Having spent a lot of time in South America, and being a lover of all things Latino (the language, the music, the food, the hunky men…), I couldn’t wait to tuck into the tasty treats at Toro Toro. Meaning ‘bull’ in Spanish, it’s the creation of South American celebrity chef, Richard Sandoval, who takes you on a journey to the heart of Latin America in just a mouthful. Perched on the edge of Dubai Marina, the restaurant is the perfect setting for a date-night dinner. Or, if I had it my way, it’s the perfect setting for breakfast, lunch, dinner and maybe a few empanada snacks thrown in!
There’s no doubt that this place is super cool from the moment you arrive. The design is minimalist and the lighting is low (seriously flattering, especially if your little ones have kept you up for the few nights before), and dotted around South American touches – bull horns on the walls and animal motifs, rich textures, dark charcoal walls, hints of burnt orange, leather furniture and natural sculptures. It’s also warm and inviting, and you’re also welcomed by a wall of fire that stretches from floor to ceiling. Seriously impressive.
We started our evening with a cocktail upstairs in the lively bar area, where a DJ spins South American inspired beats as you sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere. The drinks menu is bursting with options, from rums and Cachaça to the finest tequilas. The Café Quemado is the perfect pick-me-up (coffee flavoured rum, coffee and vanilla syrup), or for something a bit more refreshing, the Cuzo is to die for (Pisco, cucumber, basil, lime juice and sugar).
But be sure to save room for a classic Caipirinha (Cachaça, lime and sugar), as when you venture downstairs for dinner, you’ll be visited by the Caipirinha man who wheels over a drinks station to make them to order. Yes, that’s right – a Caipirinha trolley. What more could you possibly want! Oh and not forgetting the open wine cellar that boats over 100 South American vinos to choose from, with almost all of them exclusive to Toro Toro. Needless to say by this point I was in heaven!
And that’s without mentioning the food…oh the food. This is where Toro Toro really stole my Latino loving heart. The concept here is all about sharing (which you won’t want to do once you’ve taken a bite) so we tucked into an array of small plates. From fresh fish ceviche (the scallops and prawns in lime juice and chile verde are amazing) to heartier dishes like the melt-in-your-mouth lamb shank with adobo sauce, potato puree and chili chimichurri, to the Chorizo Empanadas. Even thinking about it now makes my mouth water, I wanted to cry when it was all over! Of course, we had to save room for dessert and the Chocolate Fondant Cake with blood orange, vanilla ice cream and orange segments ticks all the right boxes. Warm, gooey chocolate burst out of a light sponge, with a hint of fruitiness and a creamy hit of vanilla. Perfection.
After that, we went back up to the bar where the music was turned up, the lights were turned down and the party vibe picked up – complete with a bartender-cum-fire eater who kept us amazed and entertained with her flame throwing tricks. From the food and drink to the atmosphere and setting, there’s only one word to describe Toro Toro – delicioso.
Toro Toro, Tower Two, Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina, 04 317 6000, www.torotoro-dubai.com