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Cafe La Boheme Opening Party Food Review - Disappointment

brieflunchcounter Oct 7, 2007 10:12 AM

I went to the reopening party for La Boheme last evening. The West Hollywood restaurant has been closed since July for a remodel and a change of menu. The new Pan-Asian menu was introduced to invited guests last evening in the form of tray-served hors d’œuvres. I asked if all the hors d’œuvres served last evening would be on the menu and was told many would be served regularly. Our party of four was completely underwhelmed with the food. The first hors d’œuvre we were served was a minced-meat filled wonton that was utterly tasteless. We asked the server if it was pork or chicken and he didn't know. After eating the wonton, neither did we. That was followed by a seared piece of 55-day aged meat on toast with a dab of cream sauce. This hors d’œuvre was the absolute winner of the evening's offerings and we were happy to see that selection come out of the kitchen twice. Forgettable sushi was next, dull and lackluster with hardened rice. I asked the server if sushi was going to be on the menu at the new Cafe La Boheme and he said it would be served at the bar. I'm guessing sushi may be one of the foods the restaurant gets right, as they have experience with it from their La Cienega-eatery, Gonpachi.

The biggest food disappointments also included the dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon. Even bacon couldn't save this nuclear morsel. Far too much blue cheese overwhelmed this little bite. More than one person at our table took one nibble and left the rest in a napkin. Just awful. Crabcakes were next. In fairness, they were cooked to a golden perfection. But the crab mixture was completely dry and tasteless. Nobody in our group finished theirs and we saw other guests depositing half-eaten crab cakes on any available space. The kitchen needs to get this right or drop it from the menu.

Firecracker shrimp followed. No culinary explosion, just a bite of mealy shrimp in innocuous coating. Then came the oysters in lime juice, served in shooter glasses. The two people in our party who had this, loved it. The big sin was the steak tartare. The texture had all the earmarkings of a food processor. Unforgivable. Even if chef Christine Banta was under a time constraint with the number of party guests, this was an unfortunate decision.

Some would say, food has always been La Boheme's weak spot. The decor may have changed slightly, but the weak spot is even more precarious than ever.

One final observation, service has also been a week spot for La Boheme. We may have discovered why last evening and leave the restaurant with a suggestion. Get your thug-like GM to lay off the servers and they will probably have less reason to stalk the restaurant floor with the look of taunted junkyard dogs on their faces. La Boheme's GM needs to dial down the anger directed at staff and customers for this revamped West Hollywood spot to succeed.

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  1. SauceSupreme RE: brieflunchcounter Oct 7, 2007 10:27 AM

    Not sure if a soiree is the best way to judge a restaurant. I'm ready to treat La Boheme as a brand new restaurant, even if it was just a renovation, which means that it'll take another month for things to get smoothed out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SauceSupreme
      brieflunchcounter RE: SauceSupreme Oct 7, 2007 12:36 PM

      I like your blog, Ron and your writing style. I look forward to reading your thoughts on La Boheme's new Pan-Asian menu, after your first visit.

    2. m
      milkymoment RE: brieflunchcounter Oct 16, 2007 08:38 PM

      I also attended the opening. The hors d’œuvres were fine. The oysters and spring rolls delicious. Does this writer have some vendetta against this place? His remarks sound like he has a personal problem with the GM. I was greeted with utmost charm and have booked a reservation for this weekend. The decor was gorgeous and I personally found the wait staff very friendly and helpful.

      1. beachbunnySD RE: brieflunchcounter Feb 10, 2008 08:39 PM

        went to la boheme (not my choice) the other night. not impressed. just so-so and terribly pricey. but it's LA so to be expected.

        my non foodie friends enjoyed the place. i thought the decor overshadowed the food. the risotto wasn't made to order. the fish was overcooked. the decor was too over the top. the pan-asian menu was passe. i'd skip the place altogether for anyone considering it. there are so many good restaurants in LA. don't waste your time and money on this one.

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