When a restaurant is so good that your foodie friend from Boston alerts you to the fact that a branch is opening in your city, you take notice. Thus, I was intrigued by Toro + Ko before I had even entered the venue. Located in the ‘alcoholic drinks allowed’ section of Citywalk (home to Lima and Galvin), the interior of the restaurant is about what you would expect — industrial, with the requisite exposed HVAC and gold accents — there’s also a lounge upstairs, should you be so inclined. We’re quick to note that the tables are already quite scratched (!) and are duly informed they are all being replaced shortly.
The venue is well known for its tapas selections, a cuisine I am generally a big fan of (i.e., small plates = more noms to be had). Before I get into the food, it’s worth noting a few other stand out elements. Firstly, the soundtrack/playlist at the restaurant is far above average for Dubai. More than once, Dan and I turned to each other to nod our heads and agree the tunes were adding to our afternoon. I point this out because so many places in the city get this element underwhelming or completely wrong. Additionally, service is also among the best in the Dubai. With a natural effort that seems to escape many a server in the region, Maja took excellent care of us throughout the afternoon. I would happily sit in her section again! Finally, the cocktail list is also worth noting, with some highly unique offers and, as Dan was happy to see, a very deep selection of gin (served in double shots).
Now, onto the food! As we were served a relatively significant portion of the menu, I’ll concentrate on a few of my favorites and leave some surprises for your visit.
Brizos Con Caviar Sevruga
The only thing I didn’t like about this dish was the price tag (AED92 per spoon). Other than that, it’s a little bit of unexpected luxury that leaves you wanting more. Honestly, I’d expect to see something of this caliber as a fantastic amuse bouche in other restaurants. As you might imagine, no one is serving anything close to this in Dubai (or if they are, please let me know, so I can go visit).
Croquetas De Pollo Ahumado
This plate was our favorite dish of the day. A well-balanced amount of smoky and cheesy, this is one dish stopping in for on its own. Honestly, this is my ‘must order’ and a contender for one of the best plates of the month. Think of everything you’ve ever wanted in a comfort food, and then you’ll have these croquettes. At AED48, this is a perfect one to split with someone else.
While I tend to shy away from desserts when I’m out (ahem, my calories come substantially from alcohol, and I have no need for additional sugar), ‘churros’ is a magical word in our household. Even though I’ll use a superlative here, these might be the best churros I’ve ever had. What made them so delicious? The miso dulce de leche dip (in the center) is the best of everything. Even though my dining partner and I were stuffed well past capacity at this point in our meal, we found that ‘extra stomach’ everyone jokes about for dessert. If I were anywhere in the vicinity of CityWalk, I would stop in for these little bits of heaven. At AED46, perhaps the price is a bit high, but I think it’s well worth ordering again.
The dishes that weren’t my favorite were ones that I most likely would not have ordered, so my commentary won’t add much value. Overall, the presentation of each plate was elevated and intended to be split among two people. My suggestion would be to order slowly, focusing on dishes you truly want (or else the cost of the meal is going to absolutely skyrocket).
Would I go back? Although Citywalk has plenty of offers (Lima, Galvin, and Graze, among them), Toro + Ko sits near the top of the list. At the moment, I think the price point is well towards the top end of what I feel is acceptable, but for a few bites and a drink or two, I would return.
I also think it’s worth reporting that my dining partner became quite ill after lunch. There is obviously no way to 100% confirm it was from our meal at Toro + Ko. However, the dishes that I avoided — prawns, mussels, and oysters — all could’ve been a culprit in his food poisoning. We personally believe it was the prawn dish, which did smell quite fishy (which was why I did not opt to try it). In the sake of full disclosure, read more on Dan’s blog for his version and then come to your own conclusion. We both agree that even with the illness, we would still return to the restaurant.
Have you been to Toro + Ko in Dubai, or anywhere else in the world? What’s your favorite restaurant at CityWalk?
A to Za’atar was a guest of Toro + Ko. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.