Of all the restaurants on the to try list, Toro Bravo was the one I was most intrigued by. They offered foods that were outside the traditional and in the realm of the bold and brave, just as the name suggests. But the reports say get there early or be prepared to wait and when I arrived, it was already full.
French Kiss. Brandy soaked punes with foie gras. The foie gras arrived chilled firm. The creamy texture hits first followed by the subtle and then growing mild burn of the intoxicating brandy. An adult food with varied notes of complexity.
Harissa Stewed Butternut Squash with Sheep's Cheese. Wow! OMG! What other words can I use to convey how good this was? I'm not a fan of squash but this was cooked so perfect with the harissa and the cheese that my mouth was saying this was not squash. If I had been blindfolded and told this was meat dish, I would have believed it. Rich, creamy, almost decadent. The harissa provided a mild moderate level spiciness and sweetness that contributed to the perfection of flavors. With this dish Toro Bravo exceeded the hype.
Squid Ink Pasta with Hazelnuts, Anchovy Syrup, and Egg Yolk. I tried this at the suggestion of the stranger I struck up a conversation on my left who had said this was one of his favorites. The pasta was cooked to perfection. Raw or undercooked eggs always makes food taste better. Forgetting what ingredients were, the taste reminded me of not so subtle Asian shrimp paste and then I reviewed the menu and realized it was the anchovy syrup. Fishy, salty, and smooth. This was another wow dish that was a masterpiece almost to the level of the harissa squash.
Grilled corn with pesto. This was offered by the kindness of the stranger to my right whom I struck up a conversation with. Again wow. Toro took simple corn on the cob that most restaurants serve as an afterthought side dish and elevated into a dish that could be a centerpiece. Sweet, smoky, and bursting with flavor.
Toro Bravo now takes center stage as my favorite restaurant to date in Portland. And with so many offerings and what the strangers say is a consistent goodness, I can't foresee any time soon that another restaurant will knock Toro Bravo from the top of my favorite list. What's next?
Restroom Rating: 7.5. Well maintained