I might be in Arabia, but my stomach remains faithfully South of the Border
You all know I love food, and Mexican is probably my most favorite food on this planet. There aren’t too many Mexican restaurants that are tasty in the UAE, so I have expanded my palate to include all the spicy flavors served south of the United States. Thankfully, Toro Toro Friday Brunch is here to pique everyone’s Latin palate, and it’s great for carnivores. Vegetarians do call ahead and make yourself known.
There’s a brand new brunch to add to your brunch bucket list. Toro Toro, the capital’s newest Latin hotspot, is throwing its Panama hat into the mix, and we have high expectations for it.
The stylish restaurant is located in the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers and serves Richard Sandoval’s signature spicy pan-Latin/South American fusion.
Brunchers can choose between tables inside or outside with a stunning view of the capital waterfront. We’ve been to Toro Toro Abu Dhabi before by night but never by day. It’s bright and airy. Sadly, it’s too breezy to sit outside so we are seated in the dining room.
The layout of the brunch is a bit funny, but we adapt quickly to its self-service drink model with a little assistance from the friendly staff. In the past, the service has been a little dicey, but today the staff is out in full.
The drink selection seemed sparse: an array of self-service white and red wine sangrias and Mexican beers. Apparently, you could ask your server for other drinks from the bar, but we didn’t get the memo. We weren’t displeased with the white sangria which was light and refreshing and our tee-totaling companions were thrilled with a coconut mocktail, which was beautifully garnished with wildflowers.
Though the drinks are self-service, the food is brought to your table, and it seemingly never, ever stops coming until the end. For starters, we noshed on Sandoval’s signature smoked guacamole, and it’s always a hit. Spicy, smoky and toothsome, this guac makes this avocado dip so much more than the sum of its piquant parts.
In addition to guac, the star of the starters, there was a delicious array of savory hot and cold bites. The highlights included the seafood ceviche, the LomoSaitado empanada (beef), wild mushroom flatbread, chicken Antichucho (chicken skewers served dramatically on hot coals). The Toro Toro salad and cornbread were a touch too sweet as were most of the dishes that were more suitable for vegetarians.
The Main Event
Before you can even loosen your belts, the table begins to swell with a carnivorous feast ranging from achiote-marinated chicken to lamb chops, rib eye steak, prawns and something referred to as picanha, which we think were barbequed beef cubes drawn served table-side by a server straight off the skewer as were the prawns. Note the tastiest bits were served rather parsimoniously.
The sides included sweet potato fries, with the emphasis on sweet. Think churros Mexican-spiced donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar — yes, like too sweet. The Quinoa salad was also, you guessed it, too sweet. The spicy cauliflower, marked with a “V” ran the risk of being devoured by the carnivores so many times that I had to covet one all to myself. This spicy main almost made up for the lack of other vegetarian options.
We, a table of six with four devout carnivores, one who dabbles and one vegetarian, could barely finish half of the food.
We then capped off the feast with an enormous dessert course of decadent cheesecake, tres leches cake and fruit platter. The plating was lovely and the piquant scoops of fruit sorbets were a cool delight after a waistline-bursting feast.
Toro Toro Friday Brunch: The Takeaway
This brunch is not cheap. We would have preferred drink service to self-serve. We would have loved to have been made aware if it were available along. That was an aberration to the otherwise faultless service, which was fabulous and indeed never stopped until the clock struck four.
In fairness, I didn’t call ahead to let the restaurant know that I am a vegetarian. Toro Toro brunch is not an easy landscape for vegetarians. But, if you dig your meat, run, do not walk to Toro Toro Friday Brunch. If you are vegetarian, do let them know; you will be grateful you did.
Toro Toro Friday Brunch is ready to cook up a storm every Friday so get in there and give it a try. I’d love to know what you think.
Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs445 (house beverages and mixed drinks), Dhs545 (bubbly).
Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, West Corniche (02 811 5882).