Thursday, May 31, 2007

¡Finalmente, hoy comí en Toro Bravo!

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.


Hungry T said...


I checked out TB myself the other evening (with pre-meal drinks at Trebol). I wasn't as impressed. Nothing was bad, but nothing stood out as exceptional either. We had salted almonds, the burger, the torta, meatballs, and was there a chorizo dish? I was planning on revisiting soon, a notion reinforced by your review.

The highlight of my visit was their version of my favorite drink, the Moscow Mule. They called it the Barcelona Mule, and made it with housemade ginger beer. Certainly worth trying next time you are in.

And (from someone in the wine industry), I'm willing to go on the record as stating that stemless wine glasses are pretty much the lamest thing ever.

tommy said...

Thank You! So glad I'm not alone on the stemless wine glass issue.

I've got a little more, ahem, research to do on this place before I can really form an opinion. I have a feeling that Pata Negra will remain my yardstick where spanish food is concerned, but I'll be back to TN before long. And I'll be sure to order up a mule.

rkb13 said...

Since the stem does nothing to affect the flavor or aroma of the drink, your blog seems to have a pretty "lame" choice of dialog. I'm sure you guys can still swirl your wine and extend your pinkies without a stem on the glass.

tommy said...

Well, I guess this is something of a milestone: my first flame! Thanks for stopping by, Ryan! Hell of a way to introduce yourself...

Yeah, I'm sure the stem/no stem debate seems a bit fluffy in light of the weightier issues of the day, but hey, we all geek out on something, right? For some it's wine glasses, for others it's Fixed Gears and Helle's Belles...

Being more of a beer guy than a wine guy, I can't defend the stem on technical grounds (although I'm sure HT can, as he PAYS HIS FUCKING BILLS by knowing wine; incidentally, Ryan, what exactly are your credentials where wine glasses are concerned?). The stemless wine glasses just annoy me. If there were a purpose to it, that would be one thing, but for centuries we have stems on wine glasses, then some jackass industrial design student from Finland or somewhere has to screw the whole thing up... Come on...

Of course, this is just one post, Ryan. I hope the rest of my blog is up to your meticulous standards... Dick!

The Guilty Carnivore said...

I hit up TB last night and sat at the bar and had a fantastic meal. Everything was well executed and nicely paced. The sangria was refreshing, and I had a gin drink with muddled peppers and mint (with simple syrup) that was fantastic. The highlights for me were the fried anchovies (that paired wonderfully with slices of fried lemon), the coppa steak, beef pinches (dipped into the romesco served with the anchovies), spinach with sunny side up egg, spicy shrimp with chilies.

Hungry T - like tommy, I'm more of a beer guy, but if I'm drinking a decent red I definitely want a huge ass glass with a stem...I dunno, just seems right.

My wife actually picked up some stemless glasses at Kitchen Kaboodle that she swills her white plonk from, but they make fine ice water glasses, in addition to be a nice pouring vessel for Hoeggarden (so they are a multi-tasker in Alton Brown's spirit). But T - there's something to be said about the stemless if you have a 3 year old kid tearing around the house.

tommy said...

Okay, fine...

Three year olds can drink wine out of stemless glasses. But while I am totally down with the Alton Brown school of multitasking, I say the rest of us need some damn stems!!!

Ooohhh, I didn't have the sangria... Gonna have to go back...

Hungry T said...

Not to throw more fuel on the "stem/no stem" fire, but the stems actually do serve a purpose (and yes, I will now go into wine fanatic mode).

The stem actually will affect the flavor and aroma of a wine, albeit in an indirect way.

Serving wine at the proper temperature is important. Serve a wine too warm and all you'll taste is alcohol. Serve a wine too cold and you'll either taste nothing, or all bitterness and tannin. The stem acts as a bit of an insulator, keeping your warm, grubby paws off the bowl. Now, your hand doesn't put off that much heat, but it's definitely enough to change a wine's temperature.

Additionally, by using the stem, you keep greasy fingerprints and smudges off the bowl, allowing you to enjoy geeky things like color, hue, and saturation.

Plus, they look damn elegant in my dining room's built in cabinets.

But, I will admit they also tip easily. I have a friend who, literally, has broken a champagne flute at my house every Bastille day for 4 years running.

Anonymous said...

i seem to have overlooked the hand thing, thanks HT. i guess kinda like warming brandy or scotch with your hands on the snifter. i stand corrected. it just seemed like a silly topic of discussion when there are many more critical issues to critique in a restaurant.

interesting how some people cant take criticism without lashing out and resorting to childish name-calling. im sure as shit you wouldnt call me a dick in person tough guy, but if typing it on your blog makes you feel important and better about your shortcomings...type away sir.

again, thanks HT...seems i don't know quite as much as i thought i did.


oh yeah...for what its worth...i ride fixed gear too :)

rkb13 said...

oh i get it. you googled me. sorry...little slow.

tommy said...

Looks like we got ourselves a good old fashioned FLAME WAR!!!!

Of course I wouldn't call you a dick to your face in public. That would be crazy. If people did that, we'd see fist fights breaking out everywhere we looked. Society would come apart at the seams. It'd be like that 28 Days Later movie. But on my blog, ya come talkin that trash, we'll pull ya cord (dating myself there but hey). That's the rule. I do have to say, though, that I've gotten way more traffic out of this post than any before or since (remember, kids, bloggers love comments; gives us a sense of validation). Oh, and just for the record, I'm perfectly comfortable with my shortcomings, thank you very much.

Yeah, I googled you. What did we ever do before these interwebs came along, eh? And yes, Hell's Belles rock. They arguably do AC/DC better than AC/DC themselves. Never been down with the fixies, however. Much like wine glasses need stems, bikes really do benefit from gears.

tikimojo said...

Wine is so cheap in Spain, in some places it's almost cheaper than water. Wine is much deeper in people's lives there. There's nothing like going into a little bar, asking for Vinto Tinto and for 1 or 2 euros getting a glass of decent red AND a snack! Try finding a two dollar glass of wine in Portland that comes with food.

Wine is much more of an everyman food there too. People aren't getting out wine for a special occassion - it's always around.

Since our first trip to Spain we switched over to simple no-stem glasses & we *GASP* refrigerate our cheap red wine. It's pretty dang refreshing my homies.

Would I turn down a big piece of stemware with fermented grape juice in it? Heck no - but the stemless is pretty hep. Easier to clean too.

There's my two cents.