I finally got around to checking out Portland's newest spanish restaurant, Toro Bravo, earlier this evening. Their website is still under construction, but you can see their menu here. I staked out some real estate at the bar with my camera and my copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma, ordered up a glass of Rioja (just for the record, I'm really not down with the stemless stemware), and set about perusing the tapas menu for a couple of small plates.
I started with the Tortilla Español. Of course. To my mind, Tortilla ranks right up there with Patatas Bravas and seared scallops as the acid test for a tapas joint (Barry and Shellane, are you guys listening?). This tortilla was a simple preparation, packed full of chunky potatoes, served at room temperature and topped with romesco and a lemony aioli. Very tasty, and a bargain at five bucks.
For my other selection, I went with something a little more exotic, skate wing, which appeared to have been lightly sauteed... with a LOT of black pepper, which for some might be a bit overpowering. However, for my taste, which leans toward aggressive flavors, it was perfect. It was served with roasted garlic, olives, capers and a single small red pepper. I'd never had skate before, and this was quite a revelation. It's excellent, almost scallop-like in flavor, with a texture somewhere between flaky and shredded, if that makes sense.
All of this begs the question, of course, how does Toro Bravo compare to Pata Negra? I'm a little reluctant to make that comparison, as Toro Bravo isn't even a month old yet, and two tapas is by no means enough to make any kind of judgment. I'll take a stab at that once I've tried a few more of their tapas, and of course their paella. That said, I would definitely recommend giving Toro Bravo a try. They seem to be on to something.