If I were to have a Native American name, would it be something eco-aware like Gurgling Creek or Running Deer? No. It most certainly would not. It would be Uncomfortably Full. I haven’t quite learned the fine art of moderation. Not so much with the moderation.
Kanchan and I went to Toro after she (and others) raved about it [they have no functioning website, if you can believe that]. Toro is Ken Oringer’s (Clio) new tapas restaurant in the South End. It being in the South End meant that I could stare at very pretty gay boys all night, to my heart’s content. The restaurant was absolutely packed when we got there. I felt like I was in a mosh pit full of well-dressed young professionals. This was clearly not the mosh pit of my youth (lack of cigarette burns and surplus of oxygen argued against it) but I got shoved about pretty well while trying to make my way to Kanchan at the bar. And this was on a Wednesday night! Surprisingly, we only had to wait about 30 minutes before scoring a table outside.
Unfortunately, it took us about the same amount of time to settle on a decent wine by the glass as it did to get a table. The frazzled by cooperative server brought over a few wines to try till we found one that was ok among the not so great ones. The wine list by the bottle was much more impressive than by the glass. I was not wimping out, I swear. I drove to the restaurant and was already one cocktail down. An entire bottle of wine was not the best idea, given the circumstances. Next time though, no fooling around - we go for the bottle.
I think that the best way to present everything that we ate is in chronological order. So here goes. First up were veal sweetbreads with a yellow tomato puree and wild mushrooms. Neither Kanchan nor I were crazy about this. The texture of the sweetbreads themselves was far less light than I was expecting and to be honest, the taste rather resembled uh, chicken. The tomato puree was very smooth, thick, and enriched with cream, which took away the acidity and most of the flavor of the tomatoes. Eh.
The specialty of the house is grilled corn on the cob (in the back of the sweetbread picture – got too involved with eating to take pictures, bad blogger that I am…). Grilled corn doesn’t sound all that interesting, admittedly, but holy crap is it good: drenched in a thick garlicky butter sauce, topped with shredded hard goat cheese and served with a wedge of lime. The corn was juicy and crisp and so full of sugar that the blackened grilled parts actually tasted like caramel. For the first time in my life I can say that the cheese wasn’t entirely necessary.
Garlic shrimp was as it sounded, swimming in garlicky olive oil and grilled to a nice crunch on the outside. Rabbit and snails with carrot marmalade and parsley puree was meltingly soft and far on the sweet side from the carrots. The presentation of the rabbit was involved – the rabbit was impaled with a long wooden snail kebab, a dab of bright green parsley puree on the side.
Time for the important part, the part that led me to my Native American name and all the pain it implies – the paella. The paella was traditional, as far as I could tell. Short grain rice was cooked in a thick broth with chorizo, saffron, pan fried chicken, mussels and clams, and sprinkled with fresh peas at the last minute. The amount of saffron was just right – not overwhelming yet markedly present. The paella got so much better as it sat (I am pretty certain this was not due to our continued drinking). I think the flavors of the dense and salty sausage needed some time to spread throughout the rice. It tasted a lot better 20 minutes after it had been served. Very odd. Some of the best mussels I have ever had were on that paella – they were giant and meltingly creamy. The fresh peas were neat bursts of freshness among the rice and sausage. We thought we would have lunch for the next day. Ha. That was a lot of food for two people. To be honest, it was a lot of food for four people, but Kanchan and I aren’t quitters. No sir. I earned my way to distended discomfort the hard (but pleasant) way.
There are many reasons to go to Toro – the gorgeous bar, the gorgeous gay boys, the great paella, the tons of things to try on the long menu. Turns out that Kanchan and I are not the only ones to think that Toro is the place to be - Lydia Shire (Excelsior, Locke-Ober) was there! I think Lydia Shire and I may have the same taste in uber-trendy, semi-new restaurants. The last time I saw her I was eating at Mare. The entire kitchen and house staff was hovering over her the entire night. If given another opportunity, I am so going up to her. She is not the most approachable woman in the world and a stranger mumbling something incoherent about a blog and undying adoration will probably not earn much more than a disoriented stare, but I still think it’s worth a shot. Maybe she needs a chauffeur. Or a dog walker. I won’t clean though. I draw the line at cleaning. I think.
1704 Washington St
Boston MA 02118