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85 10th Ave (between 15th and 16th St, Chelsea)
Fatty Kat Eats: Caballa Tartare, Bocadillo De Erizos, Setas, Panza De Cerdo, Maiz Asado
Do y'all remember that frigid night 2 months ago when mother nature took a big dump on the city? Snow, of course. Most people scurried home for warmth and Seamless to the dismay of deliverymen everywhere. Me? I saw this snowy obstacle course as the perfect time to wine and dine at one of the city's hottest foodie destinations, Toro.
Throughout our years of friendship (and many meals too), @sooeypooey repeatedly raved about some tapas joint in Boston named Toro. I didn't really catch on until these delicious tapas arrived in the Big Apple. Yes, this hot spot is a Boston transplant! And we love it as long as the Red Sox keep their distance. While I admire so many things about this restaurant--it's gorgeous and the kitchen churns out damn good food--the portions are shameful! They belong on a kid's menu, and yes, "tapas" considered.
Our first dish set the tone for the night. The Caballa Tartare was incredibly tasty, but something was missing--more Caballa Tartare. This 2" x 4" tin contained a few chunks of mackerel with "stuff that we all really like," but the portion size was absurd. Although they hooked me with the coconut milk and Thai-inspired flavors, I felt a little cheated out of $15. This dish was a cute play on canned fish, but we were left wondering how a restaurant could rob us blind so easily.
If you scour the Instaworld for #uni or #seaurchin, you'll inevitably find an over-filtered picture of Toro's Bocadillo De Erizos. This uni sandwich is as badass as they say. The miso butter and mustard seeds create very unique flavors though not overpowering. The only problem? There's not enough of the good stuff! El Quinto Pino came out with an uni sandwich years ago that's just as buttery and delicious. You get more uni, but the sandwich is much smaller. As an uni lover, you never win. :(
Here's another popular dish found all over social media--Setas. These grilled mushrooms are so beautifully flavored, both smoky and rich at the same time. The gorgeous egg yolk does just as much for the taste buds as it does on the eyes. Everything on this plate is simple and made better for it.
Nothing like pork belly on a frigid night. Am I right? The Panza de Cerdo reminded me of roast pork found at every other restaurant in Chinatown with its crispy skin and salty flavor. The rutabaga and apples? Not so Chinese. There was a subtle kick in the sweet and savory supplements, which further distanced this dish from my childhood memories of roast pork. 2 thumbs up for presentation! Those crazy Spaniards and Portuguese love pork, which was clear in this dish. However, I expected a few more pork-centric dishes than the menu provided.
The paella that could...but didn't. Everything about the Paella De Langostino sounded great on paper. From the black truffle to the lobster, we were sold! I can't pinpoint exactly what it was, but none of us were very impressed. The lobster jus didn't make its way throughout the rice, and where did the black truffle come into play? I just didn't taste it, and trust me, I was trying! Perhaps the chef was caught in the snowstorm? In that case, the dishwasher did a fine job.
I love love love corn, especially when its of the Mexican/Spanish variety: grilled, creamy and tart. While I can't imagine that it's very hard to make, I've had some pretty disappointing Mexican corn before. This was far from that! Just look at those toasty hues of grilled perfection. The cheese wasn't overwhelming (aka I didn't get it all over my face), and each cob arrived beautiful and buttery.
These 3 dinky Churros were not the best way to end the meal, but the dark chocolate didn't disappoint. I've had much better elsewhere. Don't waste your cash money.
Toro, I like you. You're pretty. You're fun. You're yummy. But hot damn, you're an expensive date! If you know me well, you know I have no problem spending a few extra bucks for good food. But from a pure value perspective, this place does not rate high on my list. There are many other great tapas restaurants in this city. I want to be back soon, but next time, I'll have a bagel before dinner.