I decided to start this past weekend a day early by convincing Chad to join me for a celebratory dinner on Thursday evening. I was in the mood for something a little bit outside of the box, and Bocado immediately came to mind. Having previously enjoyed a nice lunch at this West Midtown establishment, I was anxious to return for dinner. Bocado absolutely exceeded my expectations in terms of atmosphere, service, and most importantly, food (we’ll get to that soon).
Given our celebratory mood, we decided to begin the evening with a round of cocktails (which soon turned in to rounds). The cocktail list was slightly intimidating, considering I was unfamiliar with over half of the ingredients listed on it. After some valuable insight and recommendations from our wonderful server, I decided on the Dog Day (bonus points for the clever name).
I rarely order gin-based cocktails, and, until I tried the Dog Day, I didn’t think I particularly cared for gin. This might have something to do with the fact that my limited experience with gin has mostly involved my grandfather’s version of a gin & tonic – gin on the rocks with a dash of salt. However, this citrusy concoction of gin, grapefruit liqueur, lemon, averna (an Italian liqueur), and sea salt certainly changed my outlook on the liquor. The sea salt provided just the right amount of savory to balance out the sweetness and bitterness of the grapefruit and the averna. I’m not sure how they came up with this combination of ingredients, but it worked.
The dinner menu featured a nice array of small plates and entrées. It was quite difficult to narrow it down to two small plates for sharing. After some more helpful recommendations from our server, we decided on the brussels sprouts and the quinoa avocado dish. This was actually my first experience eating brussels sprouts in my adult life, and it was certainly a good place to start. Growing up, I was always the one stuck at the dinner table because I absolutely refused to eat my vegetables. Aside from my ability to come and go from the dinner table as I please these days, not much has changed. However, a glance at the brussels sprouts on our neighbor’s table inspired me to branch out. The sprouts were pan roasted with lemon, thyme and capers. They were topped with freshly shaved parmesan and house-made croutons for a nice textural contrast. All in all, I now consider myself a (somewhat) reformed vegetable-eater.
The quinoa avocado dish was quite unique and an absolute success. The quinoa and avocado were tossed with fresh radishes, cucumbers, red peas, and a cilantro-lime crème fraiche. The ingredients were light, fresh and perfectly balanced with one another. I’m pretty sure we didn’t leave even a single grain of quinoa on this plate.
I knew immediately upon browsing the menu for .2 seconds that I would order the steak tartare (small plate) as my entrée. Yet another good decision. The tartare was nicely seasoned and served perfectly chilled with a sour cream and parsley garnish. It was also accompanied by a coriander and sea salt flat bread. The thin and extra crispy flat bread was an excellent way to enjoy the tartare.
After finding out exactly what a culotte steak was (a top sirloin), Chad selected it as his entrée. Although not quite as tender as a filet, I really enjoyed the flavor of the beef. The bordelaise sauce was a nice touch and surprisingly did not overpower the steak itself. Both in terms of drinks and dinner, this was absolutely one of those meals where we each considered our own choices to be superior to the others’.
The only disappointment of the entire evening came at the very end, when our server tempted us with dessert. She only got as far as uttering the phrase “chocolate ganache with sea salt” before I was hooked. The cake, however, was a total letdown. Despite the generous icing-to-cake ratio, the cake itself was incredibly dry. We opted to savor the delicious layer of chocolate sea salt ganache on top and left the rest of the cake behind.
Based on the deliciousness of the rest of the meal, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say they were just having an off-night in the cake department. Perhaps when I return I’ll just have to make sure I fill up on the Bocado burger stack and fries, which are next on my list to try.