Friday, March 19, 2010

La Boheme: dining in a beautiful setting

My friend J has been talking about La Boheme, a French Japanese fusion restaurant in West Hollywood, right by his old stomping ground. It's gorgeous, he says. And that, La Boheme is. It was renovated a couple years ago and the decor is trendy, chic and sexy, all in one. It's also supposed to be one of the most romantic dining spots in LA with it's high ceilings, chandeliers, wall sconces, plush red couches and dim lighting.

The dining room was dark, opulent and goth looking.

The outdoor patio on the other hand, where we were seated, was bright and lively. There was a fireplace and the terrace was well lit. Happy hour is from 5-7.30pm which includes half off appetizers and $4 beers. Unfortunately for us, we were meeting after 7.30pm, so we were unable to partake.

We started with cocktails. Mango mojito and cantaloupe martini. I thought the mojito was alright, it probably needed a bit more sugar and lime because it tasted a little bland.

Bread with white bean puree. I really enjoyed this. The bread was like a foccacia, and the bean puree was thick and creamy. I also liked the use of the beans over butter. Sigh.. although it seems healthier than butter, I enjoyed it so much that I had to request for more bread.

Chicken liver pate with rosemary garlic crostini and onion confit. Delicious. The liver was surprisingly rather mild and went well with the sweet onion confit.

Trio of Wagyu beef sliders. I liked the juicy patty but I thought the bun was ordinary. They should have used brioche, or something more tasty than a regular starchy bun. The sliders were served with horseradish aioli.

Braised short rib pappardelle with rich red wine sauce. I've been on a meaty pasta kick so I've been on the lookout for dishes such as oxtail or boar pasta. Short ribs made the cut as well. I really enjoyed my pasta. The short rib was tender, cooked perfectly and wasn't gamy. The pasta was fresh and cooked al dente. This was so satisfying that I finished up every last morsel on the plate.

Miso glazed salmon with shiitake basmati rice, bok choy and spinach sauce. Fish was cooked perfectly, not dry and it went well with the crisp veggies and flavorful rice. I really do appreciate the Asian influences in most of the dishes as I think it makes a dish so much more interesting.

For dessert, we shared the chocolate chip bread pudding with creme anglais, caramelized bananas and cinnamon ice cream. You really can't go wrong when pairing chocolate with bread pudding. The cold spicy ice cream slowly melted over the warm and freshly baked bread pudding. It was delicious. The bananas had a nice coating of sugar that added additional sweetness to the dessert.

Of course when J and I get together, the night usually includes a lot of beer and games. We crossed the street to Barneys Beanery and spent the rest of the night playing air hockey (I suck at it), shuffleboard (I'm a little better at this), foosball and mini hoops (we kicked ass, eventually).

The night ended at 1.30am (ouch) after many many Boddingtons. Dinner at La Boheme was great. The food and portions were good and the prices were decent. The winner really is the decor and ambiance. You feel like you are in the Moulin Rouge. Happy Hour appears to be the way to go at 50% off appetizers and beer/wine specials. It was a fun night, well balanced with dining, beers and games.

Hits: ambiance, bread and bean puree, pasta, liver
Misses: cocktails were so-so
Rating: ***

La Boheme
8400 Santa Monica Blvd.,
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 848-2360

1 comment:

Diana said...

Gaaaaaah - that bread pudding! And, well, everything! I never realized La Boheme had Asian influences... interesting! Everything looks great - sounds perfect for a date! :)