Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Happy Hour at Cafe La Boheme - Ohh La La What A Deal!
I wanted to take my friend, M, out to a nice place in order to celebrate her birthday. From the second we arrived, I knew La Boheme would fit the bill perfectly. We were greeted out front by twinkling white lights wound through the wrought iron fence, inviting us to a world of whimsy. We stepped in to find soaring ceilings, funky chandeliers, large statues, and a huge fireplace. Both of us are east coasters, and the sight of a roaring fire warmed our little snow starved hearts! The whole place reminded me of nothing so much as Beast's castle in Beauty and the Beast. Luckily, the plates did not start singing:)
We walked in to the bar area. With it's dangling red lights and plush chairs it has the feel of an intimate and classy lounge. However, La Boheme is the only place I know that offers Happy Hour from 5-8pm, and when we arrived at 7:15 it was packed!! Hurrah for late Happy Hours - let's hope this is a trend! Not a problem at all though, the very friendly manager escorted us to a table in the main dining room.
We began to study the menu of small bites and sandwiches. The prices ranged from $6-$22 which struck us as reasonable for such a nice place. But no, it's actually an additional half off those prices!! Phenomenal!! We decided to go all out and order five dishes - at these prices, you can't go wrong!
We began with the $4 Grilled Lamb Skewers served with a Cucumber Mint Tzatziki Sauce. The lamb itself was slightly overdone, but it still had a very strong flavor, almost gamy. The sauce had a perfectly cool tang, although I can't say I detected much mint in there. Individually, neither element was stellar, but taken together the two complimented each other nicely.
The rest of our order came all at once after that. I was still busy taking notes on the lamb, but I positively could not resist the aroma of the $4 Four Cheese Mac and Cheese wafting toward me, it smelled like I had died and gone to cheese heaven. This is probably one of the least goopy Mac and Cheeses I have ever had. It feels more like they just tossed the noddles in a bunch of cheese and cooked it, which is perfectly fine by me! The four cheeses played well together, starting out with a creamy mildness and then gradually growing sharper the more you chewed. This was M's favorite dish of the night!
The $4 Veggie Spring Rolls definitely win the award for loveliest presentation (at least until we get to dessert). They were light and crispy, but not altogether different from what you'd get at your local Chinese restaurant. What did set them apart was the House Plum Sauce and the Chinese Mustard. The plum sauce was sweet and pungent, nicely setting off the savory spring rolls.
Next we had what as billed as Japanese Fried Chicken for $4. The all white meat was tender and moist, and the soy based dipping sauce had a hint of heat, but I could have dealt with a little more crunch on the breading.
Finally we come to my favorite of the night: $3 Bacon Wrapped Dates with a Blue Cheese and Pecan Stuffing. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that bacon wrapped dates are one of my favorite things in this world, and the addition of blue cheese and pecan stuffing is a stroke of genius. These little bites contain everything a mouth could wish for: salty, sweet, crunchy, smooth, pungent, and mild. Amazing!! While these were not the juiciest dates I have ever had, they were still out of this world DE-LICI-OUS!!!
We ended our meal with the Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Caramelized Bananas and Cinnamon Ice Cream. Normally this dish goes for $8, but we were charged the Happy Hour Price of $4. (In all honesty, I'm not sure if that was a mistake since it didn't say desserts were included in the half off special, but it was certainly a happy accident!). Regardless, this dish is certainly worth full price! The bread pudding was warm, soft, and so comforting it might as well be giving you a hug. The chocolate chips tasted like they had a high concentration of cocoa, almost like the bars you can get that are 60-70% chocolate. But, the cinnamon ice cream and accompanying sauces were sweet enough that it all balanced out. And I must mention the Caramelized Bananas - what an ingenious combination of creamy raw bananas with their crisply caramelized tops. Fantastic!
Overall, we very much enjoyed our experience at La Boheme - it is certainly a FANTASTIC deal - probably the best I've found yet! The two of us ate our fill of tasty food for under $25, and had plenty of leftovers to bring home! This gets four belt notches out of five, for overall value.
Cafe La Boheme has Happy Hour from 5-8pm Daily!
8400 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069