BF’s Birthday Dinner 2014 @ Bocanova (Oakland)

Every year, I take the BF to a steak dinner for his birthday. For his birthday in 2014 which is just after Christmas and before the New Year, his birthday venue of choice was fully-booked. I could not get a reservation for House of Prime Rib in SF until January 2015.

LOCATION: Bocanova was still a great choice. Located at Jack London Square, JLS was gorgeous during the holidays. It was so festive with giant Christmas tree and holidays lights. It would have been romantic for us to take a walk at the waterfront but my guy left his coat at home. It was a very cold evening.

DECOR: Bocanova itself is a beautiful restaurant. The decor is Spanish-inspired. It was classy yet cozy with tables and chairs made of heavy wood.

CUISINE: The cuisine is Spanish-New American. Our friendly server told us that the dishes are served tapas-style and meant to be shared. However, the main dishes were generously portioned while the small plates were indeed small. As such, we ordered way too much and had plenty of leftovers that we took home.

EATS:

(Why not start with dessert first, right?!)

  • CHOCOLATE CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING WITH MEXICAN CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM $10: Highly-recommended by our server and he was nice enough to put a lit birthday candle before serving to the birthday boy. The BF made a wish, blew the candle and devoured the dessert. I had some and it was really, really good!
  • BARBECUE RIBS $19 AND HALF ROASTED CHICKEN $21: Big portions, juicy and good. The chicken was nice and moist. We had to take half of these home. Good choices.
  • PLATANOS MADUROS $9 —braised pork, queso fresco, black beans, crème fraîche . I have read enough rave reviews about this appetizer that I was glad that I ordered this. Savory with lots of  multidimensional flavors. Definitely get this!
  • OYSTER PLATE $11, SEASONED RICE $12 AND FRIED PEPPERS $9: Skip all of these! The oysters were just okay and the sauteed peppers were not worth the $9 tag. I get these mild peppers at the farmers market for $1 a bag and make them at home. Nothing special. The seasoned rice was tiny and overpriced for $12.

VERDICT:

Bocanova is a good place to share a meal among friends, for romantic date nights or to imbibe at the bar. The dishes were interesting and well-executed. Value was good if you choose the right dishes. Stick with the main dishes.

What matters most was that the birthday boy was happy with his meal.

RECOMMEND: Platanos maduros and chocolate bread pudding with mexican chocolate ice cream.

$142 including tip, sangria (meh!) and 2 Arnold Palmer

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