I’d been to Boa for cocktails a few times. The cocktails were always lovely I’m particularly fond of a pink thing involving vodka, strawberries and pepper. It’s been a landmark for great meetings and creative decisions. A buzzy place. I’ve enjoyed quite a few happy hours there with delicious snacks. My friend had decreed it her favourite restaurant ever. I think this was after an incident at Soho House she hadn’t enjoyed. Soho House is just above it and now she only wants to go to Boa.
It was her birthday so that’s where we booked. Curiously when I booked, the receptionist asked is this for a birthday? Wow she must be psychic. Yes! And I was moderately excited. When we arrived we saw that many many tables were adorned with an indoor firework and a baked Alaska. So many people’s birthdays. My friend excitedly announced how can I have so many astral twins? There are two reasons for this. Boa is an event restaurant – by that I mean expensive so maybe you only go there for birthdays or maybe you realise how expensive it was and thought you could at least get a yummy free dessert. No matter. The place was alight with sparkle, glitter and fire – a great atmosphere.
I looked at the menu – eek, almost nothing vegetarian but lots of fish – not quite the same. Don’t you just love it the way some restaurants think that fish is vegetarian? Even the mash had lobster in it. My friend ordered a steak. I’m not an expert on steaks but I know the word petite was in it. When it arrived it looked the size of a dolls house for medium sized dolls. i.e. not quite as big as Barbie but still they could live there quite happily lounging around for a week and have no need to leave because they had claustrophobia.
She seemed to be eating it for quite a while yet it was still the size of a Hovis loaf when it got boxed up. She loved it though. I loved the grilled jumbo asparagus. This is possibly the best $13 you can spend there. Giant crispy, juicy asparagus, just the right buttery, just the right texture. They were absolutely perfect.
As well as lobster mashed potato you can get truffle mashed potato to have with black truffle gnocchi, truffled cheese fries, sour cream and chive potatoes, lovely fluffy mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries and ember roasted yams and tamarind. I could go there just for the potato menu. We sent this lot down with their signature 405 cocktail and as I said these cocktails are fantastic. It was her birthday. We had four each.
And here’s the only downside of this beautiful evening. I gave my credit card and the waiter came over amazed. It needs a pin number. It’s true – the US were slower than the UK and Europe to operate the chip and pin system, just like they had flip phones for an extra decade. On these two areas and these two areas alone I have to say it – the US are a little backward, but I such a fancy cosmopolitan restaurant I was surprised. Anyhow they don’t have mobile credit machines takers that come to the table. I remember four New Years’ Eves ago Adil Ray OBE, the creator of Mr Khan and indeed the actor who portrays Mr Khan had a full on Mr Khan moment. No one would bring the credit card machine to the table. It’s because they don’t have a credit card machine that’s mobile. Despite the epic drama that unfolded – it could well have been a full episode – about the inconvenience of such a ridiculousness. The Americans have not learnt their lesson and as the waiter asked me to come to his till I felt a Mr Khan moment. It was bubbling inside me. “er er er er er er. I was even making the Mr Khan noise. Sorry Adil, there IS a Mr Khan noise. It’s a special breathing and harrumphing mixture. To stop myself from turning Muslim on the spot I gave him my pin number so he could charge the $290. Yes $290. No wonder everyone says it’s their birthday. In old exchange rate this would be bad but acceptable and expected. In new exchange rate this was the most expensive birthday dinner in the history of birthdays but my friend was smiling and taking photographs of all her other astrals and she was saying how much she loved it and loved me, so I thought only of the giant asparagus and how they were undoubtedly the best on the planet and I thought about the beautiful cocktails and the beautiful baked Alaska – I mean Baked Alaska, big creamy ice cream with a fluffy burnt in all the right places meringue and a firework. That’s got to be worth something.
Off we went to get our Uber and here’s the moment where I don’t know what Mr Khan would have done but I knew I couldn’t be responsible for channeling him again. The waiter said you didn’t leave a tip. You need to leave at least $52. There was a gulp. There was a ‘no Mr Khan – don’t invade me now’ moment. I said well you have my pin number. You may as well pay yourself but I am sorry I thought the tip was included but to have you run out after us in the street and make us feel like we were a hit and run is not cool. You’ll have to pay yourself the tip that you feel you deserve. The Uber arrived. I called the restaurant to complain but the manager was busy and was supposed to call me back. They never did. I’m about to call my credit card company and see the tip he gave himself. For all I know he could be in Sydney by now. I’m sure they’ll keep me posted.
By Chrissy Iley