Not too many Mumbai restaurants offer Tapas, and the ones that do, don’t do justice to this Spanish specialty. That’s where El Toro—Cantina Tapas and Bar, is trying to step in. Chef and owner Onkar Samarth is hands-on and has chosen a location like Bandra, which is bustling with several eateries, pubs and bars that offer varied cuisines.
El Toro's decor is minimalistic, yet classy enough for a date night. The place has the feel of your friendly neighbourhood café with a bar, sans the hustle-bustle; and offers Spanish, Italian and Middle East cuisine.
We started off with the drink of the day, Agua De Valencia, a popular Spanish drink. We must admit that it was a perfect blend of white wine and orange juice, garnished with fresh citrusy fruits—a refreshing way to kickstart the evening. What followed was the potato and leek soup served with crispy potato chips, which was what made us take notice—the chips were made of potato starch, and the soup was creamy, delicate and laced with thread-like slices of leeks. While we were savouring the soup, the appetisers made their way to our table in quick fashion.
The Carpaccio of beet with feta cheese was a delight for our eyes as well as for our taste buds. Each flavour was well accentuated and we polished it off in no time. The surprise element were the peanuts—fresh and crunchy, delivering the right texture to the Carpaccio.
An outing to a tapas bar would be incomplete without digging into Patatas Bravas, a native dish from Spain. Made of fried potatoes and served with a tomato-based sauce and sour cream on top, this dish was perfect to the T.
The La Mancha Mushrooms with red wine reduction and loads of cheese had a subtle, but beautiful hint of garlic and thyme that uplifted the dish. The Croquestas Ibericas was sinful with every bite—oodles of cheese and minced ham that came together well. The best part: it wasn't oily at all, unlike croquettes we have tried at other restaurants.
After having our fair share from the tapas bar, we moved straight to dessert. We tried El Toro’s most-talked about Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel and white chocolate ice cream. The moment we took our first bite, we knew why this dessert was the favourite with the patrons. The first unique thing was the accompanying ice cream, it was rich and textured white chocolate. The sprinkle of sea salt cut the extreme sweetness of the caramel. And, the pudding is baked to perfection. Altogether, the perfect components came together to form an invincible dessert. A big thumbs up!
The Pimentos Rellenos Con Tres Quesos (baked Indian chillies stuffed with three cheeses—Machengo, Red Leicester and cottage cheese, and drizzled with Balsamic reduction) was too sour for us and failed to impress our palette. Perhaps an jalapeno lover may beg to differ.
The Turkish chicken hummus is presented very well, but the first piece of chicken we bit into was too hard for us, the odd one out from the other pieces that were cooked well. But we saw plenty of potential in this dish and it could be one of their star dishes if it was cooked consistently.
Overall, El Toro has a good variety of flavours and that's exactly what a tapas menu should have. So we give it a 4 on 5.
Where: 7/8, lane, Opp Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai, ONGC Colony, Bandra West
Wallet alert: ₹2,000 for two people (approx) with alcohol