I'm Gonna Retire in Boca (Bocadillos -- San Francisco, CA)
I am of the opinion that Basque cuisine is some of the best in the world. In fact, I think the most interesting food you'll ever eat can be found in the border regions of Europe: France/Italy, Germany/France, Italy/Switzerland and, of course, France/Spain where the aforementioned Basque yumminess lives.
Gerald Hirogoyen has rocked our world with his native treats,and we've long been fans of Piperade, his Basque restaurant in the financial district. So when we heard he was opening Bocadillos, a small plates restaurant that still paid homage to his Basque roots, we couldn't wait to go.
But we're lazy. And Bocadillos was also in the financial district. Neither one of us works there, and getting there can be a huge pain in the ass, so despite our desires to try it, we kept putting it off. Boy, were we the most stupid ass fools you've ever seen because we missed just about a year of some of the most fun, interesting and tasty eats this side of the red states.
Bocadillos means little sandwiches. And there are a bunch of them on the menu. We went for dinner, which meant there were fewer than during the day when they serve breakfast/lunch/and-whatever-you-want-to-call-stuffing-your-face-at-any-time-of-the-day. During the week, Bocadillos is open from 7 in the morning until 11 at night. How much does that fucking rock?
We were there for dinner with our partners in crime, K&B. We met them there. As soon as we got there, we knew it was our kind of spot: no reservations (I really love when restaurants do that -- it allows for spontaneity AND good food at the same time), counter seating and a communal table down the center only. No room for attitude here. Silverware is in canisters on the table, along with paper menus so you can use them to drool on once you see your food.
Bob brought some wine, which was great, as always, but we ordered some, too. Jon and I were pleased to see that they had what we call "anniversary wine" since we had it at Aqua on our first anniversary, and have had it just about every anniversary since. It's a Basque wine called Txomin Extaniz, and despite almost four years of practicing, I still can't say that fucking name. No matter -- it's white, it's crisp, it's cheap as your mama on a Tuesday night. I love it. So we had some of that.
There is one problem at Bocadillos and that is that everything on the menu makes me swoon like a schoolgirl. But that problem was quickly solved by the greatest server that ever lived, our fabulous waitress. We said, "hey, it all looks good so just start bringing stuff and we'll stop you when we are full." That's right, bitches, I said bring it! (Sorry, I know this isn't a cheerleading movie).
So she started bringing. Here's what we got:
Chilled prawns with heuvos diabolo. Basically the best deviled egg ever with a chilled prawn and together they were ultra sexy. I don't even like deviled eggs!
18 month old serrano ham. I mean, c'mon, does it get any better?
Prawns with garlic and lemon confit. Yum, yum and more yum.
Tai snapper ceviche. This was possibly the best thing we ate, and definitely in the top three things I've eaten so far this year. It was light but the flavors were so layered and complex; It's like the food version of a rubix cube.
Selection of artisanal cheese. We all love cheese (K used to own a cheese shop) so these cheeses were gone in about .5 seconds. They were all super.
We had some brussels sprouts with pancetta -- great, great and great.
Scallops with sherry and orange were well executed but I wouldn't order them again. Not super exciting compared to the other stuff. Same goes for the calimari (fyi, we requested the calimari -- it's a good barometer-- so the waitress was not responsible for that choice).
We finished up with some rice pudding and some macaroons with pistachio ice cream. Both were scrumptious but the macaroons were so good that I would make a special trip there just to eat them. They're chewy and creamy and could you please drive me there right now???
There is so much to love about Bocadillos. The food is delicious, comforting and in some cases, revelatory; the staff is sexy, friendly and knowledgeable; the restaurant itself is relaxed and inviting. It's so comfortable, in fact, that the people next to us offered us some of their potatoes when we commented that they looked good (we declined as we had already eaten our weight in Basque delights). I want to move in.
Go check 'em out -- they'll become your girl Friday, too.
"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld