I have been complaining here and to friends about the hustle-you-out attitude at Toro, which I find particularly offensive given the owner's cant about it being a neighborhood place in the spirit of a real taberna. It was gratifying to finally have a visit where it actually lived up to this noble idea.
I do think the food is lovely here: on a recent visit, we had octopus ceviche (really superb, wafer-thin sheets, such lovely unmushy texture), chorizo and chickpeas, roasted eggplant, a pork rib special with some kind of wonderful maple-y tasting spinach underneath, grilled sardines (too lacking in real fish flavor, but good for people who don't like the taste of sardines), veal cheeks (spectacularly rich), a good cheese plate with an Uruguyan manchego and a runny, fierce blue.
To my amazement, they've blunted another of my harshest jabs -- the overpriced wine list -- by adding a $15 bottle of red, a Jumilla (some kind of Monastrell blend) I've had at home for $8. It's plonk, but decent plonk, whose need to mellow another couple of years in the bottle becomes less noticeable after a glass. Nice to find something under $45 for weeknight dining.
Congenial, warm service, far less than usual defense needed to fend off the aggressive plate-clearers, no apparent pressure to Wrap It Up. I can't begrudge Toro its success, but I've decided that it's really only enjoyable to dine here on nights like the other night, when bitter cold kept the waiting list fairly small, so the waitstaff didn't feel compelled to pry us out of there. If only it were like this every night! Once again, I'm hoping the warm-weather opening of the patio will relieve some of this pressure even on busier nights.
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