Tapas at Embrujo (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 97 Danforth Avenue
Website: www.tapasatembrujo.com
Type of Meal: Dinner

Tapas At Embrujo has replaced the previous Embrujo Flamenco and with it arrives a new menu with additional small plates and lower price points. Everything is meant to be shared, especially the large paellas, suggested for two but could easily feed more. 

Amongst the four paellas, we ordered the seafood ($42) which was topped with shrimp, squid, mussels and a scallop. The rice was saucy and flavourful but would have been even better if there was less liquid so that a crust could develop on the sides and bottom of the pan. The seafood was overcooked and despite the abundance of shrimp, squid and mussels it was a bizarre that there was only a single scallop. All in all, although not the best in the city (I’d suggest Carmen for paella), it was nonetheless a satisfactory dish.

With tapas in their name, they certainly offer a large selection. Varying in sizes, some like the duck confit with pear ($11) could even act as a main with the addition of a salad. A fairly large duck leg is prepared confit style arriving tender and flavourful. Served piping hot with a sprig of rosemary, it was an enjoyable dish, much tastier than the other meat tapas we tried that night.

Having tried both of black angus sirloin tapas, the steak with three sauces ($10) was the better of the two. Four strips of beef were accompanied with sweet parsley, Romesco and sweet mustard sauces for dipping. The end piece I tasted was fairly tough, but my friend noted the middle portion was nice and tender. The dipping sauces were also an acquired taste - the sweetness in the parsley and mustard sauces were not for me, I would have much preferred something tangy or spicy instead.

The second sirloin dish was the steak with salsa de mostaza ($10); Embrujo’s take on steak frites. The sirloin, served in chunks, was overdone. The fries were decent arriving hot and crispy; however, was likely the frozen variety and a fairly oily.

If something fried is what you’re craving, the eggplant fries ($7) is the better choice. Although not extremely crispy, there is a nice light crust around each piece and a soft tender centre. Topped with a liberal sprinkling of sea salt and served with aioli these are great for munching on. If you can save some of the salmorejo, the garlicky Spanish tomato sauce that accompanies the bread, try it with the eggplant as it pairs quite nicely. Just be careful on the first fry as they are hot!

In fact, just save the bread period. Especially, if you’re ordering the clams with chorizo ($9). A bowl of clams cooked in white wine and flavoured with spicy chorizo, the clams are decent but the flavourful broth is the highlight. It would go so nicely with the crusty bread – too bad we had already ran out of it.

tapas at Embrujo  clams

The shrimp with chocolate ($10) was a surprisingly good dish. Normally, fruit flavoured chocolate is a detested combination but with the non-sweet cocoa Embrujo used in combination with the orange juice actually was quite nice. The addition of chilies into the dish really helped to keep everything savoury. If only the shrimp wasn’t floured it would have been better as the crust sort of crumbled off and became mushy.

One of our table’s favourite dishes of the night was the quail egg crostini ($9). More of the delicious tart and garlicky salmorejo sauce is spread on a grilled crostini, then layer with Serrano ham and topped with a fried quail egg. The dish not only presented well but the combination of flavours, crunch and runny egg yolk proved to work well together.

tapas at Embrujo

After enjoying a half an hour live performance (Thursday – Saturdays only), of entertaining Spanish songs and Flamenco dancing we finally digested enough for dessert. Sharing the flan ($6), the Spanish version of crème caramel, it’s a decent dessert. Much denser than the other custards there's a cake-like consistency to it. But, it was well flavoured and the watery caramel nicely sweetened.

tapas at Embrujo

Wondering what “Embrujo” meant but not finding it on the internet (imagine that), I finally wrote into the restaurant; turns out it translates to “bewitched”. The name sums up our experience quite well – although not every dish was a hit we nonetheless had an enjoyable night at Tapas at Embrujo. In the end, it’s the captivating experience is what matters - our waiter was delightful, the food plentiful & affordable and the cava/sangria/wine even more so. With the right company and atmosphere, this adds up to a great night.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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