Bocado (CLOSED)

  • Restaurants
  • European
  • Spanish
47 Yongfu Lu

This venue has closed.

Tapas is experiencing a renaissance, it seems, a fact not unnoticed by Charles Cabell, former owner of Mesa & Manifesto. Following the termination of Julu Lu veteran Mesa’s lease in July, the Brazilian restaurateur flipped his fortune to create an authentic, undressed Spanish dining room amid the bar-stop bustle of Yongfu Lu.

Perched beneath The Apartment, Bocado’s interior is blessedly at odds with its surroundings. The looming colonial ceiling fans, dark wooden furniture and warm ochre walls seem to breathe country air, while the candlelit tables and red carnations echo an intimate feel. The enormous industrial windows and concrete beams (some are wooden with a concrete effect) add a deliberate modernist edge.

As for the tapas, Bocado is all about simple, well-executed dishes such as old faithfuls tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelette, 28RMB) and pulpo a la gallega (octopus, 62RMB). While the patatas bravas can’t match El Willy’s, other dishes on the 14-strong list shine – although few truly wowed us. The sauce for the langostinos al pil-pil (62RMB), sautéed prawns with garlic in olive oil, is so deliciously spicy and pungent we tip the near-empty pot to get to the last dregs of sauce.

Bocado PaellaThe mains are likewise solid but unspectacular. The paella de pescado (138RMB/person, minimum two people) is moist but bland and the prawns have a mushiness that signals they were killed too long before cooking. Look out for signature variations, such as the bacalao (codfish, and a Portuguese staple) confit with asparagus (188RMB). Here the fish is unsalted and given a soft texture by preserving it in oil; though the lack of salt would have traditionalists up in arms.

As the aforementioned dishes suggest, Bocado is a perilous place for vegetarians – all the mains contain meat or fish. The only respite for non-carnivores comes in the form of veggie tapas dishes such as the delicate mushroom and truffle croquettes (42RMB).

The wine, impressively, caters to every pocket. Bottles range from unheard of low-priced whites, starting at 270RMB, to more recognisable names like Cloudy Bay (550RMB). On one of our visits we guzzled down a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva (340RMB) – a great complement to the lamb. The striking, polished horseshoe bar also offers draft beers for 50RMB and red and white sangria (300RMB/pitcher, 170RMB/half).

When Cabell left Mesa, he took the kitchen staff with him and added to it by hiring Jose Lara from Malaga in southern Spain. On our anonymous visit, Cabell sashayed from table-to-table like an undercover waiter, pausing to open napkins and adjust settings. He exudes effortless charm that could give resident colossi El Willy, Mistral and El Patio something to chew on, providing the dishes are perfected. For now however, the service from the disarming Cabell and the graceful understated decor outshine the talent in the kitchen.

Charlotte Middlehurst

Venue name: Bocado (CLOSED)
Opening hours: 5-11pm, dinner; 5pm-2am Mon-Sat
Metro: Shanghai Library
English address: Second Floor, 47 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu, Xuhui District
Chinese address: 徐汇区永福路47号2楼, 近复兴西路