I have to admit that having travelled throughout Spain, my expectations were pretty high for Torito, 276 Augusta Avenue. I mean really, can you compare snacking on tapas in a plaza in Madrid to doing so in Kensington Market in Toronto? I am happy to report that minus the wafts of cigarette smoke and frantic fan waving, yes you can.
I was impressed by the authenticity of both the wine list and the menu. All wines are of the Spanish variety, including your usual offering of Sangria, Cava and San Miguel beer. Ole!
While we started on our pitcher of white Sangria, we began perusing the menu. Although somewhat small, the list is complete with both cold and hot tapas and a couple of desserts.
Excitement ensued, we started ordering and we didn’t stop until we were so stuffed and full of regret after ordering what must have been our eighth dish (keep in mind that there were only two of us).
What I like about tapas is that there is no huge commitment. You can experiment without having to consume an eight ounce portion of something that you just learned you don't like. This is what happened when I ordered the quail ($12). It sounded nice with its pomegranate glaze but no gracias. I felt like I was eating a pigeon, a dirty pigeon, like the kind that fly around the Yonge and Dundas Square. Everything else was delightfully delish.
The ceviche with corn and yams ($10) had a wonderful texture. The chorizo and patatas bravas ($9) was also quite good but then again who in their right mind doesn't like sausage and potatoes? The chorizo was a tad over cooked but had a nice, slightly spicy flavour. The tomato puree that sat in the bottom of the plate was so concentrated that you felt like you were sitting a bushel. I was glad to see that the aioli was light instead of the sickening mayo concoction it usually is. You must try the gazpacho ($8). The only way to describe it is that it tasted like summer. Somehow they put the season in a bowl and that's impressive. But, if I had to insist on one dish it would be the Piquillo peppers stuffed with salted cod ($9). The peppers bursted with flavour and the cod, although salted, had a mild taste and a smooth and velvety consistency.We didn't order dessert but they have three to choose from.
Overall, we ate well, we certainly drank well, we reminisced about our time in Spain, we sang Gypsy Kings songs and when the waiter wasn't around we pretended to order our next dish in Spanish.
Yes, we really did.