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Nov 3, 2009 11:03 AM

Caffe Boa (Tempe) - now with Chef Payton!

I was already planning on going to Caffe Boa last night, even before New Times' Chow Bella reported the big menu change & posted the new menu! Early word was that they were going to make menu changes gradually -- well, that went right out the window! Payton said there were 4-5 things remaining from the previous menu. If you've got a resource like Chef Curry, you may as well run with it! :-)

My usual dinner companions are out of town, so I went on my own. The only downside of that is that I only got to sample a couple of things. (So far. That'll be remedied soon enough.)

I started with the scallops with tajarin pasta. Scallops perfectly cooked, sauce both mouth rich & flavorful, but not heavy. Excellent.

I knew if I had a pasta & a main, I'd be taking home leftovers -- but that's not a bad thing! I went with the duck. Sliced duck breast, lovely, with sides that make it a fabulous dish. A dense, yummy potato gratin, a sweet date & squash ragout, & some lovely little slightly-bitter greens. All the parts perfect with each other -- the rich from the potato, the sweetness from the ragout, but neither of those overpowers the duck, & the greens cut the richness & give good texture contrast. It was soooo gooood! (One thing to be aware of: Payton generally likes to do duck pretty rare, & he uses good product that warrants that. I'm OK with that, but imagine some people would prefer a bit more cooking.)

I brought home a dessert, along with my duckie leftovers. They were calling it a napoleon, but it's actually a chocolate ganache tart, with a whipped cream & thin chocolate layer over. Not at all a napoleon (a personal pet peeve of mine ;-) ), but an excellent rich, killer chocolate dessert.

The wine list looks very good. I didn't have any problem finding a white & a red on the by-the-glass list that complemented the food perfectly. And front patio dining area is nice for this time of year.

Sooo, I'm really happy with the way this is going! This is going to work out well. :-)

Caffe Boa
398 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281

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  1. Thanks for the great review! I'm really looking forward to visiting Caffe Boa, and Chef Payton's new menu.

    1. I've been twice in the past week & we've had some great food. I think Chef Payton is still working on the staff and things will just improve and improve as time goes on. We are huge fans of his and had amazing meals when he was at Digestif.

      Highlights for us were the tajarin pasta with scallops (awesome), pate, radish salad, arugula salad, panzanella salad, roasted veal marrow bones and Payt-n-bake fried chicken.

      I'm super excited to see him in a bigger spot where he has the ability to do more as he did in the past. This will be one of our regular haunts for sure!

      Caffe Boa
      398 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281

      3 Replies
      1. re: ccl1111

        Interesting comment about "working on the staff." I've been a fan of Boa in all of its incarnations over its 15-years lifespan. The food has always been good, but the service has varied in quality -- sometimes knowledgeable and responsive, but sometimes spacey. As I've heard about Chef Payton's move to Boa in order to take the food to the next level, I've wondered if a similar effort would be invested in the service. It's not that the service has ever been rude or incompetent, but some of the staff I've dealt with in the past did not seem up to the task of explaining unfamiliar ingredients, which of course there are more of under the new menu.

        1. re: silverbear

          I'd originally assumed that Payton & Shantal were there as a package deal, but that's not the case. Shantal was hired separately to work on whatever front of house issues there might be. She is all over making sure things in the front are reflective of the food that comes out from the back. She's psyched about it!

          1. re: emmaAmethyst

            That's good news. Thanks for the update. I'm headed there next week.

      2. My wife and I were also there last night and dinner was excellent. Looks like the scallop dish was a huge hit cause we also ordered for our entree. I've had squid ink pasta 3 times in the last week in boston (daily catch) & (neptunes) their dish here is quite good! We also ordered 3 charcouterie lardo, country pate and bresaola to start off our meal. My only complaint was the pate being overly dried almost crumbly. Will definitely be back for their happy hour prices which seems like a steal for the quality of food.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Da Beebz

          Now if they would only do happy hour at their new Mesa location!


          1. re: jkgourmet

            from their facebook page today:

            Thinking about Happy Hour this week? Boa Bistro rocks the Far East Valley! Join us daily from 3-6pm for half-priced bar bites, wines, and deliciously inexpensive new world cocktail selections.

        2. I was at the Boa Bistro last night. Definitely great food, definitely a work in progress. Service was prompt and my food was excellent. I think the portion sizes are too large if they are really going for a three course format. Actually, 1sts, 2nds, and 3rds could each have been my entire meal. But I did do the trip though not leaving enough room for Dessert. I started with the salumi and cheese, then the linguine, and for the 3rd I had the grass fed steak which was excellent. All were excellent.

          The service still needs some refining which might be in process. There was no mention of the chalk board specials by the waiter though we ended up ordering from it after our order was already taken. I am also worried about the location, though convenient to me it is unlikely that East Mesa will support two restaurants with similar formats that are sharing a wall. Both restaurants will be hurting due to this

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