The Westside is exploding! From Abattoir to Miller Union, art galleries to furniture stores, The West Egg and Baccanalia now have a new slew of gentrified neighbors. Bocado is the latest boom….ST and I visited Saturday night. The staff was more than accommodating as our asses arrived an hour late.
Brian Lewis, the owner of Bocado, is not British but he begs the description (spoken with a British accent) of a “brilliant fellow”. His personal attention throughout our meal was charming. He recommended a hearty, spicy red and does a stellar job with the wine program, owing in part (I’m sure) to his family’s vineyard.
Bocado means mouthful in Portugese, although the menu is entirely American. I don’t get that.
The space is modern, spare, fresh. ST described it as vibrant. I like that. The crowd is hip and they know it. Light wood tables and matching mod chairs rest upon the ubiquitous concrete floors. Some walls sport shades of green. Only a tiny vase of sage and thyme decorate each table. Stainless steel lamps hang above the central servers’ station. I can imagine it will be awesome to sit on the patio here in the Spring.
We started with mussels and brussels, not because it rhymes (although that would be a compelling reason) but because I love both. Bocado’s mussels rest in a white wine broth with shallots, basil, and chilies. Not bad, not great, a little plain I guess. Unfortunately, I could not detect any chilies which would have added some much-needed zing. Brussels sprouts boasted a vinegary tang from the capers, and were further dressed with thyme, parmesan, and tiny croutons. A bit undercooked and underseasoned for my taste.
It’s impossible not to compare Bocado to Miller Union, particularly since B and I ordered clams (served in their shells like mussels) and brussels there as well. Sorry, but Miller Union kicks Bocado’s ass. Their clam’s broth was a heady combination of bacon and fennel, the brussels were soft, charred in bacon drippings with herbs.
As a third starter I considered the veal cheek with creamy polenta or the crab fritters with an Asian salad, but ended up with the damn foie gras even though it was au torchon. I don’t even like that preparation but I still could not resist! It was the sweet potato and date condiment that convinced me. Again, disappointment reared its ugly head. The slice of foie gras sat upon a condiment that tasted only of applesauce. Chicken liver “goodness” comes with applesauce….maybe they served me the wrong liver to see if I knew the difference? Hmmm. Regardless, we spread it on the toasts and ate it.
On to the entrees there are a couple of items that I’ve been reading about….one blogger loves the burger stack, another loves the pimento cheese sandwich. I would never order a pimento cheese sandwich without a strong recommendation but I had to see what all the fuss was about. The components of this sandwich are roasted poblano, pimento cheese, bacon, and fried green tomato….sounds like a clusterfuck to me. Well, it wasn’t. It was kickass! The warmth of the roasted pepper, fried green tomato and toasted bread just barely melting the pimento cheese, served with a flavorful bowl of tomato bisque.
The burger stack was similarly drool worthy. A stack of three thin yet juicy patties with American cheese and housemade pickles, served with pretty good fries. I like my burgers thick, cooked medium, but since this is a stack of patties they are more medium-well to well. Not as good as The Nook’s awesome burger with smoked gouda and bacon but still worth a try.
Other plates include a flatiron steak, Chesapeake flounder and oyster stew. Four artisinal cheeses are offered as well. Executive chef Todd Ginsberg, formerly of Trois, stopped by our table. Unpretentious, a genuinely nice guy.
Dessert looked better than it tasted…..chocolate pudding with peanut butter whipped cream served in a Mason jar. The texture of the pudding was extremely dense, almost like fudge. It was just OK.
I really want Bocado to thrive but I fear the fierce competition in this hot neighborhood could suffocate it before it has a chance to find its identity.
887 Howell Mill Road 404-815-1399 www.bocadoatlanta.com