tapas in oslo

March 24, 2009

toro

I am not quite sure what to think of the restaurant that Special K and I went to before Christmas. So i think I’ll just tell you what happened and you can decide for yourselves.

We had decided on tapas and choose Toro Toro as I hadn’t been there before. Our suspicions should maybe have been raised when we spied the fireplace playing on the TV, or when the (authentic) Spanish waiter seemed quite astonished when we indicated we wanted to order some food. The menu wasn’t huge but adequate and we chose a mix of veggie, fish and meat tapas.

Our drinks – a perfectly serviceable red wine – came quickly,  as did the food, though this requires rather more clarification. I suppose my main issue with Toro Toro’s tapas was the wildly varying quality. For example: great olives (harder than you might think to source). Good (but not amazing) Serrano ham, but light, perfectly seasoned deep-fried calamari. The grilled shrimp were full of finger-lickin’, garlicky flavour.

But then there was the slightly odd. The aioli seemed to have more than a passing resemblance to sandwich spread, and the dip for the patatas bravas (in themselves alright) was simply unidentifiable. The bizarre artichoke hearts in blue cheese were a step further along the oddness scale. We thought the chef might have known something we didn’t in combining the two, but sadly, he didn’t.

Finally, definitely terrible was the sorry excuse for Spanish tortilla that was put on our table, soggy and mushy in the extreme. It kept being left as we finished off the other tapas. When the Australian chef happened to walk past, we stopped him to ask just what had happened the tortilla that had led to its pathetic state. I’m not sure if it made things better or worse, that the chef then open-heartedly apologized for its poor quality, saying how he’d been away with his newborn baby, and hence hadn’t had time to prepare fresh tortillas.

To be fair, a fresh dish of tortilla was subsequently delivered to our table, much improved in texture, though sadly not in flavour. Our complaint to the waiter about the first, soggy version elicited a dark muttering of ‘Well, in Spain we don’t reheat our tortillas in the oven’. Even so (and the arrival of new babies notwithstanding), that’s no excuse for trying to sneak out food so clearly past its best.

For that alone, only 1 star out of 5, despite the great calamari. I have no idea what the other (strangely positive) online reviewers for Toro Toro are on about. Because, who knows what that might be like next time around? For your money, Delicatessen is a safer, if slightly too-kool-for-skool, overly crowded bet. And, my new favourite with nice big portions, is Barcelona on Markveien. Good food, friendly service, and you don’t even have to shout to make yourself heard. Bonus!

1/5 stars Toro Toro Ruseløkkveien 14,0251 Oslo. 22 83 25 50

3/5 stars Delicatessen Søndre Gate 8, 0550 Oslo. 22 71 45 46

4/5 stars Barcelona Tapas Bar Markveien 42, 0554 Oslo. 22 37 05 00

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