SEPTEMBER 5, 2017
Who doesn’t love tapas? We admit, tapas tend to taste best on the streets of Madrid. That being said, it’s pretty nifty that this trend has become ubiquitous enough to find tasty little plates in any corner of the world. Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, the unassuming masterminds behind mini-empires Toro and Uni, plus the new hot ticket, Little Donkey in Cambridge, Mass., are giving us some serious global fusion wanderlust with the opening of a new branch of Toro in the United Arab Emirates.
From opening day in Boston in 2005, to the second, equally popular branch in New York in 2013, Bissonnette and Oringer have made critics swoon at Torowith their unique offerings of small plates, inspired by all corners of the world. In Dubai, classic dishes like their famed Tortilla Espana and Paella Valenciana are rumored to be in good company with some offshoots that reflect the restaurant’s new locale.
Both chefs have been laying out some gorgeous teasers on their Instagram feeds, showing us the influences that are shaping the Toro menu in Dubai. They’ve been spending time in local markets, hanging with local chefs, and definitely not skimping on the late-night munchies. Transporting a restaurant concept to a new locale is no easy feat, but luckily Bissonnette and Oringer have had time to cut their teeth. When they opened Toro in Thailand in 2016, they faced the initial challenge of translating their popular menu to a new audience with different tastes. Oringer told Eater in 2016, “We thought we’d be going in and cooking Toro classics,” said Oringer, “but we’ve now been able to adjust some things and have fun using local ingredients, making the food a little spicier and more vibrant. We both have had a blast being able to go out there and talk food with people, [eventually] saying, ‘Oh shit, we have to change the menu a little bit.'”
Looks like the same is currently happening in Dubai. Bissonette’s hay-roasted carrots, below, are a riff on one of Toro’s most adored small plates, with some inspired influence from the Dubai markets, shown in the harissa addition to the buttermilk dressing. Ken Oringer also showed off a beautiful baby lamb shoulder that walks the line nicely between honoring classic Toro and paying homage to the history and culture that Dubai has to offer. We’d say the opening team, right, is looking pretty sharp as well.
Toro Dubai opens at The Square In City Walk, a luxe new development based in Jumeirah, this week, joining the company of some other great restaurants. Bon Appetit just published some jet lag and travel tips for you, should you make the journey. Just putting it out there…