If you’re like me, you’ve probably driven past La Boheme – maybe on your way to Delilah or Laurel Hardware – and thought I’ve got to check out that charming patio seating. Well, I finally made it to the twinkling site on Santa Monica Boulevard, and every aspect of my experience met my expectations. Just east of La Cienega, this restaurant, roofed by row after row of white Christmas lights, boasts a menu of craft cocktails and Mediterranean food with a handful of seafood dishes that are officially making my best-of-LA list.
On Friday night, after sitting second row at a few LA Fashion Week shows which left me awestruck and in need of liquor, I joined Loop’s Fashion Writer, Keara Norton, at this unique dinery. We flashed our vax cards, which is now becoming routine in West Hollywood, and were immediately intrigued by the 6+ foot tall lamps that looked like art deco table toppers and adorned the outdoor seating. In addition, tall leaning mirrors with ivory frames as well as full-sized renaissance paintings rested against various structures adjacent to white tables set with red chairs. The décor, which clearly spared no expense, grabbed my instant affection (you should know by now, I love an ambiance), and I was brimming with enthusiasm as I glanced over the cocktail menu. There were two different mezcal concoctions, and I opted for the Naked and Famous – fantastic fucking name – because I am sucker for a chartreuse mixture with my favorite smokey base. Served up with a glowing blood orange hue, this cocktail was the perfect entrance to the evening’s meal: bitter but sweet with a pinch of sour and the undertone of smoke.
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Keara began to bubble with excitement when she noticed Oysters on the menu and put our first order of six in along side the drinks. Now, here’s my stance on Oysters: Do I love the taste of vinegar, horse radish, and white wine mignonette? Absofuckinglutely. But, I eat every oyster like it’s a shot of tequila: no chewing, no gagging, nothing but a straight swallow. So, while I do say I enjoy the taste, I never claim to eat oysters. And I neglect from ordering them on my own since it seems like a waste of a fancy dish. However, when they are ordered at a table, I always make it a practice to give them a try. And try I did at La Boheme, and I’m still praising my adventurous taste buds for this one. These were, hands down, the best oysters I have ever had in my life, and I’ll go ahead and put a stake in the ground right now and say that these are the best in LA. Bursting with the white wine vinegar taste I adore, these very small species were topped with a grapefruit slice which made chewing mandatory. And as I dug in, I was electrocuted by the sharp flavors of the sauce, the bite from the fruit, the salt of the seafood. It was a perfect combination, and before I even knew it, I was moving on to my second and third. (Seriously, call all my friends, they’ll be shocked).
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Though it was Dine LA and the custom courses offered us an array of dazzling options, we wanted to cruise through our selections from the regular menu and began with a plate of three crostini’s, which we asked them to cut in half for sharing purposes. The menu offers a varied selection of flavors, and you can opt for three or five. The crowd favorite was easily the Spicy Cod Caviar Spread. Caviar is something I’ve come to love recently (following a phenomenal experience at Bowery Meat Company in New York), and this served up all the anticipated flavors: dill, capers, and the spice of onion. Someone remind me to order a solid five of these when I return. For my entrée, I went with the Sole Meunier in a brown butter sauce. While I typically like this fish light and airy, standing on its own with a bit of lemon, the lightly fried and heavily sauced take was giving fine dining comfort food, and I enjoyed each flaky forkful. We did order a second half dozen oysters (I hope you saw that coming) and finished off the meal with an Espresso Martini, which is quickly becoming my favorite dessert (stay tuned, I’m anticipated an LA Martini Tour in my future).
As we sipped the sweet vodka coffee combo, we talked eagerly about returning. The inside of the restaurant had red walls, red booths, and chandeliers galore. It was easy to imagine birthday dinners or girls get-togethers where we could adequately costume ourselves to match the interior. In short, La Boheme quickly became more than that lighted locale on the corner, and my plans to dine here again I’m sure will be swiftly executed.