Rococo: east coast style
Revisit note: this review was originally published in July of 2009, but has been revisited and updated.
In our original review of Rococo (see below), we highlighted the fact that Bruce Rinehart and his team bring something very unique to Oklahoma City. It’s an experience we described as “East Coast Style,” and it’s something you don’t find much around this area of the country. Since the time our review was first published, Rococo has expanded their operation to a second, larger location at Northpark Mall. They continue to deliver a unique and quality dining experience now in two locations, so we thought it was worth revisiting and republishing our review of Rococo.
One of our writers, Jennifer, recently celebrated her birthday with a dinner at Rococo. She was kind enough to submit her thoughts on that experience and on Rococo in general, so that we could add another perspective to this review. Here’s what Jennifer had to say about Rococo:
“There are certain restaurants I frequent because they have a certain item on the menu that pulls me back every time. And then there is Rococo. I go back there as often as I can just to try something new because I have such confidence in their chefs’ abilities to create amazing food. Sure, I love their crab cake, their blue cheese cookies and their wild mushroom risotto side dish. But every time I go I am always drawn to a new dish or special they created that day. There is something incredibly comforting (especially for a non-picky foodie like me) to just trust a good chef to make you a great plate of food.
“On my most recent trip, there were 26 of us celebrating the 2nd anniversary of my 29th birthday. Rococo is a nice place, fancy even. Often, these places do not look kindly on huge groups of loud parties. Not Rococo. They had everything set up right on time, had two waiters dedicated almost solely to us, got the food out all right and in a timely manner, and the chef even came out several times to make sure we were enjoying our food and having a good time. I could not have picked a better place to celebrate being another year older. I didn’t hear a single complaint about the food or service, a miracle for such a large party. Another huge benefit was that they were open on Sunday night. I was surprised to find out once I started planning this party that not many restaurants are.
“I’ve also been to Rococo’s new location at Northpark. I love that there are multiple seating options here. You can sit at the bar, around the fireplace in comfy chairs or more formally at a table for a full meal. I went on a Thursday night for happy hour. We sat around the fireplace and the ambiance was great. They had a free appetizer bar that had some pretty regular fare but it was warm and a nice little treat. If you live in Northwest Oklahoma City, this is definitely a place you should check out.”
So, what do you think about Rococo? We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can add them to our comments at the bottom of this review. And, be sure to check out the content of our original review below.
Original review from July of 2009:
If you’ve read many of our reviews, you know that we’re always searching for the unique things restaurants offer to the Oklahoma City landscape. So, when Andrew and I visited Rococo’s, there was one thing that stood out to us above everything else — east coast style.
You feel it from the moment you walk in. The rich, dark, almost swanky decor is absent the southwest influence that we’re accustomed to around these parts. The seafood-rich menu and extensive wine list add to the vibe. But you really find out what this place is about when owner/chef Bruce Rinehart stops by your table, which he is almost certain to do. Spend just a moment conversing with Bruce and you’ll understand what is unique about Rococo.
Bruce spent a lot of time opening and running restaurants on the east coast, so you can understand where the style comes from. If you are from that region, I’d imagine Rococo would feel a lot like home. If you’re not, Rococo is still worth your attention for its other great strength — fresh seafood.
We actually get a lot of questions about where to get good seafood in Oklahoma City. Now that I’ve been to Rococo, I can say I think it’s a worthy seafood contender. There aren’t a great many places I know of that offer simple, fresh seafood presentations. Most of the time around here, seafood is fried or blackened or spiced up in some other southwestern or cajun-influenced way. But at Rococo, we had a beautiful presentation of their Petrale Sole filet ($18.75), lightly dusted with flour, sauteed in butter and served with capers, lemon pulp and tiny, delicate croutons. It’s rare to get to taste the actual fish as much as you could in this presentation, and the fish tasted great.
We also had the crabcake (market price) that Rococo is happy to claim as the best in the city. That might seem haughty to you, but I’d have to say that I agree with the claim. This is not a mixture of crab and other fillers pressed into a patty. This is a heaping mound of huge chunks of crab meat topped with a few types of breadcrumbs and baked. You order crab and you taste crab — and again, the crab tastes great.
In addition to the on-menu seafood items, Rococo offers off-menu specials that vary daily as they overnight fresh seafood from the coast as available. That’s right, here is a place where you can literally taste fresh seafood from the east coast. If you want to stay up on what’s fresh, subscribe to their email newsletter on their home page, or follow them on Twitter. We’re seeing a lot of restaurants really utilize Twitter lately and Rococo is one that does a great job communicating that way.
Alright, so I’ve given you a glowing picture of what I think Rococo does best — seafood with an east coast flair. But their menu doesn’t stop there. In fact, their menu is widely varied with steaks, chops, pastas, and even some sandwiches at lunch. It might even be a bit too varied in my opinion. Personally, I’d like to see them expand their seafood options and limit the other things, but that’s just me.
I mean, I haven’t tried all that many things, but I had a bit of the Penne Bolognese ($15.75 at dinner) and, while it was fresh and perfectly fine, it was lighter on flavor than I would typically expect from the rich Italian dish. There are other places I would put above Rococo for Italian food, at least based on what I experienced.
Andrew had the filet ($25.25 and $34.75), which was very well-cooked and flavorful with a really nice sauce that didn’t overpower. I had a bite of it and thought it was good as well. Nothing wrong with it and it’s a decent price, I’m just thinking there are lots of other places you can get steaks done at least as well.
One thing to keep in mind is that Rococo offers a pretty reasonable lunch menu. Sandwiches and smaller entrees are offered anywhere from $7-$15 making a good value when you’re looking for lunch.
So, my bottom line on Rococo is that they offer a lot of options and they do it all pretty well, but if you want to try the thing they do exceptionally well and that’s unique here in our fair city, go for the seafood, especially the crab cake and whatever seafood specials Bruce is flying in on the day you visit. This is where Rococo shines and can provide you with something you’re not likely to experience anywhere else in town.
What are your thoughts on Rococo? Let us know in the comments.