Stuck in the Middle 

Bo Restobar Splits the Difference

Based on a premise that "originated in Thailand," the press release for Bo Restobar (the new dining establishment attached to Hotel Lucia) reads: "Bo Restobar features food that you wouldn't expect from a bar and a drink menu and alcohol selection you'd rarely see in a restaurant."

It's not a restaurant. It's not a bar. It's a restobar!

This rather unnecessary conceptual scheme is manifested in Bo Restobar's physical design, an odd amalgamation of hip Asian minimalism and retro-homey cush that feels like the inside of a wood-paneled aquarium, complete with a burbling waterfall sculpture and blue and green bar lights reminiscent of neon tetras.

As the silly moniker suggests, Bo Restobar's décor is too unintentionally funky to be a straight-up dinner spot, but not funky enough to be a cool watering hole. The alcohol selection, for one, is a strange mixture of high-end and no-end, with only two somewhat baffling beers on tap: Bass and Guinness. I'm supposed to supplement my tuna tartar or Peking duck spring roll with one of the two most mediocre British beers around?

On second thought, I don't think Bo Restobar really expects its patrons to drink beer at all. A better way to summarize its iffy concept is small-plate fine dining (or "pan-Asian tapas"), and what it's really hoping is that you'll sip on some smooth cognac with your cute little meal, or order one of the ultra-sweet specialty cocktails. I got a Bushmills neat with my pork loin, and it went down just fine. Co-owner Bo Kline (they should have just called it Bo's Joint), who also owns the very successful, Lucia-affiliated Typhoon! chain of Thai restaurants, created Bo Restobar's menu. She can cook like the dickens, and the pork's exquisitely tangy flavor was rivaled only by its presentation: a lovely row of crispy slices heated on the inside to rich, tender perfection.

Kline is, not surprisingly, all about the fusions (like fusing a restaurant and a bar, for instance. Restobar!). The aforementioned tartar arrived in a beautiful arrangement involving a martini glass and a topping of sliced pear and seaweed flakes. The raw tuna was fresh and succulent, mixed harmoniously with a spicy cream glaze, and tobiko (fish eggs.) I can't fathom how many Asian cuisines were represented in this dish, but their union was harmonious. And though we didn't plan to, we perfectly offset the tartar by ordering the uniquely appealing lemongrass clam chowder, a wonderfully flavorful rendition as satisfying as any of its kind.

Having tasted it, I expect to crave Bo Kline's artful cuisine again, but I'm not sure exactly when I'll get back there. Being somewhere in between a bar and a restaurant may sound good on paper (I guess), but in practice, it doesn't add up to much of a destination spot. Still, whatever you make of the place, you can't deny the food. Perhaps you could drop by on some drunken outing for a late-night snack. The portions are just the right size for such an excursion, and if you're really drunk you'll enjoy wrapping your lips around that sweet, sweet word even more. Restobar!


Comments are closed.

From the Archives

More by Justin W. Sanders

Staff Pick Events

Most Commented On

Top Viewed Stories

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC

115 SW Ash St. Suite 600
Portland, OR 97204

Contact Info | Privacy Policy | Production Guidelines | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy