We've been eating at Bleu Boheme since the night they opened. We've brought friends for special occasions, and we've eaten light dinners at the bar many times. Over time, we went less often, because prices climbed, and quality fell. Recently, they blew it completely. They had advertised a special menu for Julia Child's birthday, sounded great. $60 prix-fixe, and we also ordered fairly expensive alcohol. Here's how it went:
Fish soup with red pepper rouille -- tasty, nice. Best dish of the evening.
Moules a la Bernaise -- three mussels sitting in an odd, gelatin-y cream. The chef must have learned a different Bernaise than I did, but regardless, Bernaise does not set like gelatin. Odd but not terrible.
Pissadeliere Nicoise -- a few white anchovies over lightly carmelized onions, sitting on a sheet of pre-made, frozen puff pastry. Zero flavor. Well, that's not entirely true -- there was a tiny dollop of tapenade on top, which was nice. The rest of the dish, the dominant element was fat in the onions and in the puff pastry. Poor.
Lobster Thermidor -- goodness, I had no idea it was even legal to harvest lobster that small. Or that they could be overcooked until they were that rubbery. Overcooked, with a bland drizzle of vague brown mushroom something. Lobster Thermidor is a very dated dish -- you hardly ever see it anymore, but it can be lovely, delicate, rich. This one was blah, and very overcooked, and we sent it back. Terrible.
Fallen chocolate souffle -- more cake-like than I would expect a fallen souffle to be, and frankly, I don't think it ever actually was a souffle, but it was tasty and nicely presented.
Service -- our watiress was waiting on far too many tables -- I think she had the entire room -- and she vanished into the kitchen for very long periods of time. But she was pleasant. The bus boys brought out courses while we were still eating the previous courses, and stood waiting, with the dishes in their hands, for us to finish, Then there was an unexplained 40-minute wait for the main course, which felt very odd after the frantic speed of the previous courses.
No adjustment was made to the bill, despite our sending back the main course. I asked to speak to the manager, and the chef came out. When I told him our concerns, he argued, told us we were wrong, then took a token deduction off the bill. I responded by paying what I thought was an appropriate amount (too much, in retrospect), in cash, and by handing a generous tip directly to the waitress, in cash.
So, a disappointing evening, when we had been looking forward to a very special evening. Poor food, poor service, and an argumentative attitude from the chef/owner, who had lost control over his kitchen, and who was unable to handle the dinner rush.
Bummer. Here's the ultimate insult: I am not a fan of Cohn Restaurants (although I am grateful for the Cohn's civic contributions). Two years ago, at the old Thee Bungalow, they put on a Julia dinner, and my wife persuaded me to go. Their food was much better than that offered last night by Chef Ken Irvine.