I posted a few weeks ago wondering if anybody knew about this place, which looked to be still under construction at the time. Well, its open now and three of us went to check it out. Heres an early review, given that theyve only been open a couple of weeks.
Right off the top, its a thrill to have another higher end place in the Bloor West Village. That said, Toro is not as high end as Bloom, but certainly a big cut above a lot of what has been going on in the Village area. Also, being just west of Jane, its right at the outskirts of this area, so almost doesnt qualify as being part of that strip.
The name Toro certainly implies Spanish or Mexican cuisine, and thats kinda what we thought we were going for, but the menu is definitely not Spanish food and they seem to be using the name Toro as a sort of catch-all for new world European dining and steak (I guess). The manager told me the place was an ode to the European dining lounge, so whatever.
The décor is very nice. Warm and stylish, with a downtown feel (if such a thing exists) to the finish, but not intimidatingly slick. Seems a mixture of traditional and contemporary, with warm orange and red hues in the layout. They are building a martini lounge or something downstairs, but that was not done yet when we were there.
The chef is a guy named Colin Gallacher, who according to a little Googleiing worked at Curiousity on Bloor, which was a cool place.
I had the ostrich carpaccio as a starter, while my friends had a salad and a seafood ceviche. This was the best treatment of ostrich that Ive had in ages; I expected the carpaccio to be the usual, with very thin meat flattened on the plate with some oily treatment, but instead came as a surprise in the form of a rolled up presentation sitting on top of a small piece of bread pudding and some greens. Great idea, and boy was it good. We all commented that the starters are too big and need to be restrained a little bit so you have more room for the main dishes. The salad one friend had contained avocados and goat cheese (friend not into avocado, so made a mistake there), while the seafood ceviche got a big thumbs up.
The mains are essentially based around steak (four or five different cuts, including a bison) and seafood, including a full page of different mussel preparations. There was also a duck breast dish and some others. I had a very juicy ribeye steak which came with what I think was a beautiful veal reduction (though a little too rich for my liking) and an apple tart as the starch. It seemed like the tart was spiced so that it better complemented the meat, and surprisingly it worked so that I didnt feel like I was eating apple pie with the steak. One friend had the beef tenderloin, which came with a scalloped potato side and a poached pear on top. Big portion here. The other had mussels, ordered with a thai barbecue preparation. Again, the portion was very big, with a very big ceramic container of mussels.
Desserts are made in house (I asked) and are dense and decadent. We split a low, rich chocolate cake and a custard sabayon. Wow.
The service was nice, if a little eager, but they were not very busy so we had very attentive waiters. Theres a big handsome guy who was the main waiter that I swear is on some TV shows. Great beers too: we tried a Croatian beer in a 500ml bottle that was terrific, and my friend had the Leffe from the tap.
Overall, I loved this place. It was terrific. We rolled out of there feeling rather gluttonous. Its gonna be my new fall-back restaurant. Hopefully the lounge theyre building downstairs wont turn it into a big noisy hangout. Great to have a place in the area thats not a bar and grill.
And oh, price. It's not what I'd call cheap, and more of a special night out with friends kinda place, but the portions are large and the wine is not marked up nearly as much as other places.