Downtown Miami has a newcomer restaurant that is sleek, modern and stylish. It offers a vast array of Pan Latin dishes and trendy drinks. The Chef is Richard Sandoval who grew up in Mexico City and learned to respect fresh and authentic ingredients from his grandmother. So what is he doing in Miami? We visited his new venture, Toro Toro, to find out.
The venue is definitely sexy with lots of wood everywhere enhanced by gold accents. The bar is just beautiful and elegant. Toro Toro is located inside the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami which is the perfect location to cater to the local business people in the area. We arrived early, around 11:30am for lunch and by the time we left it was packed.
Why not try a signature cocktail? It was lunchtime but we decided to throw caution to the wind. Mine was chosen because of the pretty name: Machu Picchu. It consisted of Pisco Capurro (Capurro is a premium Peruvian pisco with a heritage of over 100 yrs and 5 generations), St. Germain (a sweet liqueur crafted in the artisanal French style from elderberry flowers), lime, grapes and jalapeño. It went down smooth, the flavor well balanced and the jalapeño added a nice kick to it. My dining companion chose Ring my Bell, a concoction made with Herradura Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, lime, bell pepper and rosemary. Who puts bell pepper in a cocktail? Well, it was a great idea as the bell pepper permeated throughout the drink giving it a wonderfully distinctive flavor.
The first appetizer was the Grilled Octopus. It was served with a fingerling potato salad, seasoned with Peruvian adobo, atop a cilantro sauce. The octopus had just the right consistency; the cilantro sauce was the ideal compliment. The potato salad was also very good, particularly to sop up the leftover sauce.
Next came the Ground Lamb Anticucho Skewers. Food on a stick is always fun and anticuchos are small pieces of grilled skewered meat. The anticuchos were served with garlic-yogurt sauce, mint and pickled cucumber. Every bite was enjoyed and quickly disappeared off the plate.
This dish was actually a salad with many components in addition to the tomatoes: burrata, watermelon, hearts of palm, avocado and chipotle vinaigrette. It would have been faultless except that the avocados were way under ripe and under ripe avocados are not exactly pleasant.
The Yuca Fries were plump, crispy, chunky and served with olive oil, lemon and garlic; a nice combination of savory elements. There was leftover garlic-yogurt sauce from the lamb skewers and that made this dish great: maybe an idea for a side sauce for the yuca fries in the future?
Toro Toro Tres Leches cake ($7)
This soaked génoise cake was served with dulce de leche, assorted berries and butter milk ice cream. What an indulgence! This dish would appeal to those who have an especially over-developed sweet tooth.
The minimalist presentation of this dessert was impressive: a thin slice of carrot cake topped with a scoop of carrot ancho sorbet and a dollop of cream cheese foam on the side. The taste was blissful, not too sweet and just plain lip-smacking.
Chef Richard Sandoval and his Chef de Cuisine Rodolfo Cuadros, are striving to make Toro Toro “a must-try dining destination in Miami”. It indeed has many of the elements to achieve this: a good-looking venue, a varied menu that includes many cuts of steaks, a cool vibe, a broad offering of cocktails, great service. The restaurant does have some kinks to work out though. The prices can be steep as everything is à la carte so all items on the menu should be close to perfection.
Would I return? Yes, but next time I will try even more of a variety of dishes.
Toro Toro Restaurant
100 Chopin Plaza,
Miami, FL 33131
By Contributor Writer and Photographer Brenda Benoit