Posts Tagged With: Tapas

Toro – The Once Remembered One

ToroNext month I’m turning 50, and this one feels different.  It almost feels like I need to make some lifestyle changes, or at least make a list of things I need to accomplish.  Do I need to take a pottery class or something?  Is there a manual for this?  Age is just a number, until its not.  At 50, you start remembering hockey player’s dads.  At 50, if you go to Toro on Valentine’s Day, everyone around you including the staff will be half your age.  At 50, you are the only one at Toro who doesnt get a bread basket.  Smart!  No bread for you!

When Toro first opened it was the hottest table in the city.  Sometimes places in NYC simply expire in ones mind, and you forget that they exist.  But I needed to be relatively close to Budakkan on this day (debutante’s 18th bash) so Toro was the obvious choice.  After Nishi, Salinas, and others were solidly booked that is, and Cull and Pistol turns out is not romantic anymore.  Who knew?

Toro for the most part delivered.  The space is more smart repurposing of the old Nabisco complex.  In fact I’m pretty sure I was sitting in the exact same spot where the Oreo cookie was first conceived.  Sort of like the Chelsea version of the “I’ll have what she’s having” table.  Toro went from a hot table to the perfect first date spot.  It got that cool factor, and just enough going for it food wise to impress seasoned foodies.

Toro Corn

Courtesy of Open Table

Tapas, you order them and there’s no rhyme or reason to the order they come.  At least  not here.  When the waitress brought the Gambas Al Ajillo, she came back 5 seconds later to ask if we ordered them.  I said “yep, but I wasnt expecting it to arrive so soon (5 minutes after we ordered)”.  That followed by a look of “the answer is yes, Boomer”.  This was closer to a buttery NOLA style BBQ shrimp rather than shrimp swimming in garlic and olive oil.  Thats a good thing.

The Octopus was spanked just enough for a perfect texture, with some squid ink sauce and a Harrisa-like sauce to play with.  Another highlight, perhaps the biggest, was the Maiz Asado, like a Mexican corn on the cob without the cob.  Simple and brilliant.  More simple and almost always brilliant were the Pimientos de Padrón.  I wouldnt dare ask on VD why mrs Z Shishito’s dont come out like this.  The Patatas Bravas were standard but probably an unnecessary order in our case.  If there’s any fault to the random arrivals is that the Patatas should never come last.

Not everything worked though.  The Bocadillo de Erizos, a pressed sandwich of sea urchin, miso butter & mustard seed tasted like two married greasy diner toasts with a hint of sea urchin.  The Rabbit Empanada sounded good on paper, but required much of the accompanied salsa to make an impact.  Same with the fat churros that needed cups full of chocolate gold instead of a drizzle.  And the bread looked ravishing.

Toro is a solid two Z.  Good enough to recommend, not strong enough to return, and in my mind at least, will go back to the dining abyss in about two and a half months.  Too dark for quality pictures

Toro
85 10th Avenue (Entrance on 15th St and, 11th Ave)
Rating: 2 Zs (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Gambas Al Ajillo, Octopus, Maiz Asado, Pimientos de PadrónToro Octopus

Categories: Chelsea, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday – Spain via Montreal

Despana GoodiesTwo for Tuesday is a brand new column on EWZ, featuring two places generally in Manhattan that well represent another city, state, or country.  For the time being Two for Tuesday will be featured on the 5th Tuesday of every March!  I may increase productivity if I get enough likes.

Mile End Deli

Once you are done with our Jewish Delis, why not visit a Jewish Deli!  A Montreal Jewish Deli.  Just like in New York, Jews from Eastern Europe flocked to Montreal at the turn of the 20th century, bringing along all their recipes, including unfortunately for many, Gefilte Fish.  Some of them opened delis (one of which invented the Montreal Seasoning) and over time a distinct meat smoking/curing style was born.  “Pastrama” as the Romanian Jews called it back in the day (and now), became “Pastrami” in NYC, and “Smoked Meat” in Montreal (probably sexier in French) where its done with Brisket (not nave) and seasoned differently.  At Mile End on Bond Street you can comfortably taste a full lineup of Montreal Deli goodies from Matsoh Ball soup to Poutine without fighting the selfie stick filled brouhahas you get at the other delis.  The Smoked Meat is sliced thick, brinier and less marbled than the pastrami.  While I still give a slight nod to the pastrami, there are a growing amount of Montreal fans out there.  Try for yourself.Mile End Deli

Despana

Little Eataly, Little Spain, Eatspana? I personally call it Despana because thats what it’s called.  Started as a chirozo factory in 1971, the Queens branch is still the hub, while the Manhattan branch is the retail source to everything Spain.  Chances are most NYC tapas joints deal with Despana is some shape or form, and so can you.  A large array of Spanish wines in the wine store.  The who’s who in Spanish cured meats… Jamon Serrano, Iberico, and “we only acorn” jamón iberico de bellota.  Marcona almonds – if you never had Marcona almonds, you never had almonds.  Since my local Costco stopped carrying them, I noticed sudden mood changes.  Bocadillo Sandwiched.  The famous white anchovies(boquerones).  You can enjoy a wide array of tapas in the communal tables in the back, or just browse around the store and try many goodies available before buying.  While in other markets, you are not able to try anything and at times it feels like a can of sardines.  Talking about cans of sardines, their cans will make you look at your local market sardines not quite the same way again.  The other day day I had the spicy red sauce ones over leftover Kasha (buckwheat).  Magnifico!

Mile End
53 Bond St

Despana
408 Broome St

Despana Despana in Despana Wall

Categories: New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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