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Oct 25, 2012 08:48 PM

Tried BOMA tonight

We tried the newest addition to the South End restaurant scene, BOMA, a new gastropub in the former Pho Republique/Bombay Club space. I think it was the third night of its being open tonight. All around, pretty good, solid food.

We ordered two apps, a roasted clam dish with toasted bread and sausage and a slow cooked shortrib taco. Both were good, but my pick would be the shortrib taco to have again.

From the small plates menu, we ordered the burger with duck fat french fries and a small portion of the bucatini. The burger was pretty great. We ordered medium, but we got rare to medium rare, which I had no problem with but my wife claimed afterward it was "bloody". We often disagree on the doneness of things, though. The bucatini is pretty standard noodles, tomato sauce, shaved parmesan on top. I think there was a cured meat involved as well, but can't remember which.

Lastly, we had the monkfish entree with white beans and spinach. The monkfish had nicely crisped skin and firm flesh. Our party had only one drink, a martini, and all the food described came out to $88 or so.

The space of the restaurant was nicely opened up from previous incarnations, which had seemed partitioned off. The service was uniformly on point. The only sign I saw of the restaurant being in the first days of operation was that they didn't yet have high chairs for my little daughter (we brought a booster from home). They should have some soon. We ate very early on a Thursday, so it wasn't busy when we started. It was a little busier when we left.

All in all, everything was at least good. Nothing earth shattering, but I'd recommended the burger, monkfish and the tacos. Prices seem good for the South End, service was good so far.

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  1. Nice to have such a thorough early report! Boma has looked pretty full the last few nights. Would love to see this place as a solid contributor to a South End restaurant revival: Cinquecento, Boston Chops, Five Horses II, and Estelle's are all on the way. The old Noche space is another possibility.

    Would it help the missus to know that the red juice isn't really blood, just mostly water tinged with myoglobin, the protein that makes red meat red? Might quash the ick factor a bit.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Wait, Noche went under already? Hahaha... well, that's sad, but not surprised. Very odd concept for the location.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Somehow, that actually sounds worse to me than "blood." But better than pink slime.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Probably not, MC. I mean, she ate the burger and liked it, so she's not the type to demand well done burgers. But I can't count the number of times she's claimed to see some trace of pink in chicken or pork that I don't see, so her sensitivity to doneness is just way higher than mine.

        2. Ha! Fukui San, I too ate there last night, and was just about to make a post. I think I may have even seen you: did you go right at 5:25, with your wife and a stroller? If so, I was the nondescript white guy in a jacket and tie waiting around outside the door.

          I don't have a ton to add to this, I think your descriptions were very on-point. We also had the tacos (tasty; my friend wished they had a little sauce) and the local burger, which I agree was really very good. I specifically ordered rare-to-medium-rare and I thought they nailed that. The texture and flavor were clean and lovely. The fries weren't quite as great as I was hoping (I mean, duck fat, come on) but they were plenty good. It came with a sort of homemade ketchup/salsa hybrid that was okay. It wasn't ketchupy enough for me to want to put it on my burger (and really, a good burger doesn't want or need ketchup), and it wasn't viscous enough to stick to the fries.

          We did order desserts: I got a chocolate ganache torta with pecan crust and warm caramel, while my friend got their "Purple Cow," which is ice cream served with some sort of pour-over pop rocks concoction. I thought my dessert was great. I was scraping the caramel off the plate.

          I also got a cocktail ($10) of fernet and chartreuse, which was tasty and strong enough.

          Like you said: good dinner, good space, good atmosphere. The owner greeted us and was very courteous. A main takeaway, though, is that I'm not sure what (if anything) will really distinguish the place from the myriad alternatives in the South End, The Gallows included. I know that The Gallows and BoMa are different places, but it's easier for me to comprehend that difference because of what The Gallows is rather than because of what BoMa is. BoMa is a good meal, but you can trip and fall in the SE and hit a good meal. I'm sure they'll refine their menu and purpose as they move forward, but I'm just not ready to give a strong recommendation on it, mostly because I'm not sure how I'd sell its strengths. I don't know what they are yet. Hope for more reports to come in to help clarify that.

          1 Reply
          1. re: FinnFPM

            That was indeed us! I agree with your take. It's good but not distinguished yet. The menu at this point is pretty limited. What was it? 5 apps, 3 small plates, 5 entrees? There wasn't a lot to choose from, but maybe they'll expand it in a bit. But I wonder what they think their "signature" dish is.

          2. Had an incredibly disappointing dinner there last night. It was just pretty pedestrian, with swamped but rookie service, and with so many other solid options in the South End, we won't be heading back.

            The space was cool, but the layout didn't make any sense- servers had to wade through the bar crowd (and it was hopping!) to get to the tables upfront by the windows. This meant 20 minutes before we got water, another 15 before drink orders were taken, another 5 to get us the correct drink we had actually ordered... Not entirely the waiter's fault, but it felt like we were in the land of the lost up there. The waiter was nice, but clearly new to the game- he took our orders while holding some other table's empty butter dish and plate full of crumbs, stacked all of our plates atop one another when clearing, etc.

            Menu seems to have expanded since some of the previous posters went. We had the kale, orange, and fennel salad (though fennel was conspicuously absent. When we commented to the waiter, he said he wouldn't recognize fennel anyway if it hit him in the face. Um, yep.) which was fine though unexciting, roasted clams with chorizo (pretty good, and above and beyond the best dish of the night), and a lame cheeseburger. After the raves here we had been expecting greatness from the burger, but although we ordered medium-rare, it was pretty medium. The homemade ketchup was fine though didn't do much for us, and the duck fat fries paled in comparison to the fries at Duck Fat up in Portland- couldn't even taste the deliciousness we're used to up there.

            Total for all + a glass of wine and the aforementioned drink was $56 + tip.

            It was totally mobbed on a Friday night- tables were largely full, and the bar was 3 deep by the time we left.

            In all, it was disappointing given that there's such a strong gastropub right down the street in Gallows. If they're going to be right down the block, you'd think BoMa would have brought their A-game. Instead, everything was just very flat and unexciting. I could see going back to sit at the bar, have a glass of wine and the roasted clams, but why bother when Gallows is leaps and bounds better?

            4 Replies
            1. re: iamsam

              That's a ridiculous anecdote about the fennel. Wow.

              1. re: FinnFPM

                I'm a fine-dining Server looking for a job & these schmucks who don't know their food or how to properly clear tables find work! Geesh...cross BoMa off my list as a place to dine... & work!

                1. re: adrienne69

                  To be fair, he was VERY nice and clearly swamped... but not terribly experienced. I felt badly for the poor guy- but won't be heading back.

                  1. re: iamsam

                    I'd rather have a waiter tell me that I'm stupid and ugly than tell me that, beyond the name of the dish, he's got literally no idea what is being served.

            2. We stopped in for dinner last night. TL; DR: nice space, poorly timed dishes, keen service, perfectly mediocre food.

              Bread has a good crust (Iggy's?) and butter is whipped and incredible salty. I like salty, so this suited me just fine.

              Roasted clams and chorizo are under seasoned, which is a shame because the chorizo should be adding some smokiness, but it's really just sitting there. Additionally, the plate is absolutely boiling. Nice to see they cook to order.

              Then we wait. For 25 minutes. When our larger plates arrive, the pasta is a cold and the beef is hot. Ok, so there are some timing issues.

              Chestnut ravioli with duck confit, rapini and pistachio cream - creamy, not too sweet on the chestnut, and the duck is incredibly crispy. I'm not sure I want to eat them all together, but the dish fares better than the clams did.

              Hanger steak with texas hash (is that what we're calling the sort-of fried carrots?), kale, and chili garlic butter - the winner of the night. Perfectly cooked, salty, spicy, crunchy, oh and there are potatoes! Maybe those are part of the hash.

              We didn't leave anything on the plates, so it couldn't have been that bad, though I don't think I'll be back what with all the other delicious things to eat on Washington Street.