And I was surprised as she pulled in to a parking lot that once housed a gas station on Platt Street. The building was also home to another restaurant at one time, but now was reincarnated as Boca Kitchen Bar Market. We drove up to the valet parking stand and left our chariot in the capable hands of the young gentleman who opened our doors and offered a hand to my bride as she exited the vehicle.
We had made reservations through the restaurant and were promptly seated. Our most charming server for the evening, Devin, presented us with menus, ice water, and inquired of our preferences for an adult beverage.
Boca has some seriously eclectic choices in beer from domestic to craft brews in cans and bottles, such as PBR on the domestic side and Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils on the craft side. We were both leaning towards wine for our libation of the evening and Devin had a couple of excellent recommendations. Wine may be ordered by the bottle or the glass and four glasses equals the bottle price.
One of the reasons the love of my life chose Boca was because of my affinity for raw oysters on the half shell, and Boca has them. Be still my thumping gizzard! Three varieties were being offered that evening: two from the upper East Coast, and the third was a Gulf Coast oyster. Unfortunately, some hawg dawg had just polished off the last of the Gulf Coast oysters so I could only avail myself of the two from up north.
Truth be told, I am an oyster snob. Having grown up around the oyster capital of Florida I know how to shuck'em and serve them. This is a talent rarely found in restaurants south of the Panhandle. Devin assured me that they had a master shucker and I would not be disappointed. He was right!
I ordered a couple dozen of each and they were all perfectly shucked and presented. These oysters were salty and delicious, and came with two dipping sauces. I eschewed both. The oysters required nothing to enhance their flavor.
Devin had suggested a Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc to accompany my mollusk choices and this was a perfect pairing. The chilled white with the briny oysters was as a match made in heaven.
While I was slurping down my oysters, my bride was enjoying a small plate of Baked Feta with crispy phylo, pickled chow chow, and micro greens. I was offered a taste and we both agreed that this was a winner. With the feta she sipped on a glass of Westside Troublemaker, a red California blend. This was another excellent Devin recommendation.
For our entrees, we chose the Braised Short Ribs with potato, bacon hash, with buratta stuffed tomato gratin for her, and the Oak Grilled Ribeye Flank Steak with cippolini onion, plum tomato, baby portobello with truffle, and Parmesan pomme frites for me.
My bride's choice was superb! The short ribs just melted in la boca, and who doesn't love anything with bacon. This dish paired very well with the Westside Troublemaker.
I had to question Devin on my dinner choice. A ribeye and flank are two entirely different cuts of beef. A ribeye flank on the other hand is the "spinalis dorsi" -- commonly referred to as the cap of the ribeye -- the heavily marbled muscle running around the outside of a center-cut ribeye steak. That sounded good to me, so I requested mine be cooked to a medium rare.
The presentation of the ribeye flank was spectacular as the meat was served hanging from a metal rack positioned just above the pomme frites. This allowed the au jus from the steak to enhance the flavor of the fries. The server who brought this dish removed the steak from the metal rack so that I didn't have to go all gaucho and carve a chunk churrascaria style.
The flavor of the ribeye flank was perfect. The chewy strands of connective tissue that ran through the meat made masticating difficult to impossible. A manager approached and inquired of our meal and I advised him of the toughness. He said that he would have the kitchen cook up "a better cut of ribeye flank".
I wondered why I didn't get that to begin with, but I only said not to bother. I was actually rather full what with the oysters, my pomme frites, and sampling from the plates of my dining partner.
I got the replacement steak anyway, and it was still tasty due to the seasonings, but it was overcooked and tough as a flank steak. It did not remind me of "beef butter" (see video below). After a couple of bites I gave up. I was getting too tired to chew at this point anyway. It was a nice gesture, though.
Dinner for two with the oysters, more than a few glasses of wine, our entrees, and a well deserved gratuity for Devin came to a tad less than $250.00.
Would we return to Boca?
To learn more about the ribeye cap (at about 1:40), take a look at the following video: