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Bad service ruins good eats (and drinks)

April 29, 2010

If you live in the Seattle are, you may have heard about an event that happened tonight called “Dining Out for Life”. Participating restaurants agreed to donate a percentage of every customer’s bill to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance. My friend Ali invited me to join her out for dinner to support the cause. I happily accepted and we invited our parents along– for their delightful company and for their credit cards 😉 Just kidding, Mom!

From the list of restaurants, the menu at Boka looked enticing so we made a reservation.

It wasn’t until my mom and I were approaching the door that I remembered we’d eaten here before. It was a rainy afternoon early this year and we popped in for lunch. I vaguely remember eating a good salad and some soup. I was eager to try the place again for dinner.

Unfortunately, Boka failed to impress me the second time around.

The evening started off well. The restaurant is modern and fun, yet elegant with a long bar, some fun color-changing lighting and sculptural glass bamboo. We were seated in a raised corner table and were promptly served the cocktails we ordered. Ali had a scrumptious coconut mojito, which she drank down with a classy “spring break!” cheer. Mine was a twist on a mojito name “Crush”, with apricot puree and lavender soda. This place definitely knows how to make delicious drinks.

Cocktails

However, it was made very clear throughout the meal that although they might skimp in other areas (a lot), the servers would never fail to serve us more drinks. They’ve obviously decided this is where they can rake in the dough…which I wouldn’t mind at all if they remembered to serve us the water we asked for three times. Or brought our food in a somewhat timely manner.

To be fair, our first courses were served quickly enough. My mom and I both enjoyed the Boka Salad of butter lettuce topped with sheep’s milk feta, currants and pine nuts. Ali’s mom Jude had the special Fava Bean Salad that she happily devoured before she could share. Ali’s mushroom soup was served with a little slice of grilled cheese for a homey touch. A good start…followed by a loooong wait for our entrees, which were brought to us by another server since ours was M.I.A. This also meant she couldn’t account for or apologize for my order not making it to the table. Instead of the seasonal cheese and fruit flatbread I’d ordered, I was given a side order of plain flatbread. The new waiter was very apologetic and comped us on our bill, but it’s always frustrating to wait for food while the rest of your party is munching on theirs. Everyone seemed to like their entrees, though, and once mine arrived I was intriqued by the unique combination of blue cheese, arugula, strawberries and rhubarb atop my flatbread. I also tried a bite (or two) of my mom’s crab cakes and they were stuffed full of tender crab with a perfect, crispy crust.

Seasonal Flatbread

The food was not the problem at Boka tonight, and I’m disappointed that such poor service has really discouraged me to come back. The clincher was when the two desserts ordered by Ali’s parents with their Prix Fixe Meals were delivered to the table without asking if the rest of us wanted to order to dessert as well. My mom, who is the quintessential conflict-avoider, was so perturbed as to make a comment to our waitress. I’m relieved part of our bill will be going to helps AIDS patients.

All in all, I’d say Boka would be a fine place to catch up at the bar over some exciting cocktails and small bites, but I wouldn’t bother trying to have a real sit-down meal here.

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