El Toro, roughly translated as ‘the bull’ is the bonafide tapas restaurant in Mumbai and is based on the Spanish concept of serving small portions of food. Chef Onkar guided us through the concept of Tapas and why he came to love it. “With tapas, you can experience various dishes, flavours and textures whereas with large portions one tends to feel full in a few dishes.” The dining experience truly changes due to this concept and here’s our experience of the bull of Bandra – El Toro!
“The playlist is specially curated after a lot of research in classic and modern music. The tunes that you hear in the evening are different than those played after 10 PM,” chef Onkar tells us while talking about the restaurant’s Spanish authenticity. The glass walls lets you have a view of the street and you can see the variety of microgreens grown by the chef to be used in the food.
The lighting is elegant and classy with the walls depicting artwork that transports you from the hustle bustle of Bandra to a diner in Spain. The bar is well lit and you can overlook your drinks being made and getting ready to be served.
The first tapas we tried at El Toro was Carpaccio of Beet with Feta Cheese. A carpaccio is an Italian dish usually made with thinly sliced meat and served as an appetizer. Here we had a fabulous vegetarian version of Carpaccio. Delicate and exquisite, this tapas absolutely sings on your taste buds. The flavour of the marinade, finely sliced beetroots, crumbly feta topped with a drizzle of truffle oil marry to make the perfect start to a great meal. Pair this gorgeous salad with a glass of red wine sangria and you’re off to a great start.
Creamy, flavourful and simply delicious, La Mancha Mushrooms are an absolute delight when paired with a glass of Agua de Valencia. The fresh mushrooms, the subtle flavours of thyme and garlic go beautifully together with the red wine reduction of the dish. “I love cooking with alcohol and use wine a lot while cooking,” said Chef Onkar while talking to us about his passion for food.
The next tapas we tried was an absolute smacker. Berenjenas a la Parilla is grilled aubergine topped with garlic cream cheese and spiced smoked salsa. Soft, delicious and melt in the mouth, this tapas goes perfect with a glass of red. The spicy kick from the salsa paired with the cheese makes it a dish which when paired with all the right flavours make it outstanding.
When it comes to Spanish cuisine, how can we forget the classic, Patata Bravas? A popular dish known for its crispy potatoes was served at El Toro with in-house tomato sauce and sour crème. It was a lip-smacking tapas and a must have when you’re planning to have a few rounds of beer with your food.
We also tried their crispy and crunchy Calamares Fritos which were served with a delicious sweet chilli dip. Well cooked, crusty batter fried calamari that goes even better with the sweet and spicy dip was the perfect fried snack you could ask for with a malt. Those who can’t resist eggs with their drinks should definitely go for their Spanish Chorizo Omelette which is a delight to eat when paired with one of their signature cocktails.
Turkish Chicken with Hummus was a tapas for those who love experimenting with food but want to stick to familiar flavours. Succulent and excellently made chicken tapas with some amazing flavours of the marinade blended perfectly with the hummus and the crisps on the side.
Ending the meal on a sweet note we tried Baked Yoghurt with dehydrated strawberries and it was an amazing experience. The yoghurt baked in an earthen bowl topped with strawberries was a deadly delicious combination.
The second dessert we tried was the Dark Chocolate Mousse which was served with a short pastry crumb and candied orange. For those seeking out for an eggless dessert or not, this was an absolute stunner. The candied oranges add a zest to the light mousse that lingers in your mouth indicating the end of an awesome meal.