Like walking onto the set of an opera, there is something theatrical and almost over-the-top about Boca, with its enormous chandelier, floor-to-ceiling draperies, and grand staircase. Balancing all of this, though, is food that, for all of its elegance and polish, is almost rustic in its appeal.
In all of his restaurants, Chef David Falk understands that people want to be served in grand style and enraptured by atmosphere, but what most of us want on the plate is not more fancy stuff. We want the sort of flavors that might have come, if not actually from our grandmother, then out of the idealized grandmother’s kitchen in our imaginations. You can call the salad haricot vert, but they are still just green beans, and the dressing of runny egg and sherry vinaigrette, with its butter-fried croutons and pops of slivered hot peppers, may not reinvent the wheel, but when it comes together on the plate a kind of magic happens. Why is this so good? you wonder. How are they pulling this off? It’s just a bean salad! Even wonders of culinary technique, like the slow-cooked brown butter Brussels sprouts or the resurrection of the Maisonette’s pommes soufflés, are deployed only in the name of connecting to diners on this soulful level. Part of Boca’s greatness, and what keeps it almost continuously full, is the insistence on only putting out food that satisfies that deep need. The addition of Pastry Chef Megan Ketover, formerly of Orchids at Palm Court, has moved desserts at Boca into wonderful new territory, especially the chocolate bavarois with passion fruit jelly. It is hard to communicate the intricacy and beauty of this dish. Like much else at Boca, you are just going to have to go taste it for yourself.
114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, (513) 542-2022, bocacincinnati.com