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By Sharon Gittleman
Finding elegant dining in a relaxed comfortable atmosphere isn’t easy. Most restaurants force you to choose between chi chi meals and surroundings or noisy family-style dining. Boocoo is one of few places in town that bridge that gap. At boocoo, you’ll enjoy fine European-style meals served in a warm and cozy setting.
In the main dining room, you’ll see hardwood floors shined to a luster, subdued golden light glowing from wall sconces, simple table settings with small white votive candles and comfortable thickly-padded chairs. You’ll hear soft blues and light jazz favorites from the past playing gently in the background.
A wall-size wine rack borders the dining area, filled with dozens of bottles of your favorite merlot and chardonnay.
Near the dining room, a chandelier-like lighting fixture hangs from a ceiling, its above-light rack put to a unique use – as a storage area for boocoo’s crusty loaves of bread. Garlic bulbs hang from the rack, forming a unique fringe.
In a second main-floor dining area, the primary decoration is a large vintage circus triptych, complete with a female bareback rider on a white steed, acrobats and an old-fashioned clown.
The equally creative but simple menu at boocoo offers dozens of choices. Appetizers vary from almond-crusted calamari to wild mushroom ravioli, with selections priced from $9.95 to $13.95.
There are several salads, including a three-cheese three-tomato dish perfect for summer and the house boocoo mixed salad. Salads start at $4.95.
Entree selections include seafood, steaks, pizzas and a series of house specialties. You can order something fancy, like the lemon sole Veronique – a crab-stuffed fillet in a pastry, served over spinach, shitake mushroom and fennel surrounded by a red and green grape butter sauce, or you can choose something simple, such as the 28 oz. monster porterhouse steak. Selections vary from $15.95, for the comforting meat and pasta house specialty penne Bolognese to $39.95 for the porterhouse.
People who enjoy luxurious dining at a small price will welcome the early bird specials, served from 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Patrons are served a complete meal, from mixed salad to dessert for just $15.95.
I ordered from the early bird menu, choosing the char-grilled bistro beef medallions with house zip sauce.
The meal began with a generously-packed basket of hearty Old World-style crusty bread, served with European sweet butter and a boocoo mixed green salad. The champagne vinaigrette dressing added a gentle tang to the crunchy salad, which was packed with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, chopped eggs, garbanzo greens and croutons.
The entree looked and tasted delightful. Swirls of rich and creamy whipped potatoes brought back nostalgic memories of mom’s mashed potatoes – just kicked up a dozen notches in flavor.
The wax beans served that night had a crunchy bite, and the vegetable’s chopped green onions and spritz of pepper added zest.
The meat medallions were perfectly prepared – charred on the outside but tender and juicy to the taste. The zip sauce provided a subtle flavor kick, like a slightly peppery au jus.
Dessert was tiramisu with an almond crunch topping. Imagine a creamy sweet custard topped with candied almonds and you’ll get an idea of the delectable ending to my meal.
Boocoo has more virtues than its subtle decor and hearty menu choices. P.J., my waiter, was attentive and thoughtful, with a ready-smile and a gentle manner. Unlike many dining establishments, you’re not treated as if you were the property of a particular server. Ask any passing waiter or waitress for water or the ingredients of a dish and you’ll get a warm and immediate response.
Boocoo is the perfect spot for an elegant meal with family and friends.
Boocoo is located at 1824 W. 14 Mile Rd., in Royal Oak. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mon. through Fri. Dinner runs from 5-10 p.m., Mon. through Thurs. and 5-11 p.m., Fri. and Sat. For reservations or for more information call boocoo at 248-655-5000.