Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bravo for Toro Bravo

Toro Bravo is definitely one of our top 5 restaurant picks, so I was excited my bookclub decided to meet there to discuss our latest read, "Little Children." Though the book and the wait (2 hours) to get in Toro Bravo were depressing the food and company was as usual wonderful! They are a spanish tapas restaurant and the thing I love most about these types of restaurants is that you never get bored of your meal because you get to sample so many dishes.

I arrived at 6 pm and we had sent someone at 5 pm to get us a table, because in typical tapa style they don't actually accept reservations (though I have heard rumors that they are accepting them with a credit card for big parties??). My friend that arrived at 5:15 (they open at 5) was told there was already at least an hour wait. This is typically the case and is my only MAJOR problem with Toro Bravo.

I decided that to nourish myself for the two hour standing wait I would order a Bar Masalla, which is an Absinthe cocktail with citrus. It was my first time drinking Absinthe, which tastes like anise or ouzo and the drink hit me quick and oddly made my feet feel numb- it could be that I decided to fast all day to prepare me for my Toro Bravo feast and I was wearing four inch heels?

By the time we sat down we were STARVING and wanted to try basically every pincho and tapa on the menu and with 9 people you almost can! Our pinchos started out with the chorizo and manchego country bread ($6), grilled bacon wrapped dates ($5), manchego paprika fritters ($6), and the fried anchovies with fennel and lemon ($5). The anchovies were my favorite of the appetizers- they deep fry and bread the anchovies with the fennel and the lemon, it is very rustic looking with the whole fish and the flavor combination of fish and lemon always makes me feel like I am in Greece. The fritters are always good and always a little different every time I eat there, but I have yet to be disappointed when I eat the seasoned fried doughnuts typically prepared with the mellow taste of manchego cheese accompanied with a nice crisp salsa to intensify the flavors.

For our salad course, we decided to go with the radicchio salad with green olive toast and manchego vinaigrette($8), singing pig greens with marinated beets, egg, and hazelnuts ($8), and blood orange salad with red onions, paprika and olive oil ($8). All salads were excellent with seasonal ingredients. I really liked the unique combination of the sharp red onion flavor with the semi sweet taste of the blood orange.

The tapas continued with chicken and pork croquettes ($8), harissa stewed butternut squash with crumbled sheep's cheese ($6), drunken pork with white bean salad ($7), squid ink pasta with a jamon braise ($9), baked polenta with roast beef peppers and onions ($7), sauteed spinach with pine nuts and golden raisins ($6), roasted eggplant with sweet pepper lamb ragu and mahon cheese ($9), and griddle shrimp with chilies ($9). (Like I said we were STARVING) The highlight was the drunken pork and I think I could eat it every day for a month for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... it really was that good! Everything we ordered was delightful and the only complaint was that the aftertaste on the squid ink pasta was strange... I loved it though.

Well you would think with all that food we would pass on dessert... wrong! We decided why not try almost all their desserts which included chocolate almonds ($3), molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream ($7), apples baked to order ($7), and olive oil cake with blood orange ($6). I wish they would sell their chocolate almonds at movie theatres and in stores, because I think all chocolate covered almonds should taste like theirs... the chocolate is smooth and creamy and smothers a salt roasted almond. My friends were concerned that the olive oil cake would taste like olives, but to their surprise it tasted like a delicious white cake that was sooooo moist when paired with the blood orange sauce was a true delight!

Even though the book we were discussing was TOTALLY & COMPLETELY depressing - after that meal we were all glowing in our good fortune and thought that maybe the world isn't so bad...


Toro Bravo ** 503.281.4464 * 120 NE Russell St. * no reservations * Sunday - Thursday 5-10, Friday - Saturday 5 - 11


  1. Okay Sis, I called Toro Bravo and according to the message, they accept reservations for parties of 7 or more Sunday through Thursday, but it's walk-in only Friday and Saturday regardless of how many tapas worshippers are in your party. If you do want to make reservations for your large party, you have a narrow window of time between 3 and 5 pm to call (503.281.4464) and do so.