Sunday, December 8, 2013

Boca: Reinvented

Certainly the new Boca is the most spectacular dining room in Cincinnati--or even between Chicago (hard to match Spiaggia or Everest, to name two gorgeous settings) and, I don't know, Philly? The redo of the old Maisonette space is a visually magnificent addition to our city. Its centerpiece is a huge chandelier,surrounded by a lovely bar/cocktail lounge at the front side and an open kitchen in back. With added Christmas decorations -- tasteful, of course -- it's a deeply satisfying experience before you eat or drink anything.
(Doesn't do it justice) Boca Chandelier

With such a setting, what the kitchen puts out is almost incidental. Luckily, the food is on a high plane, close to as good as Boca was in its best days back in the Oakley location. Prices have ticked down a notch, too, making the evening feel like something of a bargain, or at least a solid value.
Whereas the restaurant used to offer only three- or four-course fixed-price dinners, now everything is a la carte. Furthermore, many if not most of the pastas and entrees come in two sizes, full or "tasting." That can keep the tab down, and also make it so that lighter eaters don't feel stuffed at the end of the meal.
We started at the bar with a glass of wine for me -- a lovely Alsatian pinot gris -- and a Belgian beer for my husband. At table, we each had a glass of wine, an appetizer (beet salad for him, grilled romaine for me) and an entree (Mediterranean Loup de Mer full portion for him and a tasting size simple stuffed pasta for me). We topped it off with dessert, too; the old Boca was weak in that area, but my panna cotta was my favorite course of the evening.
We had to make the reservation about 6 weeks in advance to get a Saturday night table, so you really do have to plan ahead. It's still a special-occasion meal, even though it probably set us back about $50 less than a similar dinner would have back in Oakley.
The ambiance alone makes it worth a visit, even if you just stop in for a drink at the bar and maybe an appetizer, just to see what they've done with the space.

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