The words “bullfighting” and “brasserie” may be an unexpected pairing, but in Tribeca’s Smyth Hotel, the Toro Lounge complements a French-style brasserie called Plein Sud quite nicely.
If you follow television food shows, you may recognize Executive Chef Ed Cotton, from Iron Chef and Top Chef. Cotton, whose father was also a chef, likes to make his own charcuterie, pates, and terrines. Don’t pass this up, especially the very flavorful saucisson Nicois with black olive, Swiss chard, and herbed polenta. (The Charcuterie Royale offers a selection of Cotton’s artisanal cured meats.) The Plein Sud menu offers standard French fare such as escargot, moules frites, steak tartare, and coq au vin, as well as daily specials like cassoulet or bouillabaisse. A roasted branzino entrée with fennel, sweet onion fondue, and sauce vierge (olive oil, lemon and herbs) was fresh and lovely. Don’t leave without trying the lemon tart dessert. Baked in a tender crust and adorned with fresh blueberries, it has a refreshing citrusy zing without making your mouth pucker.
Head downstairs to Toro for an after-dinner brandy or to socialize with friends among the red velvet settees, banquettes, and tables arranged in areas for small or larger groups, including one screened off for privacy. A few bullfighting capes adorn the wall. The lounge menu, available until midnight, includes some of the dishes from Plein Sud, such as a cheese platter or Cotton’s famous charcuterie, as well as the special Toro burger (and that’s no bull!).
Restaurant daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; lounge Wednesday through Saturday 8 pm to 2 am. -- Marian Betancourt