Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Cut the bulls**t – Get to El Toro

So things are not as bad as I initially thought. My first fears of slumping into some deep, dark depression have not materialised. Boredom has not struck. Nor has starvation, homelessness or enforced sobriety.

Far from it. I am actually liking my life at the moment. I am busy with voluntary work, studying and applying for jobs. Obviously this blog and my foodie exploits also give me something to do. Looking to the future is scary, so I try not to do it too often. What will be, will be. Que Sera Sera and all that. In the meantime, I have to make the most of my time off, and don’t you worry… I am making the most of it.  

In the past Sunday afternoons were reserved for work preparations; no doubt yours still are. Washing, ironing, cleaning etc. Sorry(!), but now I have all week to do these things so Sundays can be enjoyed again! And on this particular Sunday we decided that a bit of a walk was in order, so we ventured up to Broomhill.  We initially wanted to eat at The York (owned by the Forum/Old House/Common Room guys) after hearing many good things about it, but they were only serving their Sunday Dinner menu with some of their standard main dishes and we were after something lighter so we gave El Toro a go.

This has been around for a while, maybe 2-3 years and I have been meaning to visit for a while, but we very rarely go into Broomhill now. Also, we have tapas in town at the fantastic Platillos so such a trip is not necessary. It was very quiet when we entered, which would normally put us off, but the waitress was smiley and friendly so we stayed. It’s quite a small place; cosy. I can imagine it could get pretty lively on an evening, which is perfect for an informal tapas meal. 

The menu was up on blackboards and we made our selection and ordered. The waitress offered to help explain some of the dishes, but we've had tapas before and didn't feel we needed the help. We sat back down and the dishes soon started flying out of the kitchen. 

Sea bass with a passion-fruit sauce was perfectly cooked. The skin was crispy, the flesh soft and moist.  The flavouring was very mild and added a slight sweet taste. It could have done with a bit more of the passion-fruit sauce as if I hadn't been told it was there, I would have never guessed.  Overall, however, it was very enjoyable.

Sea bass
Chickpeas cooked with bacon didn't look so great, but was delicious. The bacon was soft and complemented the chickpeas nicely. I was surprised to find cumin in there as I don’t associate the spice with Spanish food, but it worked.

Chickpeas with bacon

Chorizo with tomato salad was good. The slices of chorizo were thick and tasty. The only disappointment was that the tomatoes were a bit insipid. Such a shame given that this was a tomato salad, but there was plenty of chorizo so no real complaints to be had!

Chorizo and tomato salad
Calamari looked great but was a disappointment for me. A few years ago I fell in love with the calamari at Platillos and since then nothing else has done it for me! Here the squid was a bit tough and the batter was too heavy for me. I also like to have a mayonnaise dip with my calamari. I left this for Gav to finish and he happily obliged, so it obviously must be matter of taste.


Fried aubergines with a tomato dipping sauce were a mixed bag.  The aubergine slices were well cooked; deliciously creamy. However it seemed that the calamari batter had been used for the aubergine too and again it was too heavy for me. The dipping sauce, however, was gorgeous. Rich with tomatoey goodness and chunks of onions. Mmmmm… it was the kind of tomato sauce I aspire to make

Beetroot and Goat’s cheese salad was amazing. The goat’s cheese was the best I had ever tasted. It was creamy, but reasonably firm with the strong flavour that I find missing in some goat’s cheeses. It worked beautifully with the beetroot salad which had some kind of shoots in there as well as lambs lettuce etc.  Lovely!

Goat's cheese and beetroot salad
Everything was light and fresh and we were full, but not stuffed after our meal. We had a lot of salad so this did help. I washed it all down with a pleasant house red; he had coke. All in, the bill was about £36 so this was not a cheap lunch, but tapas never is. It is unlikely that we will go again, as we rarely go to Broomhill, but I would like to try it on an evening.  If you’re in Broomhill, give it a go and have the goat’s cheese salad!

What’s your favourite tapas dish?  More importantly, where do you go for good calamari?


  1. Love it at El Toro - admittedly only been once and it was for the 3 tapas and a glass of wine for a tenner deal but it was delicious! We went for a meringue with fruit anc cream for dessert. Possibly the nicest dessert I have had in a while!

  2. We saw the meringues and they did look pretty good... maybe next time. That offer is still on, but only 6-7 I think. One to bear in mind I think!

  3. I've never been to el toro but I know exactly what you mean about the squid at platillos! MMM

  4. I agree that the 'breadcrumby' batter didn't do the squid or the aubergine justice. It overpowered the delicate flavours. I've done a little research to find out if the batter was a regional thing (the squid was Galician style), but it doesn't seem that it is.

  5. I think El Toro does some of the best tapas I've had outside Spain - it's often quiet when I've been too, which is a shame as I think it deserves a lot more attention than it gets. The fried aubergine was fab last time I had it - shame it wasn't so good for you!

  6. komal - love love love Platillos calamari... just thinking about it makes me droooooool!!!!

    Steel City Kitchen - it is a shame it is quiet. You would think it would do ok in Broomhill. I can imagine it being a nice place to while away a few hours on a evening.