I was pleased to find La Bocca just fine, despite rumors of decline. I ordered my old standard salad, celery with apples and parmesan, and found it as refreshing as ever. My rich pasta with cream sauce and mushrooms was as over-the-top as I had hoped it would be. The house Sangiovese pleased our foursome at a modest price. On a crowded Saturday night our busy waitress managed to turn up just when needed.
I did as I often do and had my protein as an appetizer: carpaccio. It was very good, served with arugula and a tasty sauce. My only regret was that the sauce was on every piece of carpaccio, so I couldn't taste the meat alone. My friend liked his soup of the day. Then I had the "vegetali," grilled vegetables with polenta. True, there isn't much polenta, but the small amount gave me permission to eat more of the delicious bread, which the waiter said he knew wasn't made in the restaurant (the foccacia is made there) but didn't know where. The vegetables were fine, with no hint of the petroleum taste you sometimes get with grilled vegetables. I think my friend liked his pappardelle. $38 for the least expensive pinot grigio is criminal, however.
We'd gone after reading some of the negative reviews here, hoping for better. It did start out well: I thought my watercress/endive salad was an unusual, delicious combination, and the dressing and a few dried cranberries were a perfect treatment. My wife loved her crab cake. But then came the entrees: my pork roast tasted as if it had been cooked multiple days previously, then reheated, though the bread stuffing/pudding was good. My wife thought her cavatelli with mushrooms was doughy and uninteresting. Oh, well.
Last couple of times had been disappointed, but this time everything was good--even bread with garlic bean spread. We split a salad and brandade croquettes to begin; croquettes were light, crunchy, but tasted of brandade. Then both had lobster special, poached in butter, with fines herbes reduction. Wow. Finished by splitting fig bread pudding, also good. Maybe it was the butter in almost everything. Or maybe it was the Riesling, fruity yet tart.
Surprisingly good food for the moderate prices. David Hammond's summary nails one of the reasons: lots of sweetness. But I confess I did not find it cloying. I had a house salad and then the arctic char; they let me have the fish with very good sweet/sour cabbage, which made a nice combination. The nontraditional banana cream pie was also very good. Lots of customers!
All Reviews »
It's been a while since I ate here: they've invested in fancier plates. The menu seems quite similar, however. I ordered an old favorite, the celery and apple salad, and found it oddly disappointing. Not sure if there wasn't as much lemon juice/dressing as usual, or if the celery was bland, or what, but it wasn't the revelation I remembered. But I did really like my fish item: grilled octopus. Fresh, perfectly cooked, sitting up on the plate like it had been alive minutes ago. I guess I should have ordered a side of something to go with it, but didn't. Instead I ordered pistachio ice cream, which was reminiscent of vanilla custard. I think it had ground pistachios in it, but not the artificial pistachio flavor I'm used to.
It's amazing that the quality of the food and service continue to be so high here, given the high incidence of transient customers: tourists, families in from the suburbs, etc. I believe our whole party of four enjoyed their meals: I had the "almost caesar" and the lamb shank. The latter came with very tasty Morroccan-spiced couscous. We split a couple of apple "pies"--more like crisp, really--for dessert, enjoying the carmel ice cream that came with it as well.
This continues to be a household favorite. We both started with the endive salad, which was sparked with roquefort. I had grilled salmon that came with pureed parsnips as good as I make at home and green haricot-vert style baby green beans as bad as the ones at the grocery store. My wife liked her roast chicken. We both loved the millas de Bourdeaux we split for dessert: pastry with creme filling, topped with dried cherries and excellent caramel sauce. Service was professional as usual.
My third visit in 18 months. Food still outstanding, service comfortable but attentive, interesting crowd. I had the asparagus salad Milanese (perfectly grilled stalks with sauce, cheese, a fried egg, and a green I didn't recognize) followed by the pike (two modest slices, not much battered but deep fried, served in a tower over sauce and black [?] rice). Portions just the right size for me. Bread excellent. My wife liked her beet salad and risotto as well. The Maritson sauvignon blanc (recommended on the menu!) was very good and fairly reasonable.
Is this a 3-backwards-R restaurant? It is crowded, full of people seeming to have a good time. Out of the six items we ordered, two were outstanding (fried calamari: light, tender, and mild; four-cheese and chicken rissoto: incredibly cheesy, rich, but with an excellent chicken flavor); one good (creme caramel); one acceptable (caesar salad: it seemed to have been made and dressed a few minutes ahead, and the core of a head of romaine was included); and two disappointing (don't know what was wrong with the spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, but my friend didn't like it; the cookies I ordered for dessert were utterly boring). Service was barely okay; our waitress seemed to have too big a set and her friendliness just barely outweighed her long absences. So, I'd say it's not quite a 3-backwards-R restaurant, but perhaps the gentle prices make people forgiving.
The pleasure of good food with little pretense continues. My special fish, Walleyed Pike, was excellent, and I heard no complaints about the seafood linguine or filet that others ordered. My shared desert, a "banana split"--but quite a bit more--was also very good. The small room is one of the most comfortable in the city. We were delayed for our reservation on this Sunday night, but they reassured us when we called and seated us immediately when we finally made it.
I'd been for lunch with 4 people a couple of days before, and found Quartino fine. But tonight, by myself, I was really impressed. I've eaten many an arugula salad in my day, but never a one this good: the arugula was tiny--barely more than sprouts. But it was full of flavor, like late summer arugula grown in one's own garden. Perhaps it was partly the accompaniments: perfect olive oil, oranges, and little wisps of red chiles. The other incredible thing was the $4 dessert I picked: profiteroles. For that price, one would have been fine. But they served two: fresh-out-of-the-oven crisp with wonderful chocolate sauce and a snowstorm of crispy almond shavings. My pizza (sausage) had mentioned fennel on the menu. Perhaps they meant fennel seed: I tasted a slight licorice taste coming from somewhere. But bits of crispy fennel, the vegetable, which I had [perhaps wrongly] expected from the menu, were missing. But the crust was perfect. All in all, one of the best meals for one I have ever consumed.
All Comments »