My wife and I are in Ottawa for the weekend. I have been following the current Ottawa discussions and suggested Bocado as the first place to hit. She said that there was a new place in Faroush's old location that she wanted to try and happily it was Bocado!
No reservation but no matter: we were quickly shown to a table and perused the menu. A interesting selection of pan-Mediterranean ranging from Moroccan to Italian to Greek influence, with a little of the south of France thrown in for good measure. The wine list was short but a well thought out selection with a few bargains thrown in. Seems to be a trend these days, one which I appreciate.
My wife starts with a salad of greens and zucchini fritters. The fritters are like zucchini pancakes and are crisp on the outside and surprisinggly creamy on the inside. Zucchini is not my favoutite vegetable but I could have eaten a whole plateful of these. I have the grilled octopus and calamari salad. It's a chance for me as I like grilled octopus but no big fan of grilled calamari. However the universe gets reversed with an interesting surprise: the calamari is perfect, without that really chewy texture it often has and pairs nicely with the balsamic dressing and I quickly scarf it down wanting more. But the one disappointment of the evening is the octopus I was looking forward to: there is a nice portion of it but it is mostly too well done. It is a more delicate animal than calamari and needs less grilling time. No matter: the calamari more than makes up for it.
We continue with a main of grilled quail for my wife and lamb sirloin with ratatouille nicoise for myself. The quail inlcudes three meaty quail nicely cooked and full of flavour, accompanied by grilled marinated red pepper, potato and, she thinks, some parsnip. She is happy with the intense flavour and quickly polishes off two of the three quail. My lamb sirloin is tender, succulent and perfect, stacked on the ratatouille and drizzled with a yoghurt based sauce. I am surprised at the portion of tender young lamb for $25 and the flavour is superb: perhaps the ultimate lamb experience! The ratatouille is equaly impressive and the use of (I think) sundried tomatoes and capers (nicoise?) brings an intense undercurrent of flavour to a vegetable stew of which I am not usually enamoured. A great dish!
To accompany all this we decide on a botle of Coronas Torres Temperanillo, a "chef's choice" at $30/bottle. A great bargain and a nice wine for the price.
To end we both decide on creme brulee, perhaps an overdone dessert these days but a favourite of ours nonetheless. However we are split: I loved it and really like the presentation. Rather than opt for the usual small diamter and deeper dish ramekins, Bocado has chosen to use a wide shallow dish. This allows for a maximum amount of surface area for the caramelized sugar, one of my favourite parts!. But while I am happy by wife thinke that the shallow dish does not allow the creaminess of the custard to shine through and the sugar overwhelms the dish. While we are split on this I think that it is just a matter of taste. Note that her reservations do not stop her from scraping her plate clean! She is then quick to point out that her reservation is a small one!
Overall we were extremely happy with the meal, the prices and the service, and both highly recommend it. Though there were a few VERY small glitches for the price, $125 with tax, but pre-tip, Bocado is a real winner and is very highly recommended. They also offer a very reasonably priced pre-fixe at $40 which I will definitely try the next time I'm back.
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