If there’s a restaurant group that loves steakhouses, it’s Dining Concepts. The group’s latest offering is Toro Steak House and Gastro Bar, located on the alfresco rooftop of Elements mall.
Helmed by Mexican-born celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, Toro describes its cuisine as pan-Latin American, with a focus on steak and small sharing plates. Looking at the menu, you can clearly see influences from many Latin American countries, including Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Argentina (sadly no Venezuelan influences though…!).
Downstairs, Toro is a casual gastro bar with al fresco dining, lively Latin music and a very relaxed vibe. Upstairs is much more elegant, with dark leather chairs, marble tables, wrought iron fixtures and wooden horns adorning the walls; in case you hadn’t worked it out yet, ‘toro’ means ‘bull’ in Spanish.
Whilst we waited for our starters, we were served some delicious pao de queijo with a black bean dip to nibble on. Intrigued by the fact that there was sushi on the menu, we then started the meal proper with some ‘angry tuna rolls’. Given the strong Japanese influence in Peru, I have had a fair bit of Japanese-inspired Peruvian cuisine. These rolls, however, with chipotle rouille could have been a little bit Mexican. Either way, they were delicious, with a nice little kick.
The carne asada tacos were also very tasty. The beef, marinated in achiote, was wonderfully tender, which contrasted nicely with the crispy shallots. Although the guacamole enhanced the flavour, it was a little cold, which made the whole dish a bit cold, considering it was supposed to be a ‘hot starter.’
Moving onto the mains, we obviously had to try some steak, so we went for the smallest one on the menu, the 8oz fillet mignon from Argentina. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare with a nice char on the outside, there was little to fault. The accompanying horseradish, chimichurri and barbecue sauce weren’t anything to write home about, but thankfully the steak on its own was good enough.
Instead of the sauces, we paired our steak with a side of grilled avocado. Avocado is one of my favourite things, so I was intrigued about trying it grilled. Unfortunately it was hardly grilled at all, bar a little tiny bit around the edges, but served with corn salsa and pico de gallo it was nonetheless delicious.
The achiote-barbecued salmon with chayote slaw was not exactly what we were expecting. The salmon had actually been poached first, leaving it wonderfully tender and pink in the centre. A red achiote sauce, seasoned with cinnamon and cloves was then poured over it, giving it a lovely fragrant aroma and taste. A subtle smoky flavour gave the suggestion that the fish had been barbecued, but I felt it could have also had a bit more of a char to it.
Another side dish of “corn off the cob” with chipotle mayo and cotija cheese was initially forgotten by the waiters. When it eventually came, it had a lovely flavour, but was a little too watery. To top it off, when we checked the bill, we were somehow overcharged for this dish!
To finish, we shared the molten abuelita chocolate cake. The centre was perfectly oozetastic, but this wasn’t your average chocolate fondant; even this had its own Latin twist, sprinkled in cinnamon and served with pistachio crème anglaise and hibiscus flower sauce. It wasn’t as good as the cakes my abuelita used to make, but it was nevertheless very tasty.
Given that Toro is a Dining Concepts restaurant, we came to expect a relatively high bill; after sorting out the accidental overcharge, the total bill came to just over $1250 for two, including two glasses of Malbec and very poor service. If Toro were located a little closer to home, I would most likely return for some decent steak and unique sharing dishes. Since it’s not, however, it might be some time before I revisit.
Toro Steak House and Gastro Bar
Shop R008, Civic Square
1 Austin Road West
Tel: +852 2696 9608