I’m going to put it out there — patience is a virtue I do not have. Believe me, if you knew about the lateness that runs in my family you’d understand why. That being said, when it comes to Jamie Bissonette and Ken Oringer’s Barcelona-styled tapas restaurant, I am ready and willing to wait with as much patience as I can muster.
I try to use the term “neighborhood gem” sparingly, but Toro is really the epitome of a neighborhood gem. It’s a standout amongst other South End restaurants for me and not just because of the heavy hitters – Ken (James Beard Award winner) and Jamie (2012 Cochon 555 Boston winner) both have plenty of accolades to go around.
Mr. E and I arrived at opening on Saturday. We missed a table by a few parties and ended up hovering around the bar for a solid hour. This is where their no reservation policy kind of sucks. I stress the negative here because you really need to be ready for this. That hour could feel painfully long, especially if you’re not lucky enough to grab a bar seat. Most of your standing time will be spent stepping out of the way of others waiting for a table who are trying to order a drink or dancing around with the wait staff, who firmly tell you to get out of their way. The pain and suffering will be well worth it, once you’re seated with a nice beverage in hand.
We have arrived!
Mr. E perusing the menu // Nice perfectly crusty bread
The perfect bite of atun tartare – tuna tartare with coconut milk, calamansi lime, mint and cilantro
Complimentary congrejo (crab crostini with pequillo peppers and tarragon) from the kitchen. Thanks guys!
Atuna Crudo – yellow fin tuna with white soy, spicy cucumbers, citrus and avocado
Patatas Bravas – classic small plate of fried potatoes, aioli, and spicy tomato sauce
Mollejas – crispy sweetbreads with blood orange, fermented black beans, and hazelnuts // Mocktail a la John the Bartender – cranberry compote with cranberry and ginger syrups
The most gorgeous savory sweet datiles con jamon – Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano
The only corn that matters – no seriously. Maiz Asado con aioli y queso cotija – grilled corn with aioli, lime, espelette pepper, and aged cheese
Yummy churros and chocolate sauce
Normal crowd waiting outside the restaurant
It’s nearly impossible to hold yourself back from ordering multiple rounds of the same dishes. Yes, they are that good. Of course, the absolute best is the house special corn, which is grilled to sweet perfection and topped with a rich aioli, salty aged cheese, a touch of pepper, and a healthy squeeze of lime (if you so choose). Another notable highlight was the sweet breads, an untraditional Kung Pao style dish. If you’re hesitant about ordering sweetbreads (traditionally the calf thymus or pancreas), don’t be. When cooked properly, they’re not organy at all. In fact they taste a lot like chicken nuggets. I’m dead serious. This is not one of those “tastes like chicken!” coveralls. Their tuna dishes were also very nice, particularly the tartare. It was so fresh with the cilantro, coconut milk, and that citrusy zing.
Some people don’t see the value in tapas, but when they pack so much delicious flavor in such small bites, believe me, Toro will make a believer out of you. It pains me when I see yelpers calling this place mediocre, but you know what I say to that? More effin’ delicious treats for me!
Go to Toro and don’t forget to have your floss handy for any of those corn threads!
1704 Washington St
Boston, MA 02118