Toro Bravo

For my wife's birthday this year, she decided that she wanted to go to Toro Bravo. We've heard great things and we had tried to check it out three weeks ago, but the plan that night fell apart. This was our second chance, and we were going with four other people. Toro Bravo does not accept reservations, unless you have a party of seven or more. My wife and I arrived at 6:45, to find out that the wait would be 45 to 60 minutes. As we were the first of our party to arrive, we decided to wait it out. I ordered a Sazerac (which was terrific). By 7:10, our entire party had arrived. By 7:15, we were seated (15 to 30 minutes ahead of the quoted wait-time).

The interior is great. It's clean, with low light and a lot of atmosphere. Our server was prompt all night long. Rusty was a part of our group...he ordered the Casa-Rita. Well, he ordered two. Fantastic drink.

Now, the thing about tapas, is that if you're really hungry and really worried about how much you are going to spend, then it's not the place for you. The dishes are small, but they are really meant to be shared, which makes it a great way to try many things at the same sitting. That's precisely what we did. We started off with with the Tortilla Espanol. It was savory, with a smooth texture and quite salty. Next came the Bacon-wrapped dates dipped in honey. I loved them (but then I love dates). The bacon added a saltiness to it that was a nice combination with the honey.

The plates were now coming thick and fast. We had the Manchego fritters, which were piping hot, but not that exciting. We also tried the Roasted Leeks. They were OK. Right behind the leeks came the Sauteed Spinach; Buttery, well-wilted, with pine nuts and golden raisins. I was expecting more from the raisins, which added texture, but not much flavor. Followed by the spinach was the baked polenta. It was cheesy and warm. Then came the Chicken and Crab Croquettes. I really don't like crab, and I was not the one to order this particular plate. But I was glad that I tried it, for the chicken really off-set the powerful flavor that is often associated with crab. Another item that I did not order, but was glad I tasted, was the Oxtail Croquette. It was like a meat parfait. That description will most likely gross a number of you out, but if you love parfaits (and who doesn't love a parfait?) and you love meat, then you will love the Oxtail. Rusty wasn't impressed. Rusty makes me sad.

What scares me more than Oxtail? The answer is Brussel Sprouts. But, one of our party did indeed order the Sauteed Brussel Sprouts. There was quite a "strong" flavor to it. I didn't like them. But, to the rescue, was one of my plates, which was the Smoked Pork sandwich. On the side were slices of a sweet and sour pickle, which I found to be delightful. But the real draw of this plate was the smoked pork. Toro Bravo nailed it. It was smokey, moist and full of flavor. But, the Achilles heel was the choice of celery root on the sandwich. It added no texture or taste and it just kind of got in the way. What I thought while I was enjoying the flavor of the meat was, "I really wish they had used cabbage on this sandwich."

The last plate to arrive was the Whole Petrale sole. It was well-peppered, but the fish head was a little disconcerting.
For dessert, my wife and I shared the Churros and Chocolate. The chocolate was terrific, which made up for the blandness of the churros. Yes, I drank the remains of the chocolate straight out of the cup.

All in all, I had a great time. With tip, our share was $60.00. You can find Toro Bravo at 120 NE Russell Street, Portland, Oregon, 97212. Check it out.

1 comment:

Dazy said...

It has good size portions. We go dine-in there regularly since it is close to our place, you get filled up and usually have leftovers to take home.