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December 2009
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Caffe Boa: Slow food great, slower service not!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of organic food and local farming used in restaurants;I don’t mind the extra time it takes for an extraordinary meal.  Using Breadsmith bakery for their bread and Queen Creek Olive Mill for their oil, as well as Seacat, McClendon, and other local farms; they really do have a great thing going on.  However, on my visit on December 15th, 2009, the lack of service is what really brought me down.  Allow me to explain. 

I get there at 5:30 and my dining partner was running a little behind, so I went to the bar for a drink.  The bartender was very nice, attentive, and gave me a wine list and explained happy hour to me.  I ordered a sauvignon blanc ($4.25 HH price) and sat down and waited.  I asked if we could cash in on the happy hour specials in the dining room but was told it is only in the bar.  So, when a bar high top opened up I grabbed it for Kristi and I, knowing we would in the very least have a few more drinks and do our appetizers during happy hour.  This is where it starts to get hairy…

So, my friend arrives and gets her first glass of wine from the bar and sits down with me at the high top.  Their high tops are long, so you’ll most likely be sitting next to other people dining down the table from you,  as we were.  I saw servers and bus boys, and even the FOH manager many times.  However, for 15 minutes not one person  acknowledged us, said hello, or brought us menus.  So I got up, walked towards the entrance, and told a bus boy that we needed a server and menus please and informed him where we were seated in the bar.  Okay, this is good, right??? Nope, still about ten more minutes went by with not a single soul to help us.  Next, we asked the bartender if he could help us out…still no server.  I finally had to get up, go talk to the manager and explain to him that it has been over 30 minutes with no acknowledgement and that we were about to leave.  Wow, this has NEVER happened to me, especially in a fine dining atmosphere.

So, finally a server comes out and brings us menus, bread, and apologizes; takes our drink order as we were seriously in need of more wine at this point.  Kristi and I were both forgiving of the snafu and figured, now we have a server and this dinner should go great. 

mozzarella with peppers and balsamic reduction

mozzarella with peppers and balsamic reduction

Autumn Maccaroncello

Autumn Maccaroncello

For appetizers we got chef Payton Curry’s hand pulled mozzarella ($14.0, not on HH menu) that is said to be made fresh daily.  I have to say it was delicious indeed!  We also got the Autumn Maccaroncello ($7.0, HH price) which was a homemade penne pasta tossed with butternut squash, honey, toasted pepitas, pecorino cheese and pumpkin oil.  It was good, but very very sweet.  I figured that the pecorino and pumpkin oil would give the pasta a nice contrast to the sweet honey and squash, but I didn’t get that at all when I ate it.  The pasta, however was cooked perfectly.

At this point, the server saw our notebooks and cameras and figured out that we were doing a review, so we now figured we would not have any more troubles for the rest of our meal.  Entrees were difficult to choose as they all looked amazing on paper.  We choose the Maine Diver scallops($26.0) and the short ribs tortelloni ($18.0)

short rib tortelloni

short rib tortelloni

Maine scallops

Maine scallops

The scallops were served with a delicious potato puree, braised leeks, puffed capers with a brown butter.  For the ($26.) entree we only got two scallops.  They were large, but still I feel two is a little pretentious when the service is not superb.  They were excellent scallops..not a huge fan of the puffed capers though. To me, they just tasted like burnt capers and had no salty flavor left which is signature to a caper.  The short rib tortelloni ($18.) was very good as well.  It had a delicious cheese fondue sauce and the pulled short ribs inside were very tender with a  pure beef flavor.  You get six tortellonis in this dish which I think is fair for the price.

At this point in the meal I noticed our server got a large table and the fear set in!  We did order dessert.  Originally we ordered their triple berry cobbler which was on special.  Later we were notified that the last two cobblers just went out.  We opted for the bread pudding ($9.0) with vanilla ice cream.  The pudding came, it was very dry and needed either more butter rum sauce or more ice cream to moisten it.  We only had two bites as we weren’t too impressed.  So, we were finished and it was now 8pm, two and a half hours later.  We chatted, finished our wine, had our plates pushed aside as a cue to the server that we were finished. Check was dropped off.  Fifteen minutes went by…no server.  Not AGAIN!!  After thirty minutes I was done!  Done waiting, done with poor service, just done.  I could understand completely if he had come up to us and explained that he just got a ten top, but he didn’t. So, I got up again, this being the third or fourth time I had to get up during my meal for help.  I ended up going outside actually to the hostess with our bill and our forms of payment and explained our server had been MIA for around thirty minutes.  We finally got our credit card slips and an apology from the server.  Then we parted ways not too sure what to even think.

I guess the moral of the story is that some restaurants can be quite delicious and worth every penny with great service.  Or, like us, you can go have a great dinner food wise,  with poor service and then not feel so good about paying over $100. for it.  I may be back to Boa, or I may not.  It won’t be anytime soon, I assure you.  I’d like to go back in a few months and see their service improved and then I can  re-write this review and feel good about it.  We shall see!!

Caffe Boa

398 S Mill St

Tempe, AZ 85281

Caffe Boa on Urbanspoon

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2 Responses to “Caffe Boa: Slow food great, slower service not!”

  • Ashley P. says:

    I am not a fan of this Tempe location, I live in Tempe but tend to eat at their Ahwatukee spot, it has all of the original Menu including the Tortellini brigantino, boa bowtie, calamari friti and their excellent buttercake dessert, its really a must try.. ahwatukee has very little to offer its residents and should be thanking boa for being over there.. kudos to the owner and staff in their ahwatukee location for doing such a great job. It appears also the Tempe location spends all of their time trying to promote themselves instead of taking care of their actual customers that come in the door, its a rip off.

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