It has taken us a while to drag ourselves down to the end of Washington St. to try out Ken Oringer’s celebrated tapas restaurant. The whole no reservations thing sapped our motivation a bit, particularly since one of us has an irrational distaste for waiting more than 10 minutes to be seated. But we’ve very much enjoyed Clio, Uni, and KO Prime in the past so it was about time we made the trek. Plus, with a menu that offers such delights as beef heart, tongue, sweetbreads, and head cheese it was only a matter of time before I answered my stomach’s call. We arrived at 5:30 thinking there was no way we’d have a problem getting a table – which we didn’t, but the restaurant was already 3/4 filled. The accommodations are a bit tight, but it works out great for couples who like to stare longingly into each other’s eyes while secretly listening to the conversations around them, sharing knowing smirks and “can you believe that shit?” kicks under the table.
The menu is long and varied, and you will most certainly have several cases of food envy, but you will inspire it as well. We did so, on several occasions, with the following:
Thin slices of beef heart. I’ve sung this meat’s praises before. I don’t want porterhouse, I don’t want filet mignon, I want heart. So much more flavor and the texture is lean and chewy.
Came with what they called Green Goddess dressing, shaved cheese (maybe manchego?), and a creamy avocado mousse. I normally don’t love tomato salad anywhere but in Italy, but I ate my fair share of this one.
Much to my surprise, this was the least successful dish of the night. The jam on the toast overpowered the foie gras with its sweetness.
I like corn as much as the next guy, and I would certainly never order it at dinner, but this was labelled as the kitchen’s specialty so I was intrigued. One cheesy, corn-filled mouth later and I was about ready to order another plate. This is the dish that has me thinking about my next visit to Toro. Do not order this if you are looking to make out with your date after dinner, but if toothpicks and gargling aren’t a turn off or romance is not in the air, then pig the F out. Corn has never tasted so good.
Also delicious. The belly was cooked just right – juicy and melting with a crispy skin – and the flavor combination of the sweet maple crumble and the light, slightly acidic tomato came together perfectly.
We finished off with a plate of churros that must have been fried in bacon fat, because these tasted particularly porky. That, in combination with a bit of a spicy kick from the chocolate, gave the flavors in this simple dish several added layers of depth. On the whole, we had a great experience at Toro. We would certainly return, though only for an early seating since by the time we left the line had spilled out the door and into the street. This made me look forward to the opening of Ken Oringer’s new restaurant, Coppa, even more.