Toro is a tapas-restaurant in the South End of Boston. It’s located on the edge of this trendy, restaurant-centric neighborhood, in a low-traffic section bordering the edgier parts. But the food bring the crowds. The bar and dining room blend together in single area that concentrates the lively energy. The wood bar stools and tables create warmth that accents the fire in the back of the room. The kitchen juts out just barely into the dining room. The ambiance mimics perfectly that of the Tapas bars in Catalania, Spain which I visited last year.
The dishes are uniquely Ken Oringer with a decided Spanish influence. Tortilla Espanola makes a pro-forma appearance, but the real stars of the menu are the grilled corn with spicy aioli and farmers' cheese rub, roasted brussel sprouts and conejo. David at limeduck gives descriptions here.
Since I’m limiting myself to one dish, I will tell you about the lengua… the Spanish word for tongue. The tender meat is smoky, salty and perfectly marbled for richness. The bed of lentils (lentejas) gives it an earthy, textural contrast; and they tone down the intensity of the meat without distracting from its flavor. (Though admittedly, I prefer strong flavors). The salsa verde drizzled on top gives a sweetly, acidic contrast to the meat which rounds out the full spectrum of flavors.
As a side note, growing up, my parents used to take me to a local deli for Sunday lunch. My favorite cold cut was the tongue, and I regularly ordered a tongue sandwich on rye with mustard. It wasn’t until cooking school, 12 years later, that I realized that tongue was, in fact, tongue. I’m not sure what I thought it was, but I never made the blatantly obvious connections.
Have you ever seen a fresh tongue before?