May 16, 2011

Toro 2.0

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It was 2½ years ago that I went to El Toro for some Spanish food on a friend's recommendation.  That was a pretty decent meal, but I never found an opportunity to return. Apparently the chef has moved on and opened a bigger and much fancier restaurant, and I decided to check it out with a friend tonight.

DN innovacíon looks like an upgraded version, both in terms of the space as well as the menu.  In addition to more "traditional" items, the chef apparently does a few "molecular" creations.  I am a fan of molecular gastronomy, and although I was a little weary of this chef doing something along these lines, I decided to ask the chef to throw in something from the molecular side of things along with the traditional.

Powdered foie gras, chocolate and orange caviar - I guess this was the molecular dish... The foie wasn't a "powder" like what I had at El Bulli, but rather "granular" like couscous.  Perhaps it was the humidity.  The foie was sitting on top of a block of chocolate "brownie", which tasted a little of turmeric and in any case overpowered the foie...  The caviar made from orange juice were a little small and the chef didn't get the balance right, so they were just balls of gelatin and didn't have the same consistency as the real deal.  The whole point of spherification is to have the little balls burst in your mouth, and I can't believe how many chefs fail to achieve this.  The cinnamon toasts were OK, but together with the parsley coulis just added to the already busy mix.

Wild Boston lobster - this was not bad, with a "salsa" of Granny Smith apples, tomatoes, onions and black olives.  Very Mediterranean in flavor.

White asparagus - this was in season so of course we asked for it.  Execution was good, although the sprinkle of sea salt flakes on top was a little unnecessary, as the bits of black olives are already enough for flavoring.  The two different "swooshes" are prawn and dill.

Carabinero - it's absolutely amazing to be able to find this delicacy in Taipei, and to be honest this was one of the main reasons I came here tonight.  These Spanish red prawns are just so, so awesome... I can't think of another type of prawns that I'd love more.  The tail was cooked just right - a little on the raw side.  Lovely texture and flavor.  The head is another story...  it was stuffed with some rice and baked until all that seafood goodness has been absorbed.  Exquisite.  I dug out all the rice, then proceeded to dissect the head and suck out every last drop of liquid.  A little piece of heaven.

Monk fish in clam sauce - the texture of the monk fish was very soft, but not quite to the point of mushy.  The chef had wrapped some clams inside spinach, and it was actually pretty decent.

Low temperature roasted Spanish Iberico suckling pig - the tasting menu gives customers the rack, while ordering à la carte means a whole leg is put on the plate.  Pretty delicious... lovely and crispy skin, along with just enough fat to ensure everything is succulent.

White chocolate mousse with mixed berries - this was OK.  Served with Cape gooseberry, red, black and white currants.

One thing I was quite impressed with was the restaurant's wine list.  For once the wine list isn't full of boring Bordeaux.  There are a few good selections from Burgundy, a great selection from all over Spain, and a smattering of German, Italian, Alsatian and others.  It is clear to me that the sommelier who put together the wine list really knows wine.  To top it off, the prices are pretty reasonable.

2006 Santiago Ruiz - I walked into the restaurant wanting to drink some Albariño, so I asked for this particular wine.  Unfortunately the restaurant just did a promotion on Galicia yesterday, and what was left in this bottle - opened the evening before - was given to us by the sommelier to taste.  Nose of minerals, flint and toasty oak.  Not bad, but the slight oxidation is evident.  The interesting label comes from a drawing made by Isabel, the daughter of Santiago Ruiz, who wanted to give her guests instructions to get to her wedding at their house.

2008 Pazo Barrantes Albariño - nose of lemon, flint, toast, sweet and ripe, pear, a little floral, peach, sweet like caramelized sugar, and almost a little bit of petrol.  Slightly acidic but pretty smooth on the palate.  Lovely to drink on a summer day.

This was a pretty enjoyable evening.  The food was pretty good, although I wondered why Chef Daniel kept using the same ground bits of dried black olives...  In terms of pricing this is starting to skew towards the high end for Taipei, which may partially explain why we were one of only two tables on a Monday night.  I think I'll give this place another try sometime in the next couple of months.

1 comment:

HK Epicurus said...

Hi,

Will you be interested in splitting a purchase of the Carabineros or similar Red Prawn from Spain?

Obviously its frozen, unfortunately. I NEEED this in my freezer, I can't get it out of my mind!

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