120 NE Russell St
Portland, OR 97212
Toro Bravo is a small tapas restaurant in Northeast Portland. It is the brainchild of Chef John Gorham (as well as the brunch darling Tasty n Sons). It is in a small building next to the Wonder Ballroom, a local music venue. The day I went, there was an indie electro-pop concert happening, so hipsters walking around were in no short supply.
The interior was a nice open set up. There are some individual tables and some communal ones. We got placed on the edge of one of the communal tables and since it was a tuesday night there was no wait.
First up I had a charcuterie board. All the charcuterie was made in house and was fantastic. The chorizo (top left) was amazing. It was topped with Sherry jelly, which was more interesting to me than enjoyable. The duck liver mousse terrine with morels was absolutely amazing as well. I may have found a new fungus love in morels.
Next up were the salt cod fritters with aioli. Yea, I took a bite before I took a picture. I love aioli! These were good. The salt cod was pulled apart before it was fried, making the resulting fritter much smoother than expected.
After that I ordered squid ink pasta with anchovy syrup, hazelnuts and egg yolk. The pasta is made fresh in house (of course) and is amazing. I was asked afterwards if the squid ink added anything to the pasta and I answered that I wasn’t sure, but the pasta was really good. I’m not sure my palate is sophisticated enough to pick up on the squid ink. I thought the hazelnuts were a bit unnecessary and ended up not eating most of them.
I was still hungry after the pasta, so I ordered one more plate. For those not familiar with the concept of Tapas, it’s basically a set up in which you order a bunch of small plates and make a meal out of it. This is a concept I can totally get behind.
I ordered the spicy merguez sausage on grilled flatbread with French fries and buttermilk cheese. The flatbread was amazingly good, if you go here, please get a flatbread dish. The sausage was insanely hot and while tasty, I had to labor to finish it. The fries were good, but nothing special.
For dessert I had the churros in chocolate. A group at our (communal) table got some and they looked good (as you can see from the photo), so I went for it (with a side of ice cream for good measure). Sadly, they were a bit of a disappointment. Not quite sure what was off about them (I think it was amount of nutmeg). The chocolate was good and so was the ice cream.
Overall, this is the kind of local, everything-made-in-house, from-local-producers-and-farmers, that you come to expect in Portland. This is a seriously great restaurant in the middle of a city full of them.