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Restaurants & Bars 5

Boneyard Bistro - mixed

Debbie W. | Dec 21, 200505:38 PM

The verdict on Boneyard Bistro among the four hounds in our party last night is decidedly mixed. We arrived on time for our 7:30 reservation and were seated within a few minutes, although we had a short, hot wait on the patio where there were overhead heat lamps blasting notwithstanding the weather being unseasonably mild.

We were given the strangely shaped booth at the rear which is U-shaped but with uneven sides, so that one person sits at the bottom of the U, another on one of the sides, two on the other side. It was not the most comfortable arrangement, and this problem was compounded by the fact that the restaurant was incredibly noisy. It was noisier than Luna Park. It was about as noisy as Jones Hollywood where two of our party had dined last week. We like a fun and lively atmosphere but we don’t like to raise our voices to talk to our dinner companions. Service was really friendly and efficient throughout the evening.

Appetizers ordered were the pulled pork dumplings, the smoked duck spring rolls, and the calamari. The calamari was nicely crunchy although the green papaya salad that topped it was lackluster and flavorless. The dumpling skins on the pulled pork dumplings were also fairly flavorless as well as unpleasantly chewy, but the pulled pork filling was nice and smoky. The coleslaw that accompanied the dumplings was pretty good. Best of the appetizers were the duck spring rolls, with an intense cherry compote and a spicy red cabbage slaw.

Two of us, including me, ordered the venison special that Carter raved about a couple of days ago. This was a beautiful, rich dish with truffled mashed potatoes forming the bottom layer, topped by a thin venison filet, perfectly cooked if a bit too cool, then a very generous slice of seared foie gras, then another layer of venison, topped by something sweet in a bit of pastry. Sorry to be so vague on the last component of the tower but I didn’t really eat it but for a small taste, choosing to concentrate on the venison and foie gras which were so generous that I couldn’t finish them. Surrounding all this richness were little pellets of carrots and, I’m guessing, turnips. We had some discussion about how they got the carrots into this shape but we neglected to ask anyone so we’re still guessing. There were also a few pieces of artfully arranged broccoli rabe, and two abstractly dribbled sauces.

One person had a BBQ combo plate of St. Louis ribs and baby back ribs. Ribs were pronounced dry and not very good. His sides were fried mac and cheese and collards. I nabbed a taste of collards and thought they were way too sweet.

And, finally, the fourth person ordered a BBQ combo plate of tri-tip and sausage. He didn’t love it either. His sides were fried mac and cheese, and beans. The beans were pretty good. I had a bite of his fried mac and cheese, and it was good but not as good as what we had a few months ago at Fix in Vegas. Of course that has a truffled cheese dipping sauce, and this doesn’t, so maybe it’s not fair to compare the two. The coating on the mac and cheese was very thick, and I think just a couple bites of this would be enough.

Wine was a Rancho Zabaco zinfandel, I forget the vintage, but it was really good with our food and seemed reasonably priced. No desserts were ordered.

The noise factor was really a deterrent to having a pleasant evening, and the restaurant was not quite full. Brick walls cannot help matters, nor can the tiny space.

Pricing was odd also – the venison was $39 which given the luxe ingredients maybe isn’t out of line when looking just at the plate, but that’s pretty high at a place like Boneyard Bistro. It wouldn’t be out of line at, let’s say, Lucques or Jiraffe. When other plates are around $20, that’s a pretty big differential. I guess I expect that when a special is far more expensive than regular menu items, that the server would mention the price. Otherwise I expect specials to be more expensive, but not double. We didn’t ask the price before ordering, and certainly we could have, so that’s our fault but we would have ordered the venison anyway. We’re not sorry we got it, but there’s a kind of dissonance in the menu. Although I haven’t read all the reviews here, I’m getting the feeling that the bistro side of things is more successful food-wise than the BBQ side. That’s too bad because we need some decent BBQ here in the SFV. Total including tax and tip for four was $225. Not sure if we’ll be back.

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