Toledo Lounge, Vic Park

2015-07-18 12.40.20 Friday evening and Toledo’s was suspiciously quiet. Where were the post-work crowds? Why after sitting for 10 minutes did we have to wave our arms at the wait staff to order a drink? Staff were super friendly, just otherwise occupied. Doing what? Good question.  The scene above was Toledo about an hour after we arrived, when the tables were filling. 2015-07-18 20.57.31 Our party of four was somewhat mollified after glasses of wine were duly presented. A few glugs of grape juice and everything  seems better.  On with the food then. Toledo is a tapas joint, and the dishes are designed around different regions of Spain as the rather funky menu illustrates. We began with the old favourite, patatas bravas. Fairly standard dish of fried potatoes with aioli and romesco sauce ($10).  It’s hard to go wrong with potatoes. 2015-07-18 12.35.58 Paella arancini balls with saffron aioli and rocket ($15) were regulation without being outstanding. The balls were crispy fried without being oily, and the rice filling was tasty enough. Nothing to knock your socks off though. 2015-07-18 12.33.23 The battered prawns with guacamole and aioli ($15) looked perky, and the prawns were fresh. There wasn’t anything citrusy or crunchy however to give this dish the lift it needed. And by this stage we were aioli’d out. Aioli here, aioli there, aioli everywhere. 2015-07-18 12.26.44 Our dish of fried goats cheese with glazed honey ($16) was deliciously creamy, and the one dish I really enjoyed. The honey and rocket were a good contrast to the battered cheese. 2015-07-18 12.31.45 Beef croquettes with rocket ($16) and – you guessed it – more aioli! This was our sole meat dish of the evening and my least favourite. The beef had been ground to a smooth paste, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. I concede I’m not much of a red meat fan anyway but this dish lacked inspiration and flavour, and the texture was strange – like a cow that wants to be a parfait but isn’t quite ready to forsake being mincemeat. 2015-07-18 12.28.59 Our final dish was the stuffed squid with saffron rice, romesco and cheese sauce ($16). I don’t quite know what to say about this except that it was a change from all the fried foods. The rice stuffing seemed a bit odd, and although the flavours weren’t terrible together, it just didn’t work for me. And what do you know – yet another bed of that sneaky ole rocket underneath – we wouldn’t want this dish to feel left out, would we? 2015-07-18 12.38.20 The group decided to share the dessert tasting plate ($16). You can forgive a restaurant serving ordinary food as long as its desserts are a bit special.  This dessert was special all right, but special in a different way. The profiteroles were “just like the frozen ones you buy at Coles” my friend remarked. The pannacotta didn’t wobble, and the chocolate sauce had mysteriously managed to escape from a Cottees bottle. The forlorn chocolate filling in the Portuguese chocolate tart laboured away under the weight of its gluggy frozen puff pastry shell. The crema catalana was a poor relation of the rich custard we expected. 2015-07-18 12.43.38 Toledo has a few things going for it, but food isn’t one of them. My recent visit to Jezebelle’s in Guildford was an example of how an eclectic and interesting tapas menu should work.  Our Toledo food experience was uninspiring and the menu could do with a major tweaking.  With aioli and rocket featuring on almost every dish, a bit of creativity would work a treat. How about some salsas, some crunch, some lemony twangs? One of my friends waited 15 minutes for her second glass of wine before telling the waiter to “forgetaboudit”.  The location is a plus with plenty of free parking out front, and the place has atmosphere once the punters start stumbling in. But unlike in real estate, in the food industry location isn’t everything.  While the wait staff were friendly and charming, if charming can’t serve me a drink in a reasonable time, it doesn’t pass muster.

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