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Four greats at Toro

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Four greats at Toro

peelmeagrape | Mar 19, 2006 02:20 PM

Had dinner somewhat reluctantly at Toro a couple of days ago and was glad I did. Four of the items we tried were absolutely outstanding: the fruity smoked duck drumettes; the grilled corn with garlic mayo, hot pepper and aged cheese; their "Del Sol" cocktail; and the frothed custard with lemon gelee and some kind of malted powder on top. I've been savoring each of them in my mind ever since, and will continue to do so (oh, the curse and the pleasure of it!) until I have a chance to go back. The duck was meaty and tender with a luscious layer of fat, the smoke and sweetness playing off each other perfectly. I'd love to figure out how to make the simple but delicious grilled corn. Even on the plate it's straightforwardly gorgeous: bright yellow chunks of corn-on-the-cob, blackened in places, dabbed with garlicky aioli, hit with heat, the acidic tang of lime and the salty goodness of grated aged cheese. They were fun to nibble in that perfect bar-food way, despite the dimly foreseeable desperate need they created for a toothpick. The Del Sol cocktail was actually my DC's...I managed to get in a couple of sips as he knocked back two in rapid succession and headed for a third: evenly balanced sweet and sour flavors courtesy of the OJ and lemon vodka. As a lover of both creamy and lemony desserts, the frothed custard was probably my favorite of the four items. Tiny, tiny bubbles made the cream so delicate it practically vanished on contact with the tongue, a little hidden treasure of firmer lemon gelee at the bottom of the cocktail glass added some heft to the texture and some dimension to the flavor, and with each spoonful, the fine malt powder generated flashbacks to Christina's malted vanilla ice cream.

Of the other things we tried, the rest were either good (roasted eggplant; veal cheeks with prunes; churros with chocolate-chile sauce; sangria) or very good (Spanish omelette, mini ribs).

We were there early, welcomed enthusiastically, and when the place was quiet, service couldn't have been warmer, though as the restaurant filled up we could tell our server was feeling the pressure. Plates came in too rapid succession; it would have been nice to have had more time to savor each without the others getting cold on the table, though I can imagine how tricky it must be for the kitchen to juggle so many small, quickly-eaten things for so many different tables. The décor is personally not my kind of thing: spare and industrial, but it's cohesive and I'm sure there are social occasions when it would be just the ticket.

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