We were recently invited to check out Richard Sandoval’s “pan Latin steakhouse” Toro Toro in the heart of downtown Washington, DC.
The atmosphere is lounge-esq without being too loud or clubby, which is often a problem with central downtown DC places trying to standout. The decor is very Latin steakhouse: meaning leather, high backed chairs, lots of dead animal hides, very cool indeed and certainly not lacking in attractiveness.
To start, grab one of their great cocktails. We went with a Passion Fruit Pisco Sour with Pisco Capel, passion fruit puree, lemon juice, egg whites, simple syrup and bitters. Certainly packed a sour punch this drink is known for. Very refreshing.
Or a Carnaval which is their spin on the classic Old Fashioned. Their version has Rye Whiskey, cherry liqueur, Lillet Blanc and orange bitters. Recommend ordering light on the liquer as this drink can easily get too sweet – that is if you like ’em strong.
We must admit mixed feelings with the start of the meal, but were blown away by the end with amazing meats and the best ice cream dessert in Washington, DC. Period.
To start, we ordered a Wagyu beef carpaccio that unfortunately tasted a bit past it’s prime, and had us finishing our cocktails. The portions were so thinly sliced they immediately fell apart and the salad ontop was far too plentiful and overpowering with acid.
The Ceviche Nikkei which boasted ahi tuna, ponzu, cucumber, avocado, quinoa, and sweet potato was lacking the main ingredient, however when found was quite bright and delicious. A few tweaks with the ratio of ingredients will make this a stand out starter for sure.
A crunchy, salty snack came in the form of Spanish Ham Croquettes. Crispy, hot, fried chorizo balls more than ham made us wish we had a cold beer and a football game on in front of us.
Delight came last in the form of the braised short rib arepas. Rather than stuffed, these were listed as being topped with tender chunks of beef, hoisin sauce, achiote, guacamole, serrano ham and crema. However we were missing the serrano ham on ours, and the menu didn’t mention the jalepeno slice on top. While restaurants should stay true to their menu listings, or explain it to their diners, this was completely okay. The spice from the pepper balanced the sweetness from the hoisin and perfectly. Further the ham would not have added anything to this dish and in fact would have taken away from the nice balance it achieved. The arepa itself was light and perfectly crispy on the outside. These were great.
Perfection and satisfaction came in the form of meat. Being billed as a steakhouse one would expect quality and perfectly cooked proteins, however the mixed start to the evening had us (briefly and wrongly) questioning. The currasco skewer made for two (but could have fed three) is a combination of fire grilled meats carved table-side and then placed on a hot skillet, drizzled with oil (or butter, unclear) and topped with flaky salt.
Complete with Brazilian-style Picanha steak, chorizo, Colorado lamb chops, and achiote marinaded chicken was amazing. The chicken was out of this world tender with a sweetness unknown to most poultry. The steak was perfectly cooked and the lamb was tender with no gaminess to be found. We’d be re-missed if we did not point out the very helpful sommelier who guided us through a very diverse and unfamiliar wine list to provide a perfect accompaniment for our meats. Thank you!
The wild mushrooms and charred brocollini were delicious as well. However we’d ask for no salt next time as merely a personal preference – pro-tip to those who may be salt conscious as well.
We had no idea the best was yet to come. Dessert!
At the insistence of our waiter (thank you!) the La Bomba came out. This is a visual and interactive experience my friends. This is also worth coming here just for a bottle (or two) of wine and dessert or a celebration for a birthday, etc. It starts with the waiter laying down a protection sheet of plastic over the table, so you know something awesome is about to happen. He then brings out a edible chocolate bowl filled with cream cheese mousse, passionfruit sorbet, chocolate cookie crumbs, strawberries & cream, dulce de leche ice cream, mixed berries and edible flowers.
After he gets your attention he THROWS THE ENTIRE BOWL UP IN THE AIR AND IT CRASHES AND SHATTERS ON YOUR TABLE! It’s then topped with caramel sauce and a vanilla bean cream anglaise sauce. It’s whimsical, fun, entertaining, and holy sh!t delicious.
We were literally stuffed after our meal, didn’t want dessert, and only left a few small pieces of the chocolate bowl as we devoured this entire dish.