Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bocado Valentine's Dinner

All right, I know I'm a bit late on this one (what's new?!) but Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

Hubby and I decided that Valentine's Day would be a perfect excuse to get out dancing for the first time since we moved away from the city. At first the plan was to drive out to Boston to have a nice Tapas dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, then head over to Ryles in Cambridge for a little salsa.

This is the image from the banner on their website. You see that hot headless chick in the black top there? That's me! From about 6 years ago... but it remains a source of great pride : )

I realized, however, that whenever we try to do a special dinner followed by a night of dancing, the dancing almost never happens. So in a effort to avoid this problem, and also to be clever and avoid the V-Day restaurant crowds, I decided we'd do dinner on Friday and dancing on Saturday.

Now, it's only about an hour out to Boston, but that's a lot of driving two days in a row (especially after a full work day) so I picked out a tapas place in Worcester called Bocado that's only about 20 minutes away. When I called to make a reservation I requested something for 8:30 or 9:00 so hubby would have time to shave and change, but the place was booked solid until 10:00! So much for beating the crowd! But the hostess said the kitchen was open until 1:00, and we usually eat late, so I took it.

Google maps said it would take about 20 minutes to get there, but since we were ready a little early (a miracle!) we had 30 minutes. Turns out that was a good thing since this place was kind of hard to find! But find it we did. It was tiny! I mean even in Boston it would have seemed small! In the North End it would have seemed normal. There were two long narrow rooms that were mainly bar area, and then a small square room in back for dining. Makes sense why they were booked till 10:00!

Anyway, we ordered our Sangria and sat down to check out the menu. There are certain things that you'll find on just about any tapas restaurant menu, and we have our set things we order just about every time we go out. Bocado, however, seemed to specialize rather heavily in the beef line, with two different kinds of Kobe beef, beef tar tare, beef carpaccio... and we don't normally eat beef. But in a spirit of gameness and a desire to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt, we ordered all the fancy beef the waiter recommended! We supplemented that with olives, roasted stuffed eggplant, and mussels in a cream sauce, as well as the requisite Saffron and cream potatoes. And I have to say, our overall opinion of the food was: MEH.

The sangria tasted very nice at first, a bit like they'd stewed some cinnamon in, but after a few sips it became sharp like maybe they just used cinnamon schnapps instead, and the rest of the meal pretty much followed suit.

The roast eggplant tasted like it had been accidentally boiled. The beef carpaccio was kind of drowned in chili-oil and badly needed a sweet counterpoint, like maybe they forgot to add the rioja syrup altogether. The Kobe sliders were ordered medium rare and came medium well and lacked any flavor (except the red onions on top.) The mussels were actually quite good, the cream sauce was just rich enough without being overpowering and a combination of fresh and sun-dried tomatoes rounded the flavors perfectly. The olives were, well, marinated olives- saltier and with fewer herbs than I prefer, but perfectly edible.

All in all it was disappointing enough that we didn't bother ordering dessert.

One thing they had that WAS EXCELLENT, however, was the musical trio playing in the bar. The website says they are called Pueblo Nuevo, and they played with all the subtle nuance that the food lacked! Oh so good, so good, and no room to dance! They played a beautiful Rumba into Cha-Cha version of Bessame Mucho, which is exactly what hubby and I danced to at our wedding, and we were kicking each other under the table with the urge to dance!

On the upside of our Valentine's festivies, dancing at Ryles was as fun as we remembered (that's where we met eachother- salsa dancing at Ryles!) I danced so hard I LITERALLY made myself sick! For hours afterward I felt like I was going to vomit! (I didn't.)

Now that's what I call a solid night of dancing!

Happily, I was a little exhausted but otherwise perfectly fine on Sunday.

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