Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer Birthday Celebrations

We are a firm believer that birthdays are occasions when the lucky birthday person gets to decide where we will be breaking bread to celebrate another year to come! Summer birthdays are tough in that we could just as easily whip together a bbq and feed a large group of people to celebrate. But that's no excuse not to go out for a birthday celebration either.

Fortunate and unfortunate for us we don't know too many people with summer birthdays so when there is a birthday to celebrate we say take your pick of any place you would like to go. And for our good friend's birthday she decided a group meal at tapas extraordinaireToro Bravo was in order. The big brother to little brother restaurant Tasty n Sons we have already blogged about here, is no stranger to our praises. We've have numerous celebratory meals here and a summer birthday celebration is the perfect reason to hop on the bikes for a short ride down to one of our favorite restaurants in the city.

Tapas really are the best way to share a birthday meal and Toro Bravo's extremely extensive menu is made for sharing and group dinners.

From top to bottom: beef empanada; grilled flatbread with black truffled cheese and arugula; manchego & paprika fritters with salsa roja; traditional seasonal paella; bacon wrapped dates

Between the 6 of us we kept ordering and ordering so the pictures above are just a sampling of what we had that evening. The stand outs that went down fast without even an opportunity for a photo was the French "kisses" Brandy Soaked Prunes Stuffed with Foie Gras, the House Bacon & Manchego Burger, and the Fideo with rabbit sausage, creamed corn and tomatoes.

Toro Bravo's burger quickly shot to our list of best burgers. And the fresh lemon in the fideo was memorable, it's amazing what a small shot of citrus can do to a pasta dish. We also ordered a creamed chard dish not once, but twice and this is the only shot we got of either one.

Maybe it was the summer night or the soul lifting food, but the beers seem to flow that evening and celebrate we did!

Birthday celebrations are also an opportunity to try something new. When we tasted the signature raman dish at new to the neighborhood Taiyou Japanese restaurant, we knew instantly whose birthday we'll be celebrating here.

On our first visit to Taiyou we didn't have any of the sushi, which ironically was the original reason we decided to try the cute little neighborhood Japanese restaurant. We made sure to try the sushi this time and we were not disappointed. We couldn't believe the size of the sushi. Yes, this dragon roll tasted as good as it looks. The sushi rice had the right balance of sweet and tart with the perfect consistency of warm and soft. The whole roll just smelted into our mouths. It was well worth the return to try the sushi.

The whole table shared a few appetizers including this gorgeous looking and tasty Spicy Maguro Salad.

And these creamy baked green mussels.

We also shared a Sunomono Salad with Tako (Cucumber salad with octopus). The mussels and octopus slices were huge!

The star of the night, besides the birthday boy, was the "Get Well Soon" Raman. After visiting Japan we have been dreaming of having a go-to raman shop and I think we may have found it. "Fresh Japanese noodles in porky soup with pork loin, wasame and spicy ground pork"

This is a whole lot of porky soup and can be easily shared, but not tonight. Tonight is special. This bowl was meant for only the birthday boy. We each tried the broth and it tasted as delicious as the first time we eaten it. This raman will be competing with pho for our attention on the next cold rainy Sunday.

We love birthday dinners, summertime ones just seem more carefree and casual. Maybe it's the outdoor dining or sunshine before and after the meal. Maybe it's the loose clothing. Either way, we love them.

Toro Bravo

120 NE Russell
Sunday to Thursday: 5pm-10pm; Friday and Saturday: 5pm - 11pm


4057 N. Mississippi
Monday to Sunday: 12pm - 9:30pm

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