Time Out says
Manly’s new Spanish offering is big, loud and rambunctious. And that’s just the chef.
What’s more important to you? Chefs on telly, or chefs in the kitchen? At El Toro Loco, a new additional to the Manly Corso, you can have both. Miguel Maestre, the swarthy exuberant Spaniard behind El Toro Loco, is also the star of Lifestyle Food’s Miguel’s Tropical Kitchen, which plays on a loop on the flatscreen in the bar.
And that’s the thing about this rowdy tapas parlour. Forget about ETL being a restaurant. Because a bar with club-style seating, techno-Latino Flamenco music, fairly forgetful staff and plastered with Estrella branding (umbrellas, glasses, posters) is a lot more forgivable than a restaurant featuring the same.
Spanish-born, Scottish-trained Maestre moved to Sydney six years ago where he spent time behind the pass at Bathers’ Pavilion, Bel Mondo, a handful of pubs and most recently, at Tony Bilson’s wine bar in Circular Quay, where he gave the food a bit of a Spanish twist.
At his Manly digs, expect to find tapas, and plenty of it. There are some interesting dishes on the menu with a few standouts. Salt cod fritters are heavy on the fish and light on the potato with a crisp, crunchy golden shell. Yum. The duck pâté has good flavour but is extremely dense. Better, perhaps, to run with the all-Spanish charcuterie plate with sobresada (a spicy, pâté-like pork paste), jamon, chorizo, and morcilla served with sourdough.
There’s also an authentic lack of green vegetables on the menu – just like in Spain. About the only salad you’ll find is the Russian salad (potatoes, peas, corn and potato covered in salad cream with a side of white anchovies served in the tin), which doesn’t exactly help break up the fiesta of pork. But let’s face it – Spanish food is all about seafood and pork. With that in mind, try the mini chorizo – sweet, juicy, thumb-sized nubs of spicy sausage that are perfect with a beer (something tells us we should order a delicious, refreshing Estrella). Make sure to order the leche frita (fried milk). Fried crisp on the outside, gooey, and very slightly sweet on the inside, it’s served with a side of vanilla ice cream. Sadly, churros are doughy rather than fluffy, but the deep-fried lemon leaves are certainly interesting.
Our advice? Visit El Toro Loco for beers, tapas and fun. Forget about a civilised dinner and join the throng. Myffy Rigby