Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bossa Nova

If you blink, you will literally miss Bossa Nova. Bossa Nova is a tiny Brazilian restaurant located in SF's South of Market (SoMa) Neighborhood. About three blocks from the Civic Center BART station, the location is perfect for access to public transportation which will come in handy after a glass or two of Bossa Nova's well-made mojitos and caipirinhas. It is also very important to get your street smarts out of the bag when traversing this part of SF--sketchy, sordid and surrounded by social services agencies including homeless shelters.

Is Bossa Nova worth the trip?  Definitely. If you are looking for delicious, well-made drinks, decent tapas and a little Brazilian live jazz, Bossa Nova is the place. Bossa Nova is a also cute and cozy. The decor celebrates both Brazilian culture with a cross and altar hanging on the brick wall, a well as SF's culture--a pair of red erotic high heels suspended above the bar. In the evening the tealight candles make Bossa Nova a romantic place to grab a light dinner or Happy Hour with your friends.

I have been to Bossa Nova for close to half a dozen times already over the last two years.  One thing I can say, the fruit mojitos were consistently strong and good. The food were hit or miss. They could be the same dishes but sometimes they came out good, othertimes, disappointing.

I can say, though, that my last visit in July 2011, our dishes were executed better than the last time I was at Bossa Nova. We celebrated my friend Russell's birthday. I made a reservation through Opentable and mentioned the occasion.

We started with a round of Mojitos, Caipirinhas and a fruit juice for me.  I've had Bossa Nova's mojitos and caipirinhas many times before. They were always well-made, strong and delicious. Even my non-alc strawberry lemonade this time was yummy.

A tableful  of tapas followed. We thought the Organic Fresh Hearts of Palm Salad w/ Fresh Peas, Black Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, Chives & Red Wine Vinaigrette  $12.75 was superb. The salad was so full of flavors, light and refreshing.

All of our tapas were delicious and came to us at the right temperature. (My least appetizing dinner at Bossa Nova in the past was due to hot/fried dishes coming to us lukewarm but not this time.)

Brazilian Cheese Bread "Pão de queijo" $5.50: Delicious bite-size morsels of cheesy bread.
I personally loved the Steamed Mussels w/ Spicy Tomato, Cilantro, Coconut Milk Broth $15.75. I could not leave the broth alone even after all the mussels were gone.
The Fried Plaintains $4.75 when done right, i.e., delivered to the table hot off the fryer were actually nice, crunchy and savory. The spicy sauce that accompanied the chips complimented the salty-tangy taste of the chips.

The Steak Fries $4.75 were beautifully piled high on the plate. These thickly cut fries would have been great if they were not overfried to the point of being burnt. Since we were rounding up dinner we decided to not send them back.

We have had a few more tapas including Saltcod Croquettes which were hot and good with plenty of fish instead of being doughy with flour.

The most disappointing part of our dinner at Bossa Nova was the lackadaisical, luke-warm service that we received. In the past, Bossa Nova's friendly and warm service was its saving grace when dinner was less than satisfying.  This time, although our server was not mean or unkind, she appeared stressed out and uncaring. When it was time to order dessert for the birthday boy, we pointed to our friend and informed our server that it was his birthday. (I also mentioned during during my reservation through OpenTable.) We asked if she could put a candle on his cake. She half-smiled and told us "we do not have candles." She made a brief attempt to look in the drawers.

Needless to say, our birthday celebrant was deprived of a birthday candle and a round of embarrassing "Happy Birthday" song.

He truly loved and enjoyed his Chocolate Cake ($7.25), though, which was a hot molten lava cake--sans birthday candle. Oh, well...Happy Birthday, Russell!!!!

Tab: $120 after tax before tip for 5 people (5 alcoholic drinks and 1 fruit-juice)

Foodie Girl's Rating: 3 Stars
A great place for Happy Hour, well-made fruit mojitos and tapas. Live Brazilian music sets the mood for fun times with friends or solo R&R!

0 Star: Never again!!! These people should not be in business.
1 Star: Chalk it to bad experience. Live and learn.
2 Stars: Some are good. Some are okay. Some are bad.
3 Stars: Like! I will return!
4 Stars: Love! I will be dreaming of you at night!
5 Stars: Perfection (or close to!)

Bossa Nova SF on Urbanspoon

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