plates are small, we left full and happy. I can't wait to go back and try some other tapas. The list is extensive (over 20 choices) and includes cuttlefish, salt cod fritters, sardines, pork belly, paella for 2 - just to name a few. Olé!

Toro, 1704 Washington Street, Boston, South End
They do not take reservations so get there early or be prepared to wait.

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