El Toro. The Bull. The ultimate Spanish symbol. A proud name for a proud restaurant. One that has a wealth of Spanish dishes, maybe even authentic tapas and everybody’s sipping fino seco (dry sherry) or Rioja. At least that’s what I had in mind when I visited the newly opened restaurant in Újlipótváros. I spot the big San Miguel sign hanging in front of the establishment from a distance, which already maks my heart beat faster. What could be better than a cold, draft Spanish beer. In my mind I’m not really walking along a dirty Újlipótváros street, but on the seaside eating some chipirones and washing it down with a cool lager. Stepping in to the place I find myself in a pretty minimal designed restaurant - actually rather verging on the simple than minimal. Decorations of bulls, Spanish scenes, torreadors and arenas fill the walls. Our waitress is not really knowledgeable in Spanish cuisine or wines, but she is efficient and has a sense of humour, therefore masks her incapability well.

We start off by ordering the „tapas” dips with home bread. Now I have a pretty good sense of tapas because I spend every summer in the south of Spain eating through various plates of tapas every day. But I can assure you that you won’t find „feta cream dip with dried tomato” or „egg cream with cheese” on these menus. Perhaps I’m too picky on this subject, but why name a place El Toro and design it with bulls and stuff if your menu only has traces of certain dishes that would make you a ’Spanish or Meditteranean restaurant’. Anyway, design, identity and food are two separate things and food is what counts. And El Toro has some pretty darn good tasting dips and their flatbread is also very tasty. Oh yes, and the beer is what I expected it to be like. Mmm. So we start off very well indeed on our quasi-Spanish journey. We also order a plate of Serrano ham with pickled vegetables. The ham is good, but the vegetables are replaced by slices of orange, grapes, nuts and green salad. Simple, good food, but no real revelations there.

A member of our company goes for the „truly Spanish” Breast of Chicken in cheesy breadcrumbs and mashed potatoes. It’s what it is: the breaded chicken is prepared light enough, not swimming in batter and grease and the mash seems to be original and not made from powder. What we really want to try is the Uruguay T-Bone steak with home fries and garlic butter. Well I’m unfortunately one of those lucky guys who have been to parilladas in Uruguay and let me tell you about the meat there. First of all it melts in your mouth. Second of all it’s not kept on the grill for too long: medium pink being the best colour for your steak inside and the outside getting a nice char from the flames. Our steak in El Toro was a sizeable piece but it failed to deliver on many counts. First of all the meat wasn’t soft, pink, but overdone and the juicy tastes reduced to almost nothing. Perhaps it took too long for it to get here from Montevideo, but the consistency was also far from perfect. The butter didn’t add much taste either, so it was a bit of a waste of money overall. Accross the table, a serving of El Toro steak arrived with a cheddar tortilla and vegetable wrap. The meat was prepared with more care and the tortilla also proved to be a worthy companion to the dish.

One last word about the wine list. We only had two lonely Spanish wines available that night and the Rioja recommended by the waitress was truly terrible – we then continued with a Hungarian Shiraz that was far better.

To sum it up: a great place for some dips, home made bread a couple of beers and a good friendly chat.
Overall: 5/10