Thursday night, both my roommate and I worked super late, so decided to treat ourselves to a dinner out instead of heading home to cook. There’s a ton of restaurants in the Upper East Side that we’ve been meaning to try since we moved in 6 months ago. We decided to check Bocado Cafe, on the corner of Lexington and 87th, off of our list.
The ambiance of the restaurant is really on-point – exposed brick, open shelving, and Edison bulb fixtures give the space a laid back and hip vibe. There’s a pretty extensive wine list and an American bistro-y Italian menu with lots of delicious appetizers and yummy entrees.
We both decided to start with a glass of the white sangria – unfortunately this was a bit of a letdown after a long, stressful day at work. The “sangria” was pretty much just a glass of orange juice with a few pineapple chunks and orange slices. And, while it tasted good, it was a bit disappointing when you just really want a refreshing (alcoholic) drink.
A positive follow-up to the sad drinks, we shared a great salad – arugula, sliced apples, candied walnuts, sliced dates and Manchego cheese. It was very light with a nice vinaigrette. The apple, cheese, and date combo was perfect and the peppery arugula with the sweetness of the dates was an unexpected but delicious mix. And, of course, who doesn’t love candied walnuts? Or candied anything for that matter. They could have served me a plate of just those and I would’ve been a happy camper.
For the main course, I was torn between a few options – I knew I really wanted some seafood so that helped narrow it down. Finally, I was between the crab cake sandwich and the smoked salmon pasta. I asked the waiter his opinion but he didn’t have one, so that wasn’t very helpful. So, then I asked if the pasta dish was really heavy; something I didn’t want. His insightful, “Well, it’s pasta, so it’s always heavy,” response was, again, not helpful.
Worthless comments aside, I went with the smoked salmon pasta, and I have to say that it was a big let down. Instead of having a salmon filet on top of a bed of pasta, the fish was all chipped up in the pasta itself, and the white sauce was very heavy. The “fresh dill” in the description was nonexistent in the actual dish. And, while the dish wasn’t terrible, it was extremely unphotogenic and unappetizing, and I wouldn’t ever order it again – or recommend it to anyone. Ever. Should have gone with the crab cake (a life lesson if I’ve ever heard one).
This place is definitely worth a stop for happy hour – the large bar, cool vibe and great wine list make it worthwhile for a return trip. I wasn’t jumping for joy over the food, but I think I maybe just ordered the wrong dish on the wrong night, though some others seem to agree. Glad I went and glad I didn’t have to cook, but I’m not heading back anytime soon for dinner. Apps and drinks? Definitely – the truffle fries on the appetizer menu are calling my name.