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Torore review

Jennifer Choi finds a good steak and not much else at the re-invented El Macho

Published on September 23rd 2010.

Torore review

I met Guillame, the manager, whilst scouting out Torore, the reincarnation of El Macho on Portland Street: for years Manchester’s sole Tex-Mex food destination.

What was Torore thinking when they decided to offer baked potato as a side? The only baking this potato had undergone seemed to be in a microwave. Worse, it had been zapped and arrived in-flight stylee with a packet of Country-Life butter

We shared an umbrella and a brief conversation, from which I gathered that: 1) he was the manager when this place was El Macho; 2) he claimed that Torore served the best steaks in Manchester.

He also told me El Macho sold its Manchester arm (the Liverpool one is alive and well) because the owner got tired of traipsing between cities and chose the Scousers over us. Fair enough. The steaks, Guillame said, were billed as Argentinean, but he promised a range of other offerings. This sort of made sense as Latin American cuisine is also known for its Spanish, Italian and French influences.

I was intrigued.

Saturday evening and we descended into Torore's warmly lit basement. A few changes had been made since El Macho bit the dust: new skirting boards, new faux doorways, a radiator painted teal-blue, and...er... scarlet bull cut-outs hanging from the ceiling.

We were greeted warmly. Settled into the mahogany chairs we examine the surroundings a little more. Faux wall lanterns and 'exposed' patches of brickwork amongst textured white walls gave a very vague Latin American al-fresco dining effect. To enhance this they really ought to get rid of the Monet prints and the Amy Winehouse soundtrack.

The menu had similarly distracting inconsistencies. We chose starters of grilled gambas (£7.95) and guacamole corn tortillas (£4.50), but which part of Latin America is supposed to be associated with the ‘Asain Chicken’ [sic] with tikka sauce?

And whilst I had hoped for dulce de leche and yerba maté tea, only banana split and New York cheesecake could be found in the dessert section. Authenticity? Nope, not a priority.

But what of quality and taste?

The gambas were seasoned well and a subtle parsley-garlic dip brought out their freshness. The tortillas were bland, and the chilled guacamole average for its homogenous texture and absence of limey zing and onion and tomato chunks. Nothing wrong if I was having friends round to watch the Super Bowl, but a little too snacky for a sit-down meal.

We enjoyed a Niel Joubert Pinotage, an easy-drinking, silky-textured South-African red (£15.50) whilst waiting for our mains. Again, not indigenous, but still yummy.

My associate looked forward to his hotly-recommended Fillet Mignon (£14.95), whilst I wondered if my somewhat unfortunately named ‘Gringo Chicken Special’ (£13.95) would be gringo-good or gringo-bad.

Guillame hadn’t been wrong about the steak: it was very good, tender, medium rare and a definite delight. A drizzling of a light and creamy pepper sauce completed the picture. We weren't told much about whether the beef came from cattle raised in the Pampas, but such lovely beefiness didn't need a back-story. Sauce could've had more kick, my associate commented.

My gringo chicken breast was less good, smothered in a cheesy sauce. This usually makes me anxious about hard yellowish goo caking onto my plate as it cooled. On this occasion, even though I did have to contend with the goo (which for the record was too savoury), the succulence and juiciness of the chicken kept me relatively happy. Relatively.

The vegetables and sides were a disappointment. The stir-fried bell peppers and onions were ok with my chicken, but the overcooked beans and a wilted leaf accompanying the steak did little to encourage my associate to balance out his meal. The side salad was perfunctory and came with a non-descript mayo-ish dressing. A side of rice dotted with two peas and three cubed carrots was equally unexciting.

But what was Torore thinking when they decided to offer baked potato as a side? The only baking this potato had undergone seemed to be in a microwave. Worse, it had been zapped and arrived in-flight stylee with a packet of Country-Life butter: gone were the pretty little pots that held our pesto-like dip and pepper sauce.

It was as though Torore had ensnared us with decent mains, and then thought they didn't need to put in an effort with anything else.

We took that as a hint and decided to skip the dodgy desserts.

In truth, Guillame and his staff were thoroughly pleasant, and Torore's great value Fillet Mignon might be worth a trip down to the basement. But it was hard to overlook the lack of attention to detail, or imagination. It’s all so confused as well. Is Torore going for a hearty home-style cooking or for the usual mid-range mess of world cuisine? It doesn’t seem to know itself.

If you’re passing you might want to try this place, but don’t look for anything approaching a genuine Mexican dining experience. And remember there’s always the Chinese buffet down the road.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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28 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

east lancsJuly 20th 2009.

Funny, I used to live in MX and found (on my sole visit) El Macho to be a half-decent blend of "mex" and "tex-mex". Certainly my mexican fiance (at the time) wasn't too horrified either - although they didn't have salsa. Guess we must've gone on a rare good night?

JJuly 20th 2009.

It's a shame El Macho went downhill, used to be quite vibrant many years ago...oh well :-(

ancoats girlJuly 20th 2009.

That is truly a bizarre presentation style for guacamole. After the 5 chips are gone, do you eat the rest with a spoon?

AvoJuly 20th 2009.

For food like this, Panama Hatties is the place to beat.

Emma1973July 20th 2009.

Tried this place the day after it opened, owner was very friendly, wonder if they realised having the waitresses friends hanging around chatting was quite disconcerting!Ordered chicken wings and got just 3 of those massive off cut things you see in the 'basics' section of Tescos. All the sauces were served in those pretty pots but had just come straight from the fridge so hardly enhanced the meal! Plates were also very cold hence so was the food!But the reviewer missed out by not trying the desserts! Home made by the owners wife, they were fabulous, best chocolate cake I've ever tasted and the NY cheesecake was sublime, plain and slightly lemony like it should be, not covered in various fruits and sauces and many places are wont to do!

CharlieJuly 20th 2009.

manchester really lacks a good quality mexican and this place doesn't appear to be cutting the salsa either. i've also got a bee in my bonnet about bar burritto. they must have a good PR dept. because when i've eaten there i've been confused, over charged and under whelmed.

JJuly 20th 2009.

Fair dos, I remember when I first used to go it was hammered all the time....I don't know why this changed, maybe the quality of the food went down but in recent years, yes, dead everytime I happened to walk past the place...a shame cos in it's hey day it was far better than Chiquitos....

ChickJuly 20th 2009.

There's an interesting article about Bar Burritto in this week's Crains Business. They've just spent £70k on re-branding with an aim to give the restaurants a more specific identity

CasJuly 20th 2009.

I wasn't having a go J, it's just it wasn't ever open! That's for as long as I can remember, it's near our offices and we always wanted to give it a go but never could! Saying that we tried to go to the above on Thursday lunch but it was shut!

JohnJuly 20th 2009.

Every couple of years, I'd forget how sh*t El Macho was and try it again. Would always regret it the morning after. Or indeed during, with the smell of damp and the appalling decor.Bummer that there's still no great Mexican in the city.Even more perplexing when you compare to the Liverpool EM which I always found served great food.

JJuly 20th 2009.

Cas - I did state "many years ago"!!!

GordoJuly 20th 2009.

El Macho, or Hell Macho as we called it, was truly appalling. It appears that the new effort isn't much better.

johnthebriefJuly 20th 2009.

Shame. I'd hoped this place would be a winner.

ancoats girlJuly 20th 2009.

London 2k, are we talking about the same Taco Smell? Barburrito does a few odd things (mushrooms really don't belong in a burrito, most of their salsas are heavy on coriander which I can't eat, and they charge a fortune for sour cream and guac when it should be included) but at least all the ingredients are fresh and tasty. Taco Bell is where I ate as a povvy student back in Canada - it was edible but stank to high heaven from all the chemicals and grease. Last time I was home, I felt sick just walking past! At least at Barburrito you don't get mystery meat. :-)

AnonymousJuly 20th 2009.

ehh? pampas in Mexico? Might I suggest that Torore but judged on it's merits and not on its predecessor. Or is there a back story to these rants?

CasJuly 20th 2009.

El Macho went downhill as it was never bloody open!

RussJuly 20th 2009.

I love Panama Hatties - best TexMex food in Manchester!

sarahJuly 20th 2009.

the food wasnt exactly what i expected from a newly reopened restaurant, i found the steaks to be low quality (more fat than meat) and the deserts to be below standards (small scoop of budget ice cream and stacks of squirty cream), although i did enjoy the range of cocktails they had to offer and the waitress that served us was very attentive. the atmosphere was quite welcoming although the music player cutting off mid song on several occassions and the staff hovering over my table almost rushing me into my next order was rather off putting . overall the restaurant was average but in my view over priced for what they had to offer

ancoats girlJuly 20th 2009.

That reminds me Charlie - I'd forgotten that last time I went to BB they'd changed their pricing - you can now only get one size of burrito and it starts at £4.25 for chicken - and that's without any extras! Pretty annoying - and I haven't gone back since come to think of it...

bemusedJuly 20th 2009.

what has happened to central perk up near the train station has it closed?

alJuly 20th 2009.

I wonder if their marketing company told them the re-branding would cost £30k, then if they wanted anything else apart from the bare basics, it'd be another £20k each....

london2kJuly 20th 2009.

El Macho actually had SOME very, very good dishes. Their "ribs" were great...nothing like normal bbq ribs, but long-cooked, falling-off-the-bone, in Mexican spices. Also the flautas and the lamb were superb.I'm a Yank, by the way, and growing up in California (and Mexico) I did eat more than my fair share of mexican food.I agree that at the moment Panama Hatties is the best in town, though oddly only during lunch. The great TexMex dishes they serve at lunch are absent from the dinner menu, which is 10% as interesting. Why they do this is a mystery, but in any case you can always count on a great lunch at PH. Bar Burrito is rubbish, in my opinion. Not even to the level of Taco Bell (the Mexican McDonalds in the 'States).I'll go check out Torore in the next few weeks. I really get pissed off about not being able to go out to dinner and get real Mexican in Manchester. It's the easiest f**king food in the world to cook, and I can't figure out why the few places that even TRY manage to get it so wrong!!

VictoriaJanuary 11th 2012.

Las Iguanas is located on Deansgate and consists of a fusion of South American Foods. The food and cocktails are delicious, great quality produce, excellent atmosphere and the staff cant do enough for you. Five starts :)

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 11th 2012.

Given that nobody has commented on this thread for nigh on two years and nobody has mentioned Las Igaunas either, I presume you're a member of staff there?

Also, five starts?

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2012.

Las Iguanas is vile, got the squits from the one in Liverpool so am definitely not trying the Manchester one!

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2012.

the Scouse one's closed now too, a sad loss as this was the only decent Mexican in Liverpool...

ChristinaOctober 6th 2012.

Although torore may have had a bad press in the past, I cannot see any problem with the place now. I've been going for the last 2 years and the food and service have been excellent. I think the critics of this restaurant need to credit this place on its uniqueness of flavour and authenticy in its own right. They make amazing food at torore with plenty of flavour. Maybe the critics of this restaurant were smokers? We all know that smokers and drinkers have less taste buds compared with non smoking diners. Try this place out. Ignore the reviews!! Just make sure you ask for a good steak and send it back if it's unacceptable. Not all neat is perfect, not even in the supermarket.

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

Myself and my wife ate at Torore on Saturday 26/1/13 and i can honestly say I had the best steak I have ever had, and I have had a lot all over the world. It was so good we went back on Sunday for more. The service and atmosphere was absolutely excellent 10/10 from us.

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