Tag Archives: smoked meat

Much Ado About Toro, Boston

25 Jan

A search for Boston’s best restaurants brings up Toro. After a foodie friend recommended the Spanish restaurant, my boyfriend and I decided to give it a try. Toro does not accept reservations, so we arrived relatively early – at 5 PM on a Sunday evening. We waited for a table, eagerly anticipating the delicious tapas to come. 15 minutes later, we are seated at two bar stools facing the front window, overlooking the patio. All the tables inside were filled, with empty seats available only at long communal tables. Here’s how our evening went:

5:20 PM: Our glasses of water arrive, and we wait hungrily, hoping to be able to place our order.

5:40 PM: Finally, our waitress comes to take our order.

Toro - tuna belly6:00 PM: After what feels like a neverending wait, our tapas begin to arrive slowly, one by one. The ventresca (tuna belly) arrives first, as one lonely serving – two slices of tuna on one toasted slice of bread, and topped with celery. We awkwardly try to cut this thing into two pieces. This dish is saved only by the yummy tomato tapenade that had soaked into the bread.

IMAG1481Pork meatballs are juicy yet airy, melt-in-your mouth, flavourful goodness.

Toro - stewI really enjoyed the Catalan seafood stew (suquet marisco) with its complex flavours, full of lobster and clams.

IMAG1483Empanadas have a crispy corn shell and a soft interior of potatoes and chicken. They are served with a fine  green tomatillo salsa and light mayo.

IMAG1484The smokey flavour of the smoked duck leg is complemented by the sweetness of a quince glaze.

IMAG1486-1My favourite dish of the night was probably the beef check – it was tender and melted in my mouth, served with a cold farro salad with radish.

IMAG1487Lubina a la Sal, a salt-crusted Mediterranean bass is impressively presented. The whole fish is served on a plank, crusted with sea salt and herbs, and dotted inside with garlic cloves.

7:00 PM – We are finished eating and a busboy takes our plates away.

7:10 PM  – We request the check.

7:20 PM – Finally, the check is signed and we leave.

The Final Word: The food was delicious, but service felt incredibly slow, and it was difficult to get our waitress’ attention. Is Toro Boston’s best Spanish restaurant? Maybe, though Solea, just west of the city, gives Toro a good run for its money.

Info: Toro, 1704 Washington Street, Boston, MA, 02118 USA

Toro on Urbanspoon

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Montreal Food Tour – Day 2

11 Oct

Montreal is a terrific place to visit, with beautiful historic buildings, great shopping, and of course, terrific eating. On day 2 we skipped breakfast and went straight to Schwartz’s (3895 St Laurent Blvd.) a little after 11 am to beat the lines. Stepping into Schwartz’s is like stepping back in time – as if nothing has changed since the restaurant opened in 1928.   The walls at the small deli are decorated with framed newspaper and magazine articles about the restaurant and its famed smoked meat. One article claims that although Schwartz’s recipe was once stolen, but its smoked meat could not be replicated elsewhere – only Schwartz’s has the “Schmutz Factor” – 80 years of grease and flavour build-up in its smoker.

As it was early, we didn’t have to wait for seats at all. Our order of famous smoked meat, (fatty, of course) and dark cherry cola arrived quickly. I thought the cherry cola was too sweet to pair with the smoked meat, but supposedly that is the thing to drink with your sandwich.

Schwartz's sandwich

We didn’t have fries with our sandwiches, because we immediately went to La Banquise afterwards. La Banquise (994 Rue Rachel Est) is open 24 hours, to satisfy post-partying hunger pangs or perhaps to ease your morning-after hangover. They serve over 20 kinds of poutine! We got a small portion of the Elvis (ground beef, onions, green peppers). We were impressed by the amount of toppings over the fries – the plate was about 60% toppings, 40% fries.

the "Elvis"

We walked off some of our morning calories by heading to the base of Mont Royal to people-watch at the regular Sunday drum circle. Further into the park you’ll find people walking on tight-ropes, or participating in superhero sword fights.

We decided to have a lighter dinner, choosing from the many pho restaurants in Chinatown. We chose Pho Cali (1011 St. Laurent Blvd.) based on how many people were already dining there. Pho Cali delivered yummy pho, even if service was lacking. Ask for a larger table or an extra chair to put your shopping bags on, and you’ll get snapped at.

End the evening on a sweeter note with a few pieces of freshly made “dragon’s beard” candy in Chinatown. It’s a rare sight to find someone demonstrating the complex art of pulling, twisting, and stretching dough into fine, cotton candy-like strands.

IMAG1391

If you prefer chocolate, you might want to head to Suite 88 Chocolatier (1225 De Maisonneuve Ouest) for chocolate domes in exquisite flavours like lychee and gingerbread, square-shaped chocolate “mosaïques,” artisanal truffles, or cone-shaped chocolate “shooters” inspired by Absolut Mandarin, apple martinis, and the like. My boyfriend and I enjoyed decadent hot chocolates – he got a classic milk chocolate, and I had a maple flavoured dark chocolate – while inhaling the tantalizing smell of Belgian waffles in the background; you can enjoy one topped with gelato.

After two straight days of epic eating, my boyfriend and I headed home, bellies full and cravings satiated, but sad to say goodbye to such a wonderful city.

IMAG1393

>> Want more Montreal? Read about Day 1.

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