Saturday, January 19, 2008

Worcester, City on the Move Towards Damn Good Dining

So now that all that epic PR catching up is done, I can write about the fabulous dinner I had yesterday at semi-new restaurant Bocado, on Winter St. in Worcester. I went out with a friend from work, and we had a total blast.

Some light background...I was out of Worcester during the beginning of what I would call it's most progressive cultural phase, which is continuing today (although we'll see how that goes with Connie "I just let my dog chew on my head when I need a haircut" Lukes in office), so when I left, there were some good restaurants, but they were all of the same kind of generic type, without a lot of variance in the cuisine...all American and Italian stuff, with a smattering of teensy (though delicious) Mediterranean spots and the usual chains and delivery joints. And then I moved to DC.

If you've been to DC, you Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle ALONE, you can find anything you could possibly want - super fabulous seafood, Cuban, Ethiopian (eternal, ETERNAL thanks to Frank-Kay, Hey Ho, for introducing me to this food), GREAT Italian, GREAT fusion, fantastic Japanese, delicious Indian, awesome Tex-Mex, TRUE name it, you got it. I gained roughly a million pounds and loved every minute (perhaps not so much enjoying now, but there you go). Totally different from The Old Worcester, but little did I know that meanwhile, back at the ranch, Worcester was on a major upswing. Now, Shrewsbury Street is bangin', Winter Street and the Canal District is developing like crazy (as I walked to Bocado last night, I could see construction of a restaurant-y looking type going on in the basement of that same building), and the overall cultural vibe of Worcester has really been developing (or maybe just breaking into the public awareness more) in leaps and bounds.

Bocado is a tapas bar with a great atmosphere. Tapas is a Spanish "thing" and features small portions that are meant to be shared. For example, we ordered the "Bocado Experience for Two" which includes two charcuteria y queso (light meats and cheeses), five tapas, a fabulous, huge dose of paella with seafood and saffron rice, and churros with chocolate sauce. There is also a little pre-order dish of long, thin, crispy breadsticks with a tomato-y, cheesy, spicy dip. The whole thing cost $75, which is a huge value for the sheer volume of food you got.

The decor is really beautiful, all in reds and chocolate and blackboards. You walk into the bar, and go up some stairs to the dining area, where you're seated (in our case) at a beautiful brown leather curving bench with squooshy pillows. The light comes from several sources and is kept low, but my personal favorite light source was the beautiful red glass chandeliers hanging in the room. Great atmosphere, good vibe. Our waiter was constantly apologizing for taking too long, but in reality, his timing was perfect for my taste - I hate when waiters hover over you and are in your face every thirty seconds. It worked out perfectly and he was really helpful and friendly.

For our Charcuteria y Queso, we ordered the queso de cabra con miel (fried goat cheese with honey and almonds) and the idiazabal (a sharp, mildly smoky cheese made from sheep's milk). Both were really wonderful, and were served with some fabulous, soft bread. The queso de cabra was so smooth and flavorful, and the fried outer coating had just the right amount of honey and was a perfect contrast to the texture and flavor of the soft cheese. The idiazabal was also delicious...I felt it was similar to parmesan in texture and SORT of in taste, but much smoother and not as sharp.

My dining partner does not eat meat except for seafood, so I was going to take FULL advantage of being out with a pro-seafood person (Speed does not do seafood). So, for our tapas, we ordered atun de bocado (raw tuna with lemon basil crema, sweet potato chips and chili avocado), trio de marisco (a seafood sampler of crab and corn salad, house smoked salmon and marinated mussels), calamares con ajo y limon (fried calamari with garlic, lemon, parsley, and orange horseradish cream), bola de arroz frito con mozzarella (mozzarella stuffed crispy rice balls with basil aioli) and empanadas con cangrejo (baked cran and vegetable filled savory pastries). Whew! All of these had fantastic flavor and were perfectly cooked. The bola were particularly unique and delicious.

The paella was enormous, and since we had dessert coming, we didn't eat too-too much of it, but it was delicious and I plan on enjoying it for lunch shortly. We were right to wait for the churros, too, because they were perfectly done...crispy and soft in equal measure, with delicious cinnamon coating, and a light, smooth chocolate sauce.

It was a great night, and I highly recommend it! GO WORCESTER! GO BOCADO!

1 comment:

  1. I am hungry. Why did that restaurant have to open after I left the Woo? Poo. We are going next time I visit.