TORO + KO
Place: City Walk, Dubai
AED 325 (Inclusive of Soft Drinks)
AED 450 (Inclusive of House Beverages)
AED 550 (Inclusive of Bubbly)
“A beber y a tragar, que el mundo se va a acabar.” (Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die)- Spanish Proverb
Toro + Ko is a high-end Barcelona-style tapas restaurants that serves both traditional and modern Spanish-style small plates. It is the fourth branch of the same brand, which launched in Boston and then expanded in New York and Bangkok.
The restaurant is located in the Square, City Walk. It is adjacent to the only two other licensed restaurants in the area: Lima, and Galvin.
For starters, we are served the following cold appetizers, to share (Unlimited)
- Embutidos y Quesos- Cold cuts and cheese: top quality beef cold cuts and machego cheese
- Pan De Cristal AMB- Catalan style bread served with a tomato salsa
Followed by the hot appetizers:
- Patatas Bravas – Fried potatoes with a tomato sauce and aioli. This dish is the first thing that’s pops into my mind when I think of tapas. I really enjoyed Toro’s version
- Croquetas de Pollo Ahumado- smoked chicken croquettes. The chicken was juicy and croquette light and crispy. But I personally did not enjoy the smokey flavors.
- Croqetas de Setas- mushroom croquettes. Simply delicious!
- Tortilla Espanola- Spanish omelet. Another very classic tapa. I’ve had much better versions
- Maiz Asado- grilled corn sprinkled with aioli, lime, and cheese. Simple but tasty.
For Main course, we got to select 4 portions of paella and share 4 grilled tenderloins
- Paella: Choose from 3 options Paella Marisco, Paella Valenciana, and Paella Huerta Con Azafran. We opted for two of the Marisco and two of the Valenciana. The Marisco came with lobster, prawns, mussels, calamari and clams. The Valenciana came with chicken, rabbit, artichokes, and white beans. Both were delicious and easily the best Paella currently on offer in the city.
- Tenderloin- we ordered two medium and two medium rare. Good quality meat that disappeared off the plate fast.
Mains are served with 4 side dishes that were:
- Roasted Potatoes
- Charred Onion
- Padron Peppers
The Beverage options are as follows:
- Beer: Estrella
- Wines: House Red- Graffigna Centenario Malbec, Argentina 2015
House White- Sangre De Toro Verdejo, Spain 2016
- Spirits: (Gin, Rum, Vodka, Whiskey, Tequila).
- Cocktails: none!?
Both the white and red wine options were superb, with the Malbec easily ranked as the best red I’ve drank at a brunch. I cannot express how disappointed I was that Toro did not offer cocktails; there is simply no excuse for that.
Sadly it appears the City Walk restaurants are currently unable to attract substantial traffic as Toro (plus neighboring Lima & Galvin) were more than 90% empty. Given the enormous size of the restaurants, it creates an unwanted ‘ghost town’ ambiance. The reasons behind this could come down to multiple factors including price point, location, and competition. Personally whenever reminisce on having Tapas in Barcelona I think of small and super crowded tapas bars, with delicious looking tapas displayed on the counters, people standing up enjoying their tapas and drinks, and people enjoying all random conversations happening around them. Perhaps Toko can work on replicating that atmosphere, and thereby offering an authentic and worthwhile experience?
The restaurant was sadly 90% empty, no music or entertainment. A live Spanish band or DJ is expected as the bare minimum.
Point deducted due to the mysterious absence of cocktails. The red wine is easily the best I’ve had at a brunch.
The majority of dishes make the marks, with a few of the dishes rated average, The a la carte menu has plenty of interesting dishes to replace the less impressive ones.
Excellent and efficient service.
Value for Money: 14/20.
Priced at AED 450, the brunch is expensive despite offering high quality food. Cocktails need to be introduced into the package, and plenty of effort into ambiance and entertainment.