Let Them Eat Steak!: BOA’s Appetite Stimulus Menu Trims the Fat But Keeps the Flavor

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Steakhouse Santa Monica

Photo courtesy of Innovative Dining Group

One of the noticeable effects of our current economic meltdown, can be seen in the number of restaurants that are offering ‘special’ menus, discounted drinks, and other financial incentives in an effort to woo patrons. While there are still people dining out, it’s fair to say that a lot of people have made some serious cutbacks in their expenditure. Eating out is a luxury, and people are cutting it out, or dining less frequently. Others are ordering carefully from the menu or foregoing a course. I’ve noticed that in times past, when people would usually just agree to split the check in a group outing, there’s a new etiquette that says it’s now okay to quibble about the price difference in steamed versus fried rice. So BOA’s new Appetite Stimulus Menu might be a good way to go if you don’t want to whip out a calculator at the table. Let’s face it, penny pinching is never sexy.

Essentially a prix fixé menu with a snappy and au courant title, it’s a concise selection that offers a choice of two starters, a soup of the day, a choice of entrée, and a dessert. Wine isn’t part of the deal, but they do offer a red and a white at a fair price per bottle should you choose to imbibe. I picked the red, a Domaine De La Pertuisane ‘Le Nain Violet’ Grenache Noir, Catalan 2004, for $34. It’s an old vine Grenache with a bit of Carignan and Syrah. It had attractive fruit and an elegant structure. It retails in stores for more than $21 so the mark up is very reasonable by restaurant standards.

The menu changes every six to eight week to reflect seasonal items as much as possible. On the menu when I ate there, starters were charred tuna tartar with lemon zest, capers and shallots, and a classic Caesar salad. The tuna tartar was superb, silky smooth, and given a fresh zing with the lemon. I’ve often wondered, after eating a Caesar “Why is it a classic?” Do people enjoy eating a bit of watery Romaine that tastes as though it slept in a warm salad drawer with a cube of stale Parmigiano? BOA’s Caesar was easily one of the best I’ve had. Not shy of the anchovies, and a far cry from the insipid incarnations I’ve been let down by elsewhere. Really super.

Soup was French Onion, and was a rich, savory brown onion base with the requisite onion-y depth, and a lovely thick slab of molten Gruyère on top.

I had the Filet Mignon medallions, which came with horseradish mashed potatoes, asparagus and Bearnaise. There were two medallions of very good, tender, filet. I’m more of dry aged Rib Eye fan for the flavor, but this was a lovely bit of beef, and well served.

Dessert was a super rich chocolate mousse with a couple of very delicate cookies. When you consider that a Filet Mignon entree, can easily set you back about $30 BOA’s menu starts to look extremely attractive. Coupled with brisk, professional friendly service, it’s a good reason to go out to eat. Cooking a meal like this at home would probably cost more.

The Santa Monica location I visited is sleek and sexy, and definitely not your typical steakhouse in decor. It looks as though it’s designed to appeal to women as much as men, eschewing the usual ‘Gentleman’s Club’ décor of most steakhouses. While I was dining there, the place became noticeably busy. I wondered if everybody was ordering from the same menu as me, and strangely enough, they weren’t. I saw plenty of oysters and evidence of a la carte dining all around. The recent Dine LA week has definitely helped business, and patrons that enjoyed that seem to have found a way to continue coming to an establishment they may have discovered during that week. Brent Berkowitz, Director of Operations at Innovative Dining Group, who own BOA, estimated that only about 15 -20 % of customers are ordering from the ASM, as it’s known. But he says, “It has definitely helped our return customers. Knowing there is a more budget friendly option encourages repeat visits.” The Appetite Stimulus Menu is available at all of their restaurants, including Katana and Sushi Roku.

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