The Venue

Two of our favourite design-savvy geographical “souths” collide to create a sensory, ambient dining experience at Toro Toro in Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina, with South American prints and South African ranch-style leathers and kudo horns layer to create a warm, inviting restaurant setting with fashionable design accents.

The Design

If you haven’t been to Toro Toro for a while it’s certainly worth checking out since its funky refurb from the Dubai office of LW Design earlier this year, which also oversaw the original design. Don’t worry, the venue’s signature charging bull at the entrance and its backlit onyx kitchen and bar remain in place, maintaining the striking entrance it’s known for. A new, trend-conscious feature in both the upstairs bar and downstairs dining area is an eye-catching statement wallpaper with an oversized Glamora banana leaf print that draws on contemporary home fashions. This botanical backdrop creates a tropical setting for a seating area that blends South American tribal prints and weaves with soft brown leather sofas, brown and white cowhide stools and black woven chairs with fluffy brown sheepskins draped casually over the chair backs.

Chevron wood floors, long raw-wood tables and kudo horn wall décor add to the ranch vibe, while the wood tones create a cosy, inviting place under dim ambient lighting. The kodu horns, purchased from South Africa for the restaurant opening, have since been adorned with a black, white and gold tribal print by Art Beat, a Dubai-based art consultancy commissioned by LW Design. Head down the cage-like staircase, where thick black railings encase a mini jungle of monstera plants and other tropical fauna, and the dining area carries on these warm tones with Aztec accents.

Toro Toro’s caramel-brown leather dining chairs have been upgraded with a woven black and white band on either side of the chair back, applied by White Moss, to fit the South American theme. At the end of the main dining room, the banana leaf wallpaper print appears on a back wall, inset with a mirrored shelf and candle clusters. The lighting is perfectly executed at Toro Toro and heightens the sensory experience and ambience, drawing your eye towards special design accents. While spotlights highlight the detail of the large leaves on the wallpaper, a single spotlight on a kodu horn casts striking jet-black shadows on the charcoal wall above a table for two; in the corner, a floor lamp from French brand Bleu Nature, with a base of asymmetric “branches”, appears like a skinny tree whose leaves have been cropped by grazing herds; meanwhile, a series of pendants from Brokis, sourced from the Czech Republic, shaped like large glass bowls hung by lassoo rope, hang like lanterns over the tactile live edge tables, made by Dubai-based Chabros, in the private dining booths. Here, tribal patterned sideboards display ranch-style objet under more kudo horns on the walls, each one painted in different eye-catching tribal patterns, in black and white, bronze and pops of sky blue.

The Experience

Toro Toro maintains its rep as a fashionable bar and restaurant with LW Design’s update, with fresh, trending additions and the creative customisation of existing décor and furniture. The level of attention and quality that you see in the design is mirrored in the menu of truly delicious Pan-Latin cuisine. Ceviche and steak lovers are spoilt for choice with a succulent selection, but you must try the more unusual dishes, too, to appreciate the culinary presentation and wonderful mix of flavours the chef can serve up. The cold antojitos of smoked swordfish avocado will make you a repeat customer in an instant – the creamy swordfish is whipped up into a smooth cocoon of avocado slices, with a jalapeno tang that’s delicious. Meanwhile, the chachapas – a delightfully sweet-‘n’-salty Venezuelan sweetcorn pancake with melt-in-your-mouth halloumi cheese – and the wild mushroom coca flatbread sprinkled with goats cheese and truffle oil are two of many veggie dishes that make Toro Toro a must-visit for vegetarians too.

Photography by Natelee Cocks.

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