Cooking with care, imagination and sophistication, Executive Chef Bruce Rinehart has run his flourishing Rococo Restaurant & Wine Bar at 2824 N. Pennsylvania with chef Don Duncan.
A friend and I stopped by on a recent rainy weeknight. We both have eaten at the Penn location and were anxious to see how the Rococo NP compared with the original. Inside, with Executive Chef Jason Bustamante at the stove, we glanced at the 18-inch tall menu, and it was quite obvious that with great seafood, Rinehart remains fiercely loyal to his home base on the East Coast.
To get started, we ordered the Rococo jumbo lump crab cake (the market price was $16). Those plump, tasty cakes are the signature dish of the original location, too, presented with a small field salad tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.
right, Jason Bustamante shows off Rococo's jumbo lump crab cakeFor our main entrees, we put ourselves in the hands of Rinehart and our able server, Michael Curd.
One suggestion was the panroasted rib-eye ($29.25). The beef was cooked in-pan with high heat, giving the seared meat hundreds of new flavor compounds, leaving it with a more complex taste. Sauces for each steak are made individually with reduced liquids and drippings from the pan. This particular sauce was done with roasted shallots.
Another suggestion was the yellowtail fish ($45), a white, oily, ocean fish from Hawaii, usually found in sushi restaurants.
The succulent fish was presented with chunks of lobster on top. The seafood had been pan-roasted with lemon and olive oil, and glazed with a rich, winning bordelaise sauce (red wine, brown stock, bone marrow, shallots and fresh herbs). On the side, a unique coleslaw was comprised of julienned jicama, carrots and green onions, all tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette and combined with jalapeño slices and toasted garlic. It was finished with fresh mint.
All that remained was dessert.
The enjoyable crème brûlée ($6) had a brittle, but slightly burnt caramel topping, typical of the French treat. Another showstopper was the Russian cake ($7.50), drenched in vodka. Both desserts were made with top-notch ingredients, and the perfect finale to an exquisite meal.
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Photo by Shannon Cornman