Toro Bravo III

How To Spend Lots Of Money At a Inexpensive Restaurant

I suppose it’s not too surprising this was a pretty small dinner at Toro Bravo, as it’s the third time I’ve taken Restaurant Roulette there, and most people attend the dinners to try out new restaurants. This is also actually the only restaurant RR has been to more than once, although I often think of places I would like to repeat, but there are just so many new places to visit all the time. I really love Toro Bravo though, and as I knew of at least one valued regular who had not darkened the TB doorstep, off we went. Unfortunately, since Toro Bravo is always slammed, and doesn’t have a normal reservation policy for groups (you have to give them your credit card, and they will charge you if a certain percentage or your party does not show up,) I made the dinner on an “off-night,” and really early as well, so a group of four was all I could eke out, especially after numerous cancelations from new folks. 50% of our group was new on this evening though, so that added a bit more fun to the situation.

Even before 5:30 in the evening, Toro Bravo was starting to pick up steam, and was about half full. As I suppose all the other empty tables for four were being saved for people on the waiting list who were next door at the bar having a drink, our group of four was seated at the end of one of the two or so tables Toro Bravo has that seats 10. It’s always weird when you are four sitting in a place for 10, but once the joint was jumping, every table was pretty much full, except for those tiny little round things behind the curtain, and the other end of out table, although towards the end people were sitting there as well. One thing I did notice on this particular evening at Toro Bravo is that this is the first of the four times I have been to TB when owner John Gorham was not in attendance, slaving over a hot grill. Maybe he actually gets evenings off too these days, since his restaurant has been such a tremendous success since the week it opened.

As alluded to before, although our group was tiny on this evening, it was at least a fresh bunch, with two new members joining us, Glee and Mike. (But keep in mind, I SO value my stale old regulars too, they keep the group afloat. And believe me, no matter how many times people join me at the dinners, almost everyone tends to come up with their share of fresh and lively conversation on occasion, even me, that one time at least.) Glee, who you will hear from a bit later with a review of her first RR dinner, was very enthusiastic about joining a dining group, and was a perfect newcomer, not only enjoying ordering various things, tasting various things, and sharing, but helping me comment on our evening. Mike was also quite a good addition to our group for this particular dinner, as he is of half Spanish parentage, and was born in Spain, perfect for a dinner at Toro Bravo. He also is employed in a profession I know a great deal about, computer graphics, so we had our share of conversation on that particular topic.

I rarely make any negative comments when the subject of Toro Bravo comes up, but at my fourth dinner there, I think I will say that their cocktail selection never appeals to me that much, and it always seems like the wine pours are relatively small. I suppose it could be an illusion, because TB uses those stemless wine glasses, so the visual presentation might come across differently, but I know our old friend Lynne, who loves TB as well, has told me she feels ripped off by the wine pours here.  My drink on this evening, a Violette 75, was in a very small, narrow, but attractively sculpted glass, and seemed rather small for $9, but it was plenty potent. Our pal DD told me after this meal that this was the only part of TB he didn’t think was great, the spirit selection, not only did they not have his “life giving Drambuie,” but their dark rum selection was not thrilling either (maybe he needs to start eating at more Puerto Rican restaurants!) Not only that, I think the waitress nearly gave him a heart attack by telling him his rum and coke was $9 (looking at the bill, it was actually $7.)

Beverage beefs aside though, one thing I have observed over all my visits, the food quality at Toro Bravo is amazingly consistent, and I should know, as I tend to order the same items over and over again, as I love them so much (although I also tried three other things this night, because of the sharing.) As David observed, one thing he has noticed about the small plates/tapas places (as the dinner just before had been at Tapalaya, also small plates,) these places get lots of food going in a hurry, and you are soon surrounded by a variety of dishes. I did rather notice the pace at Toro Bravo this Thursday, perhaps a tiny bit more accelerated from many fine dining places you go to, but not in a rude fashion, by any means, I think they just do what they can to make sure too many tables don’t drag, as there are almost always other people wanting to sit down and eat. In this vein, our server was quite professional and efficient, but she didn’t seem like she was trying to hurry us, or deprive us of dessert (I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS!)

Poor Glee, when she mentioned that she was a human resources specialist, but loved writing, you can just imagine how I leapt upon this fact … “OH GOOD … you can help me out with the review!!!” Sadly, it seems like each time someone joins the group and says they like to write, and would not mind helping me out, this person disappears almost immediately, or can only manage about one review. The only exception to this rule was our dear friend and web queen Marnie, I think she gave me a valuable something for almost every dinner she attended (maybe that’s why she’s vanished,) and I miss her input so, not to mention that lively little personality of hers, and that of the guy she always hung around with (now what was his name?) And good old Frank, he sends me contributions too on occasion. But as for this Glee woman, we’re going to try to not let her escape our clutches too soon, I can assure you of that. (more…)