Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bocadillos: Alas, "tapas" is not Spanish for "topless."

[The most recent of Fosco's weekly restaurant reviews.]

This week, Fosco ventures even further afield from Santa Cruz in order to consider Basque tapas in San Francisco.

The regular reader may recall Fosco's earlier foray into Basque cuisine in Elko, Nevada. Fosco recalls fondly that hearty meal, but would expect few similarities between that food and the tapas at Bocadillos. After all, to Fosco, "tapas" might as well be translated as "too small to be filling" (which is the reason he typically avoids tapas restaurants). However, he did have one good reason to give Bocadillos a chance: "chef hot" (according to the Gawker Professional Hotness Scale) Rachael Ray.

Now Fosco doesn't quite understand why there is so much hatred of Rachel Ray. As television chef/personalities go, she seems to be one of the most likeable and inoffensive. She doesn't pretend to be a culinary genius (a la Bobby Flay, who should probably be flayed alive. HA!). She doesn't have an infernal catchphrase. She doesn't use a fake Chinese accent. At worst, sometimes her taste is a little middlebrow, but... so what? She's not trying to fool anyone. And how can you fault her for being enthusiastic about food? Isn't that, um, part of her job?

But anyway. I happened to catch Ray's recommendations for San Francisco and thought that Bocadillos looked enjoyable. Additional research confirmed its reputation and so, yesterday evening (after another afternoon at the SFMOMA-that place is addictive), I dropped in for an early dinner.

Because tapas must be accompanied by a drink, Bocadillos has a long, strange list of signature cocktails (in addition to many, many types of wine). I ordered the appropriately-named Euskadi cocktail: a blend of nigori-sake, cranberry juice, and lime juice. The presence of sake in a Basque-themed cocktail is somewhat inexplicable to me and, alas, I do not recommend it.

I'm afraid that this question may cause Fosco some difficulties in the "cultural sensitivity" department, but why are Basque cocktails so bad? The picon punch that I had in Nevada was also really unappetizing. Think I'm exaggerating? Here are two of the other cocktails offered at Bocadillos:

  • half sprite, half lager.
  • half Coke, half red wine.
The next thing you know, they'll be mixing milk and orange juice!

Luckily, the food at Bocadillos is better than the cocktails. The menu is long and there are so many appealing choices that settling on a few is difficult--truly, it would be best to bring several friends and share. However, as Fosco was alone yesterday (his personal assistant Geoffrey was still in Seattle, presenting his entry in the HUMP Amateur Porn Festival). Fosco (heroically) ate
  • a "bocadillo" (small sandwich) of house-made catalan sausage and manchego
  • marinated Moroccan beets: Fosco loves beets, especially as the marinade contained cardamom. Yum!
  • patatas bravas: twice cooked steak fries, tossed in red pepper and served with a delicious romesco sauce
Fortunately, the patatas in particular were quite filling, as Fosco was meter-parked and had to skip dessert.

The food at Bocadillos is good (if you avoid the cocktails), but, on the whole, I don't plan to return. The problem is the service, which was pretty obnoxious, actually. I was made to feel as if I were not quite hip enough to be there (especially strange as I was one of only two patrons there at the early hour--it's not like I was filling a chair that would otherwise have been occupied by Lindsay Lohan's vagina. Would they rather my chair be completely empty? Odd.)

Is it possible that Fosco just isn't cool enough to live in San Francisco? Hmmm.


abacus said...

You may be interested to hear that the abominable-sounding half-sprite, half-lager cocktail is an actual drink, quite popular in Germany, called a "radler." It's especially commonly found in beer gardens in the summer, where it's considered a lighter, more thirst-quenching alternative to the standard steinful. Not that this necessarily legitimizes it; you'll have to make your own decision about whether the Teutonic palate is a good barometer of yum.

FOSCO said...

Yikes. Well, I certainly do bow to German expertise on all things beer-related, so perhaps I need to try this "radler" before I condemn it. Thank you, abacus!