Today my DH took me to Valentine's lunch at the Bo House Cafe in Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Residence Complex. I was kind of excited, the Bo in Bo House is supposed to stand for 'Bohemian' and I was thinking something like our own hometown, ultra-cool (but more importantly delicious), Vanilla Bean. While the Vanilla Bean is, in fact a bohemian kinda place, Bo House is just another corporate 'concept' restaurant.
Its not a bad concept. The interior of the restaurant is all undulating white walls and nook-like vistas of the sea beyond. It has a VERY notable poured epoxy floor covered in swirling multicolored decals and crazy flowered sofas for seating. Outside, where we were happy to eat, is miles less distracting with simple, ubiquitous, imitation-rattan furniture covered in cozy pastel pillows and large umbrellas overhead. The view from the patio is of the JBR public parking lot, but it didn't really detract as seating is high enough up that you get a good sea view as well.
We started with salads. For him Halloumi cheese over spring mix with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts in a balsamic vinaigrette. The salad was tasty but perhaps at 55dhs could have used a more generous hand with the cheese, three wafer-thin slices of the grilled Halloumi didn't really allow for it to be enjoyed throughout the dish.
I had a Mixed Vegetable 'healthy choice' salad which was quite nice. It included steamed cauliflower, artichoke hearts, yellow and green zucchini on a bed of chiffonade lettuce and white cabbage in a basil vinaigrette.
We shared a pot of yellow curry with chicken. The curry was tasty enough but a little bland. It actually reminded me of a super-creamy version of the Japanese boxed curries my college roomie's mom used to send her from Tokyo. Bizarrely, and annoyingly, someone has decided to serve a good two cups of curry with less than a full cup of slightly greasy 'saffron' rice. Ditch the seasoned rice and just give a reasonable portion of plain white rice with this dish and it will be fine.
While the food at Bo House is ok, the service tends to feel a bit like a very mellow version of the Three Stooges. I spotted some friends eating in the cafe proper and I got up to go and say 'Hi'. One staffer was bizarrely confrontational in finding out what I was doing or if I needed anything. "Madam! Where are you going?!? What do you need!?!" I know, everyone in Dubai is afraid that if something is wrong they'll get fired, but if Bo House wants to cultivate itself as a cool meeting place the staff needs to chill about people wandering around the restaurant.
Also, pretty much the instant my final forkful of salad hit my mouth, a server came rushing over and grabbed away the salad plate and utensils, without saying a word, which annoys me. But when we had finished our curry, the empty dishes sat in front of us long enough to gather flies. Timing is everything and Bo House seems to have a problem with offering the sort of laid back but highly functional service that make some 'Bohemian' restaurants truly cool places to go.