Toro, South End, Boston Revisited

In Barcelona, Tapacs 24 and La Taverne del Clinic had some of the best tapas we have ever had. In Boston, we believe Toro does tapas very well.

Our first visit to Toro was for brunch because we wanted to avoid the wait time (BMH review of Toro). Since then, we decided to return on a weeknight evening for dinner. Toro does not take reservations on a normal basis, except for special ticket-based events and during Restaurant Week.

 We arrived at Toro at the perfect time, the liminal period between lunch and dinner service.  The bar area has a nice vantage point into the kitchen and while we had a drink at the bar, we enjoyed the smells from the kitchen. The bull’s head, large mirror and colorful chalkboard adds flair to the restaurant.

Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s restaurant has a great selection of Spanish wines and cocktails.

We made our own makeshift Tinto De Verano ($8.00) by enjoying the Cal Blanca Tinto del Toro, a structured red with balanced tannins and fruit with a splash of lemon-lime soda.

As the sun set and the restaurant grew dark, tea lights were lit. I love Toro’s clandestine and cozy environment. The seating design places you in intimate proximity of your dining companions. Patrons sits shoulder to shoulder, however if Puritanical, New England roots come in to play, the tight squeeze and table shuffling maybe uncomfortable.  I think Toro’s design and its ambiance is fantastic.

The menu features pinchos, hot and cold tapas, as well as dishes which require a thirty minute wait time such as the paella. NPR featured a beautifully descriptive and exceptionally informative article on Pintxos: The Flavors of Spain on a Toothpick. The article is well-written, recipes inspiring and the discussion makes me want to return to Barcelona immediately.

As we were waiting for some Spanish olive oil to accompany the bread, we enjoyed the American music piping throughout the restaurant. I wish Toro played more Spanish music, such as Gael Garcia Bernal’s Music Diaries, recently featured on NPR.

We shared the Pan con Tomate $4, toasted bread with tomato, garlic, Spanish olive oil and sea salt. I loved the fresh flavor of the tomato and garlic spread. The smooth oil and flavor of the salt had a nice contrast. This was one of my favorite items from the meal.

In Barca, the bread was even lighter and airy and the toast was lightly brushed with tomato juice and garlic, not a spread. However, I’ll take Toro’s rendition any day. I knew my dining companion was equally happy because the plate was licked clean.

On our first brunch visit, the Maiz Asado con Alloli y Queso Cotija $8, grilled corn with aioli, lime espelette pepper and aged cheese was a disappointment. The kernals were dry and the corn itself was over dressed in aioli. However, this time it was a hit and I was thrilled. The kernals were plump, juicy, well charred and slathered in the perfect amount of aioli and cheese. The corn was piping hot and with a squeeze of lime juice, I found myself doing a second glance over to make sure I did not miss a single kernal.

The Atun Crudo $12, yellowfin tuna was super fresh and delicate complimented by the with white soy, spicy cucumbers, citrus and avocado. My dining companion commented they needed to grow accustomed to the level of tang from the citrus, but it was a nice dish.

Toro’s Asado de Huesos $10, roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade was one of the highlights of the meal. The marmalade had a sweetness which was lovely against the velvety and rich marrow. The concentrated marrow flavor on the piece of toast was heaven and the paper thin radish slices and citrus sections cut the creamy flavors well. Brilliance.

After little debate, we ordered some of the best churros I’ve eaten in Boston. The chewy cinnamon and sugar dusted exterior and light interior is the perfect balance. The ridges provide extra texture and the chocolate citrus infused dish was a lovely accompaniment to the churros.

Our Toro meal was a solid one and we really enjoyed ourselves. This is exactly why on late evenings and weekends, the restaurant is always buzzing with patrons. Loyal diners and restaurant followers are even willing to wait for a seats sans reservations. Felicidades Toro.

Toro on Urbanspoon

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