Friday, December 4, 2009

Like I said . . .

Last night my girlfriends and I set out on our annual holiday trek to the Lori Bonn friend and family sale followed by dinner. 

As in previous years, I tagged along mostly for the fun, company, and food, claiming to be "not much of a jewelry person." (I'm also not much of a make-up, hair style, or clothing person either, which goes a long ways to explain the mess I usually am.)

I saw and tried on lots of pretty things and admired the pieces the girls picked out, but I just did not see anything that I felt would significantly improve my life. It was a lovely event though, and if I ever need jewelry I will buy it from Lori Bonn. They are the nicest people ever. When I arrived, one of the Lovely Lori Bonn Ladies greeted me, remembering my blog posts about them from past years and immediately pouring me a glass of prosecco.  When I left empty handed, she graciously noted that they consider it a compliment that I wear a single piece of Lori Bonn jewelry since I am "not much of a jewelry person." Nice that she remembers that. And even nicer that she seemed to think that was ok. 

For dinner, we too advantage of the fact that Oakland is becoming quite the mecca for dining (a recent local magazine declared Berkeley and San Francisco "done") and repaired to a new place at Jack London Square.

Bocanova is billed as pan-American grill, and like other restaurants in the area has retooled an old industrial space. This building used to be an ice house. 

I love that they've taken a complete U-turn from the ice idea and decorated in warm tones with soft lighting.

Liked: The food.

The menu is all small plates—perfect for the indecisive. The halibut ceviche was particularly good. I'm fussy about fish or meat I perceive to be raw or rare, and even I liked it. I'm also fussy about scallops if they're the least bit chewy or gritty, and I thought these were perfect. The curry sauce was nicely balanced, not overpowering the way curries can be.

Endive, hearts of palm, avocado with a sherry vinaigrette

Dungeness crab deviled eggs with chipotle aioli

Sea of Cortez scallops with Brazilian curry sauce

Tasty, generous portions for a small-plates menu. We liked.

Not so much: The service.

Since the wine list is composed of mostly obscure Spanish and Portuguese wines, they thoughtfully sent over a man who identified himself as "the wine buyer" and then proceeded to interview us on our wine tastes. I refrained from explaining I like almost anything that is not really awful. But seriously, we had not even looked at the menu, so what we more or less told him was that we needed a wine that would go with anything and wasn't too anything (fruity, large, etc.). So much for pairing. I can't remember what we allowed him to bring us, but it was fine. 

Things went downhill in my mind with the waitress, who introduced herself as being there to "take care of us." God, I hate this. She is there to take our order and bring us our food. If she wants to take care of me, she can start with figuring out how to pay for my kid's braces, how to work in three physical therapy appointments a week and still get to the gym, and how to deal with my mother and the Christmas holidays. She claimed to be there to help us. I do not need help ordering food from a menu. After we insisted on being allowed to look at the menu for a few minutes by ourselves, she popped back asking if we had any ideas and reported that she yet put in an order. Of course not given that we had not yet ordered anything.  It was also annoying that she thought it necessary to explain the small-plates concept as if we had not eaten out in the past five years. Small plates are different but hardly unique, and we are not stupid.

But as much as we enjoyed the ambiance and food, I was particularly thrilled with the high-velocity hand dryer in the restroom. It blew air so hard that it rippled your skin so it looked like melting plastic. Cool! If I had had a video camera, you would be watching a YouTube video of this. My girlfriend Janine tells me there is one at Brower Center in Berkeley where you put your hand between rays of light. I've got to check that out. Call me easily amused. 

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