Met friends there last night. Lovely looking space, cozy. Floor to ceiling windows in the front, a long bar along one side, banquette-style seating w/ tables on the other. The banquette is actually a lovely wooden bench and it has this great shape that is so very comfortable--so great when good furniture/furnishings really contribute to the overall experience. In the center a high bar-stool seating butcher block communal table. In the back, the fireplace is in use, in front of it is a server station that includes baskets of bread. It's a great feeling/looking room.
Looking into the kitchen and seeing a roast pig resting...ah, a good sign. Good bar service, was offered a taste of a couple of wines (by the glass) before deciding. IIRC by the glass prices ranged from $6/7 - $12-15. Beers were mostly $6, the sole tap beer (Harpoon IPA) was $4. The menu is a lovely, interesting list on two sheets of paper. Prices from $3 to pricey, some tapas in the $12 - 18 range. We tried a few, with a couple of hits and a couple of misses.
Plate of fried potatoes, so simple, yet still rocked. Served with a smoky aoili. $5 for a handful, though, yeouch (I'd still get them again). Dry roasted mussels? Bleck. Really. Perhaps my tastes aren't sophisticated enough, but it just reminded me of the smell of a burnt pan. Dry and no flavor. A squeeze of lemon does not help. Ribs served with an exotically seasoned spinach or chard were quite good. Three small ribs, fall off the bone tender. Sweetness of their marinade was perfect with the savory, spicy (like a complex curry but different?) greens. It was nice to be surprised by a new (to me) flavor. An order of duck - two drumsticks - was well received but I didn't try. The highlight of my tastes was this remarkable sardine dish--4 tiny fillets served with bright olive oil, (a sweet topping of diced...was it poached fennel?), chopped black olives and pistacios. Crap, I hate that I cannot remember that ingredient, but wow was this dish fab. Absolutely delightful.
The bread served was pretty horrible for a tapas restaurant--it should go with the food, not take a way from it. Service ranged from spotty to just plain poor. Over-zealous staff trying to clear our table when our dishes weren't even half empty, yet somehow a challenge to finally get a second drink order?? Creme brulee dessert was well presented - perfect at room temperature - but with inconsistent flavor throughout, often way too egg-y in spots. They're serving Illy coffee.
It stinks that what was originally touted as *ahem* affordable - "Toro's average check size will be $25, including drinks" (Spanish lessons...
By Joe Yonan, Globe Staff | November 9, 2005) - is not, but I will return as I found it to be a fun experience with great food--provided you order right.
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