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OUT TO EAT / Great dishes, drinks and people

A great hunk of tuna

Don't expect to find the Tuna Package at too many Spanish bars, but it's one of the most popular dishes at Toro Tapas Bar (492 Elmwood Ave., 886-9457).

Despite its name, Toro has never limited itself to Spanish cuisine. The package has been on its menu since opening day, said chef Justin Brink. "It's a staple," Brink said of the $16 dish. "It's a Day One item that will be here as long as we stand."

Conceived by Paula Danilowicz, Toro's first chef, it's nearly a quarter-pound of ahi tuna in one hunk. Japanese chefs might slice it and serve it as is, since it's sushi quality.

Instead, it's battered in tempura and panko crumbs, then deep fried. The outside gets crunchy while the inside remains rare. It's cut in two pieces to dramatize the contrast, and it's served with chipotle cherry barbecue sauce.

These days, when Toro's chef tells friends that he's updating the menu, some spring to the defense of their favorite dish. "They say, 'Don't take off the tuna.'"

-- Andrew Z. Galarneau


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