As this is going to be our last brunch for a while, we decided to check out the critically acclaimed Hola Hola offering at Toro Toro, and if you think that’s a mouthful, the eating experience turns out to be true to its namesake. If you’ve never visited, this vast restaurant is tucked away behind Grosvenor House’s Tower 2, taking you away from the landing of the property’s bustling valet area to an expanse of calm and tranquillity facing the Marina waterway. Golden bulls greet you at the entrance and that’s the extent of any dramatics you can expect, given that this isn’t really a brunch in the true sense of the word. There is no queueing with all food brought to the table, no live stations, no mammoth ice sculptures or fanfare. However, we still recommend dressing in your Friday best, as this luxurious setting is where you will find city slickers and the understatedly glamorous, table-hopping in designer threads while quaffing signature blended concoctions.
Once seated at our table, we’re given a quick run-down on what to expect and our attention diverted to the green/red coasters placed at each place setting to indicate whether we want them to keep the food coming, or to hold off a while. Famished, we are all green and as they pile our table with starters, ranging from yuca chips, to guacamole and nachos, empanadas, salads and skewers of meat, it’s a nice touch for them to bring out some Margherita pizzas for the younger children at our table too. Each and every item is bursting with its own characteristic; from the creamy piquancy of the guac to the citrus zing of the ceviche, which makes it even more difficult to stop after one of anything, as you yearn for the next of your tastebuds to experience this thrilling ride. It’s only when our table is being replenished for a second round, do I realise that I’ve eaten far too quickly and the mains haven’t even arrived yet. Begrudging my own gluttony, I switch my coaster to red to take a breather.
Given that the majority of my table consists of men, including a perpetually hungry teenage boy, I admire the gusto with which they indulge, as cut after cut of beef and chicken are brought to the table. It’s at this point that I decide I have to try a little, all in the name of research of course. The succulent picanha is made complete with yet another slab of polenta and a smattering of chimichurri sauce and a sneaky helping of perfectly grilled prawns just about finishes me off. As I try to regain composure under the strain of my burgeoning belly, I decide that it really is time for me to throw in the towel.
It’s not long before everyone follows suit, each with a satisfied smile as they succumb to food coma levels, reclining ever so slightly to engage in lazy conversation and a few meticulously crafted drinks. Eyes soon light up again though as the desserts make their way to the table, and despite my groans of protest, I am coerced into trying the tres leches cake, with its rice pudding-like consistency that almost instantly makes me want to burst into tears. It’s like being enveloped in the biggest hug from your mum, oozing an incomparable comfort factor. One taste and you’ll agree – this is one time when you’ll definitely want to eat your feelings.
INFO: Dhs350 with soft drinks, Dhs500 with selected drinks, 12.30pm-4pm, Fri, Al Sufouh, 04 317 6000, www.torotoro-dubai.com
TORO TORO’S Ceviche de Huachinango
90g diced pink snapper
150g leche de tigre
40g minced red onion
50ml orange juice
10g diced avocado
20ml olive oil
4g coriander leaf, chopped
10g roasted sweet potato as a garnish
For the Leche de Tigre
300ml fish stock
700ml lime juice
200g white fish
250g white onion
10 ice cubes
5g habanero chilli (remove the seeds and white pith)
1 Combine all the ingredients for the leche de tigre except the orange juice in a bowl with ice. Transfer the mix to a blender and pulse until smooth.
2 Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and refrigerate. It’s important to always keep the mixture cold.
3 Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and set aside until you are ready to serve.
4 Just before serving, season the fish with the salt and mix well. Add the leche de tigre and the orange juice and mix one last time.
5 Taste for seasoning and serve immediately
Tip: Don’t add the leche de tigre until you are ready to eat, as the lime will overcook the fish