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#21 Calabrese

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:38 PM

I want to go, too! We haven't had decent tapas in this town since Tapeo closed.



Amen, to the Tapeo comment. And this probably has gone way up the list of places I haven't been that I want to go.

#22 tammi

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:51 PM


If you want company soon to venture to Toro Bravo, I'm game! It sounds fantastic.


I want to go, too! We haven't had decent tapas in this town since Tapeo closed.

Should we plan something? I can go next week. May 29th or 30th...

#23 Jill-O

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 07:03 PM

We went there tonight and had a great meal.

Started with chicken liver mousse with sherry which was very good. It came with marvelous pickled onions and pickled cauliflower.

We also had:

salt cod fritters w/aioli - great crispy fried fish cannelles (about 5-6 of 'em) with a lemony garlic mayo

potatoes bravas - thick slices of fried potatoes (with lots of seasoned salt) on top of a tomato sauce drizzled with the aioli

fennel & tomato braised artichokes with aioli - this was a GREAT dish - very tender artichokes, sweet tomato sauce, crisp fennel and garlicky aioli (the aioli was on too many things, I know, but it worked here and not as much on the potatoes)

Meatballs with almond sauce and peas - good herby meatballs (5-6) with fresh peas in a tomato/almond sauce (like a romesco)

Lamb braised with apricots and honey with couscous - John sent this out to us and I am glad, because it was delicious. I am not a lamb fan, but this was really good - tender and rich lamb in a sweet and flavorful but not cloying sauce.

Jamon wrapped chicken with pisto manchego - this was another great dish with a large breast just cooked through and very tender and juicy wrapped with ham (jamon) with a ratatouille-like (zuke, onion, pepper - not sure there was tomato, though) sauce.

We could not finish everything and had some things wrapped to go, because I had to save room for panna cotta. John makes some of the best ever, and tonight it was vanilla with fresh strawberries on top. Awesome stuff.

All of this (too much food for two people who can seriously eat - they may be small plates, but they are not tiny and many are great to share) plus a glass of wine and a glass of sherry was $63.

It was a great deal on a very good meal with very good service in a very nice space (comfortable seats, too!).

We saw tammi (and Mr. tammi) there...and at the PSU Farmers' Market on Sat...we think she is following us! ;o)
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#24 Kristi

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 07:11 PM

Damn, I'm sorry I missed that dinner, Jill! Instead I got to listen to whining about what I had made for dinner. Your evening sounds so much better!!!

#25 Cat Lancaster

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 07:14 PM

I am not a lamb fan, but this was really good - tender and rich lamb in a sweet and flavorful but not cloying sauce.


And yet you seem to be eating lamb a lot lately :blush:

Cat
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#26 ExtraMSG

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 08:06 PM

I wish I would have realized they're open until midnight on Friday and Saturday. I rushed from Northwest to get into Pok Pok this last Friday which closes at 10:30.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#27 tammi

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 06:22 AM

What a great dinner!

We loved it, its my new favorite spot, I can't wait to go back and try more. Its very reasonable, the service is right on.

It was easy to choose what to get. I had my eye already on the eggplant lamb dish based on Cat's review. The salad with the grilled asparagus, a must. The rest...a nice rioja 22.00 bottle (very reasonable and good) and based on Jill-o and Calabrese recs we got the wonderful fennel & tomato braised artichokes with aioli & the jamon wrapped chicken with pisto manchego - We got there just as they were finishing up so we got the low down, but I doubt you could go wrong with anything on the menu.
I agree they do need more wines by the glass, but prices are really good so.... :blush:
Oh BTW Cat must be *special* because we didn't get the delicious almonds until we mentioned we had heard about them in a review. They were a gift, but its on the dessert menu 3.00
We got out of there for 52.00 (not including tip of course)
Jill-O and Calabrese snuck up on me while grazing at Alma's stand! Who's following who? :lol:

#28 Jill-O

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:01 AM

Damn, I'm sorry I missed that dinner, Jill! Instead I got to listen to whining about what I had made for dinner. Your evening sounds so much better!!!


We wished you had been there too! We would have loved your company and we could have used the help eating all that food!
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#29 ExtraMSG

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 10:50 PM

Got in to Toro Bravo for an early dinner tonight before they got busy. (And they did get busy.) I like the space. Very cool, red-hued, worn wood floors. Simple interior with maybe 40 seats plus a lot of counter spots, including several facing the open kitchen. Full bar on the left holds most of the other counter spots. Decorated sound dampeners on the walls will hopefully keep the place from getting too loud.

Menu has a lot of dishes (around 40), split into two main sections, pinchos (especially small plates) and tapas (not so small plates), and two more sections, paellas and desserts. Pinchos are just a few bucks, no more than $6, while the tapas all fall under $15 with a lot of dishes under $10. Paellas are the most expensive menu items at just under $20. Here's the menu we got:

PINCHOS

Toasted Almonds with sea salt, $2

Pickled Vegetables & Marinated Olives, $3

Bread with butter and olive oil, $1

Sherry Chicken Liver Mousse with crostini, $5

Chorizo & Manchego with country bread, $6

Pork Rillettes with red wine braised cherries and strong mustard, $5

Marinated Sheep’s Cheese with harissa and mint, $5

TAPAS

Singing Pig Greens with grilled asparagus, chopped eggs and hazelnuts, $8

Radicchio Salad with green olive toast and manchego vinaigrette, $7

Spring Vegetable Soup with poached egg, $6

Potatoes Bravas, $6

Tortilla Espanola, $5

Fennel & Tomato Braised Artichokes with aioli, $6

Grilled Spring Onions with Salbitxba, $5

Sauteed Spring Peas with jamon and mint, $5

Salt Cod Fritters with aioli, $7

Boquerones with Toasted Bread and piperade, $6

Salmon Terrine With Creme Fraiche Butter and Pea Shoot Salad, $9

Meatballs with tomato-almond sauce and favas, $7

Crab & Pork Croquettes With salsa verde and roja, $7

Griddle Shrimp with Chilies, $9

Seared Scallops with romesco, $10

Clams with Toasted Semolina and salsa verde, $8

Sauteed Skate Wing with brown butter, preserved lemon, olives, capers, roasted garlic and chilies, $12

Roasted Eggplant with sweet pepper lamb ragu and Mahon cheese, $9

Honey & Apricot Braised Lamb with couscous, $14

Jamon Wrapped Chicken with pisto manchego, $14

House Smoked Coppa Steak with olive oil poached potatoes, chopped olives and Salbitxba, $12

Moorish Lamb Chops with pea shoots, morels and preserved lemon, $14

House Bacon & Manchego Burger with romesco and pickled vegetables, $8

PAELLA

Paella Toro, $18

Fideos with Duck & Clams, $16

SWEETS

Molten Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream, $7

Olive Oil Cake with rhubarb sauce, $6

Ice Cream with Sherry, $4

Chocolate Almonds, $3

Panna Cotta, $6

Cheese Plate, $8

Cheese Plate for two with sherry, $15


It took us a while to decide what and how many dishes to order. My wife was being a little finicky. She's not much for lamb, was bored by the thought of chicken, and wasn't interested in most of the seafood choices. So I ordered: pork rilletes, marinated sheep's cheese, sauteed spring peas, crab & pork croquettes, sauteed skate wing, and moorish lamb chops. The chef also brought out an extra dish of the fried anchovies.

The rich, shredded pork for the rilletes was served in a ramekin. The cherries were to one side, the mustard to the other. Behind were three long slices of toasted baguette. They all tasted great alone and together. The mustard is a bit strong. Very little of it goes a LONG ways. The cherries were fantastic, darkly sweet with just a little tartness, perfect for the rich, flavorful pork.

The creamy and tangy sheep's cheese was lovely, served with two nice slices of quality bread. The cheese was bathed in a rich and slightly spicy marinade dominated by the heady harissa. Very nice balance. It was a little spicy, but I could still taste the complexity of the cheese.

The whole peas were still crisp, nicely seasoned, and a perfect match for the tasty chunks of ham. The mint added a subtle aroma and flavor. I actually would have liked a little more of the mint.

The croquettes were crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, with plenty of shredded crab and diced ham. Good balance. The salsa on the side added a nice sharp contrast to cut through the rich and sweet croquettes. Lots of onion, olive oil, tomato, capers, and some parsley, I think. It tasted like the oil may have been accented with a fish oil, perhaps tuna oil. If so, nice touch.

The sauteed skate wing fell a little flatter than the other dishes, although it was still decent. I tend to like my fish a little firm, undercooked if anything. This was on the edge of being mushy. The brown butter could have been browner and nuttier. The accompaniments -- the various olives, the capers, the roasted garlic (which I'm still belching up), and especially the ultra-red, slightly sweet and spicy chilies -- tasted great on their own and together with skate. In fact, the skate was underseasoned without them. Problem was that because they were all whole and the olives not pitted, it was difficult to eat them with the skate. A salsa with those same ingredients would have worked better, I think. But the idea was a good one.

The lamb chops (two of them) were terrific. They had nice grill marks and were nicely caramelized, crusted with whole cumin seed which added a sweet and earthy aroma. They were cooked rare, very tender and juicy. Loved them. The pea greens were just cooked, still a bit toothsome, or even raw with a light dressing. The morels and lemon on the side were very good, but there was only a spoonfull of them. Not enough to really be a direct accompaniment to the chops, just something else to taste.

Five or more whole anchovies came piled on top of a thick, orange chili sauce. Thin slices of crispy-fried lemon and fennel were heaped on the anchovies. The anchovies were lightly battered and fried so that everything was crunchy and edible (though I skipped the heads). The chili sauce was earthy, perhaps dried or roasted chilies, and balanced well by the slightly tart lemon chips. The fennel was mostly just flavorless, perhaps a little bitter. I'd say it was unnecessary, though it didn't really hurt the dish. I love crunchy.

For dessert we got both the panna cotta and the olive oil cake. The panna cotta comes in a tall ramekin covered with macerated strawberries. The texture was more like a pudding or pot de creme. I don't imagine that it would hold its shape if it was turned out on a plate. Not that that's bad. The creamy panna cotta was extremely smooth. The strong vanilla flavor rounded out the syrupy, tart strawberries.

The olive oil cake was tender, moist, and a little dense. It would have been crumbly if it wasn't so moist. The cake itself was almost savory which balanced out the intensely sugary and tangy rhubarb sauce.

Meal was very good, most things perfectly executed. Nice place, service was attentive throughout. Dinner was a good value at only $60 for everything minus the anchovies. And we were stuffed afterwards. Another great mid-priced place to open recently along with Country Cat and Clyde Common. This should really put the pressure on more expensive places to produce better and/or more consistent food. Good for Portland.

Toro Bravo
120 NE Russell Street
Portland, OR 97212
503.281.4464
http://www.torobravopdx.com

Photos:

http://www.extramsg....=view_album.php

Sheep's Cheese
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Lamb Chops
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The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#30 Amanda

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 06:11 AM

WOW!

Looks and sounds delightful!

Best regards,

Amanda

#31 Jill-O

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 06:17 AM

Next time you go, if it is on the menu, convince Lisa to get the jamon-wrapped chicken...it's fabulous. I love this place and we are going again very soon.

Damn, I'm even tempted to get the lamb chops they look so freakin' good...did I just say that?! ;o)
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#32 Calabrese

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 06:47 AM

Damn, I'm even tempted to get the lamb chops they look so freakin' good...did I just say that?! ;o)



Ha. I will hold you to that. I knew enough good lamb would change your mind.

#33 tammi

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 06:55 AM

Next time you go, if it is on the menu, convince Lisa to get the jamon-wrapped chicken...it's fabulous. I love this place and we are going again very soon.

Damn, I'm even tempted to get the lamb chops they look so freakin' good...did I just say that?! ;o)

I couldn't agree more with you Jill-O. Last time I ate there I even got one to go so I could eat it for breakfast!

#34 Jill-O

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 06:13 PM

OK, tonight's meal was a perfect 10.

Started with the pork rillettes - a great combo of flavors with the mustard and wine braised cherries. We then had the crab and pork croquettes which were fabulous - very crabby with bits of pork and perfectly fried, not greasy at all. We had spring peas with jamon and mint, and a special of grilled asparagus with house smoked bacon along with the Moorish lamb chops (they were delicious!) with pea shoots, morels and preserved lemon and a house smoked coppa steak (from the shoulder) with olive oil poached potatoes, chopped olives, carmelized onions and saltbitxada.

The asparagus was delicious and the ham steak was absolutely amazing...roll-your-eyes-up-in-your-head good. I didn't even need the steak knife to cut it, it was so tender and delicious.

We had a pitcher of red sangria ($15 for the pitcher we got 4 glasses out of vs. $6 for a glass) that was very good - not too sweet, as many sangrias can be. We had some chocolate almonds (not too sweet or chocolate-y, actually, but addictively good) while we waited for our molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert. The molten chocolate cake was one of the best I have ever had - rich, chocolate-y and fabulous.

All of this was $74 (would have been $59 without the sangria) and it was a great meal. Gabriela, our server, was terrific - she cleared plates as needed, kept the water pitcher filled, was helpful with advice on what to order (she suggested the coppa steak and, wow, was she ever right) and was very pleasant. Courtney is doing as good a job in the FOH as John is in the BOH.

FYI other things on the menu this time that were not there last time or when Zuke was there (the menu changes with whatever John can source):

fried fresh anchovies with fennel and lemon; spring onion soup w/fried bread; seafood stew with pastis, mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops; the coppa steak (described above); grilled lamb ribs with honey and mint glaze.

FYI, the skate wing is off the menu now.

We got there around 5:15pm and it was empty, but by the time we left at around 6:30 or so, it was starting to fill up. John said he is doing about 100 covers a night...and they have only been open about 2 weeks! This place is gonna get busier and busier as it gets the raving reviews it deserves...so go early... and, since the menu constantly changes, go often!
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#35 ExtraMSG

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 06:29 PM

fried fresh anchovies with fennel and lemon


They had them:

Posted Image

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#36 Calabrese

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 06:42 PM

I just want to say that tonight's dinner was 5 Bravos. I appreciated a lot of the little touches.

The salsa (tomatoes, mint, capers, onions, evoo) accompaniment with the croquettes really set off the richness of the crab and pork.

The sides with the lamb worked to counter the small amount of lamb gaminess (which I like but some others don't).

I have drunk and made a fair amount of sangria in my life. Theirs is great and just the thing for a hot day like today.

And I appreciate wait staff who are willing to make recommendations.

All the food was really good and some was excellent. Service was great. And they've been open two weeks. They've hit their mark early. I know I will be back here again and again. Of the new places I have been to recently, this is for sure my favorite.

Hey Tammi, we missed you tonight. :(

#37 Angelhair

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 07:01 AM

Great report Jill-O and Calabrese. You have me salivating to go there very soon!

#38 tammi

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 08:46 AM

Sorry to have missed you guys too! I'll be there this week at least once! :w00t:
Great report!

#39 chefken

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 04:45 PM

Ken's Place is history as of 3:00 today...the check is in my pocket...We're going there tonight!
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#40 Cat Lancaster

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 05:10 PM

Ken's Place is history as of 3:00 today...the check is in my pocket...We're going there tonight!


Report back!

John DePaula and friends, Tammi & her friend and myself all ate there last night. The food, the wine and the company were ALL perfect.

Cat
"travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness" ~ Mark Twain

"I'm not a picky eater, but I'm picky about what I eat." ~ Me