Monday, July 18, 2016

The Black Toro, Glen Waverley (by invitation) by Benny

Our first surprise is the heavy traffic crawling around the Glen Waverley shopping strip (by The Glen shopping centre) looking for parking spots. After all, it is early on a Tuesday evening, and a gusty wind is coming directly from Antarctica – with wind chill it is (un)comfortably below freezing. If we hadn’t been invited by The Black Toro, Bilby Blue and I would be snuggled up at home watching MasterChef over bowls of homemade minestrone.

Having finally found a car park we arrive at a well-appointed modern bistro: open kitchen and bar; timber tables, good quality wine glasses and tableware; a huge black bull mural dominating one wall. The head chef, Garen Maskal, was previously sous chef at Ezard. The Black Toro is clearly a class above what you might expect in a typical suburban shopping strip.

The Black Toro: corn on the cob with chipotle mayonnaise, ground masa and lime
Kicking off with some amazing tapas...see below for description...

The second surprise is that on such a night, Black Toro is full and the atmosphere is buzzing – our waiter Josh cheerfully and efficiently settles us at the last vacant table and explains the menu: a dozen or so poco (small) share plates; five grande (large) share plates, four dulce (desserts) and a handful of sides. Three or four small plus one large plate is recommended for two people. A very attractive option is “feed me” – allow the chef to put together a great meal for you. $48 without dessert, $68 including dessert.

Perusing the menu, there are many dishes that we would like to sample. Josh warns us that one of the most attractive items – the large plate of slow roasted lamb shoulder with adobe glaze, Mexican slaw, soft corn tortilla & fragrant rice – is very large and enough for two just by itself. We would have not been able to try anything else! With some effort we managed to trim the list down to five small and one large plate.

The Black Toro - mocktails
For drinks we go for a couple of the mocktails. Cool as a Cucumber is a delightful mixture of cucumber, mint, lychee syrup and lime juice with tonic water, not too sweet with just a light fizz. Miguel Angel is a mixture of fruit (orange, lemon, lime, lychee and passionfruit) with orange juice and lemonade. It is a good flavour combination, but just a little too sweet to be truly refreshing. They are served in jars with handles. I know that this is the trendy way to serve drinks (especially milk shakes), but the presentation is a slightly at odds with an otherwise sophisticated modern setting.

The Black Toro - potato, jalapeno and cheddar croquettes
An excellent start to the meal is the potato, jalapeno and cheddar croquette with whipped goats cheese: a beautifully smooth potato puree encased in a crunchy crumb with just a hint of jalapeno heat.

This is followed by the grilled corn on the cob with chipotle mayonnaise, ground masa and lime: everything perfectly grilled corn should be, with the sweet kernels exploding in your mouth with a fresh acid hit from the lime combining nicely with the mayonnaise, but I’m not convinced that the ground masa adds much to the taste experience, at least not the large amount that is served. Amongst the small plates, this is one of Bilby’s favourites (see first pic above)

The Black Toro - coconut kingfish ceviche
Coconut kingfish ceviche, with young coconut, tomato, cucumber and chilli: slices of raw kingfish with a buttery smooth texture, aided no doubt by the young coconut, is more delicate in flavour. It lacks the acidity that I would normally expect in a ceviche, but is still a very nice dish.

The Black Toro - soft shell crab taco with blue corn tortilla
Soft shell crab taco with blue corn tortilla, sriracha mayo and cabbage slaw: Both of us loved these tacos, and could have easily munched many more.

The Black Toro - seared Canadian scallops
Seared Canadian scallops, creamed corn, bacon crumb, radicchio and espelette pepper: My personal favourite amongst the small plates, the chef somehow creating a crisp crust on the scallops without overcooking them, the corn, bacon crumb and radicchio completing the flavour and textural medley.

The Black Toro - wrapping crispy pork hock in lettuce

The Black Toro - crispy pork hock
Then comes our grande plate: crispy pork hock – a masterstock braised pork hock with guajillo chilli caramel, green apple salsa verde and butter lettuce. The hock is so tender that the meat flakes away from the bone with no need for a knife. The skin is crispy and has just the right amount of fat clinging to the underside. The caramel adds a nice level of sweetness to the dish, the green apple salsa a splash of sourness, and the butter lettuce serves as a natural tortilla. Definitely the highlight of the night.

The Black Toro - dessert platter
We are now quite replete, but Josh insists that our invitation includes the dessert platter, a sampling plate of each of the four desserts on the menu. Despite being described as a tasting plate, the individual servings are quite substantial. Our favourite is the deconstructed peanut butter cheesecake with chocolate ice cream and honeycomb: especially delicious when you combine all of these flavours plus the chocolate crumb in each mouthful.

A chocolate parfait with hazelnut caramel, salted caramel popcorn and vanilla bean ice cream is a chocoholic’s dream – presented as a large chocolate bar filled with light chocolate parfait on a crisp biscuit base.

A passionfruit curd tart served with a mix of fresh and freeze-dried berries, dots of toasted Italian meringue and mint is very good, delivering a very strong acidic hit in comparison with the sweetness from the other items.

The final dessert selection is arroz con leche – a coconut rice pudding with saffron spiced pear, cinnamon and walnut. It is smooth and creamy with subtle flavours, but is somewhat overshadowed by the punchy tastes from the other items – nonetheless rice custard fans will love it.

Josh and his colleagues also deserve kudos for excellent table service. All of our needs have been anticipated and satisfied unobtrusively. They are fast, efficient and friendly. What more can you ask?


We loved it
We loved it.


The Black Toro is a great place for a special night out with friends – the more the merrier as you will want to sample as much of its menu as possible. It is a bit pricey, but well worth it. Bilby and I will be back with at least two other friends so that we can try the slow roasted lamb – we saw it being served to another table and it looked fantastic!

Note that The Black Toro is so popular that it has two sitting times, at 6pm and 8pm. There is a bit of flexibility on less busy nights, so ask when you book (and advance booking is recommended).

Find it at

The Black Toro
79 Kingsway
Glen Waverley Vic 3150
Phone: (03) 9561 9696

The Black Toro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


Laura said...

Looks great! I've always wanted to try that place! :)

Benny said...

Thanks for your support Laura. The Black Toro is really worth giving a try - a special night out that I think you will enjoy.

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