Leku Ona in Boise, Idaho

This is one of those posts that simply has to get made. Date night wasn’t exactly fun tonight.

Neither one of us was excited to go out, but we did anyway. We enjoy each other’s company, that’s probably why we got married.

Since we hit one Boise institution for breakfast, we decided to try another. I grew up in Elko, Nevada, and it’s full of Basque people. It has traditionally been home of some fabulous Basque restaurants too.

Boise is another hotbed of Basque people. There is an entire part of town called the Basque Block. That’s where Leku Ona is situated. It’s always been considered an upscale local place.

It appears they closed for a little over a month for a remodel, and tonight was the grand re-opening. I made the mistake of going into the bar and they seated us. When they brought a bar menu, we asked what the deal was. It turns out the restaurant is upstairs, and the bar waitress walked us up.

The hostess complained that there were a lot of reservations, and she didn’t know where to place us. The bar waitress wasn’t having any of that nonsense, and took us up anyway. Kudos to the bar waitress, who actually deserved a tip she never got.

Turns out there was only one other table occupied. There was another one with a reserved card on it. The remodel looked really nice. Two wine glasses each, gobs of silverware, bread and salad plates, plus soup bowl. Have you got the image of the kind of place?

Basque restaurants traditionally have some stuff most people would find strange. Examples are sweetbreads, tongue, tripe, and ink fish. (These are squid, but not the calamari you might be familiar with.) Remember, I grew up on this stuff so it isn’t bizarre to me. I’m a big believer in embracing the culture when I go to an ethnic restaurant. I ordered the tongue. (Which I’ve always liked.)

“We don’t have that tonight.”

“Okay, I’ll have the lamb chops.”

“We don’t have those either.”

Now lamb is very traditional at a Basque restaurant. I was a little bit disappointed.

“Why don’t I give you a minute to look at the menu.”

About a half-hour later the waitress came back. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a long time to me.

“I’ll have the sirloin.”

Wait for it… Tension here… “We don’t have that either. I’ll come back in a moment.”

I stopped her. I took this approach instead, “What do you actually have?”

“We have the ribeye.”

Now the ribeye was $13 more than the sirloin. I could have bought three ribeyes for what they were asking, and by this time, I wasn’t about to be upgraded. Did they offer me the ribeye for the same price as the sirloin? Of course not.

She went down the menu and there were at least two additional items they did not have. I settled for a lamb meatloaf.

All in all, it was edible. My wife had chicken, and it was edible. On the way home my wife said she could make a better meal than that. That isn’t idle boasting, because my wife is a fabulous cook, but she was right.

Visits from the waitress were about half an hour apart. We were there for about 2.5 hours, for a meal that should have taken an hour.

When the folks for the reserved table arrived, I listened to a similar scenario. Their waitress told them the place had been crazy busy and they sold out of the items they wanted. (Still only about one-third full by now.)

So there you have it. Overpriced restaurant, putting on airs they could not live up to, limited menu with mediocre food, and lousy service. I half expected someone to offer me free flan or something, but they did not.

If you ever come to Boise, that’s a yes for Merrit’s Country Cafe, and a big no for Leku Ona. I’m posting this so any unsuspecting diner might find it before they go there. Don’t believe me, check the tags I put on this post.

The whole thing reminded me of this, but it wasn’t funny:

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39 Comments

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39 responses to “Leku Ona in Boise, Idaho

  1. There are sooooo many of those sorts of places in the Orlando area. We boast over 35,000 restaurants in the tri-county area and the “high-end” ones are typically the worst food and worst service. I ordered a shrimp salad at one that was $11.00 for a small pile of shredded lettuce with exactly two tiny shrimp on the corner of the plate. When I complained to the server, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Cook’s a little slack tonight.” No amends. No tip. Never went back. Place closed down a couple of months later. BTW…tongue is great when it’s cooked right. It’s just a muscle, like any other…but folk get weirded-out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Two and a half hours? That’s definitely pushing things. Good thing you didn’t have to be somewhere after. Would be very frustrating to have show tickets or something, only to miss it for a meal that took eons to come!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Senseless waste of human life–unless we can blog it of course!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. And they expect to stay in business? At that rate, not for long, I don’t think. Sorry your date night was so bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So Leku Ona has been around a long time, opened in 2005. I’ve had some good experiences there and some bad ones. Friday two co-workers and I went there for lunch. A salad and two chorizos. 90 minutes. Not good. A few months ago a club I’m in had our meeting up on their rooftop patio. I ordered a pitcher of beer. I ended up with the wrong beer in the pitcher three times. Not sure what’s up lately, but they need to get it together. I’d say try them again in six months, and don’t be afraid to walk out and go down two doors to Bardenay, where I’ve never had a bad experience. Try the trout, it’s excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been to Bardenay many times. It’s great, but not a Basque place. Epi’s in Meridian is, but it’s a slightly different experience than classical Basque. Adding your story to mine does not give me confidence.

      Like

  6. What a shame. I’m way too picky a eater to try a Basque restaurant. Does tongue look as gross cooked vs. uncooked, because at the butcher it kind of freaks me out.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sorry the date night didn’t work out. I’ve had similar experiences in ‘high end’ restaurants or whatever they want to call themselves. Especially when they’re new because it feels like they are still learning what they can and can’t do. Curious as to what sweetbreads and ink fish are. I like calamari, but I get the feeling ink fish is a different experience. Thanks for the warning.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I walked into a high-end steak house in Orlando once. It was nearly empty and when I walked up to the hostess, she asked if I had reservations. I couldn’t resist the opening. I said, “Yes, but I’ll eat here anyway.” She obviously didn’t get the joke and I decided that I couldn’t eat somewhere that didn’t get my jokes.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ugh. We’re the kind of people who would probably leave before the half hour would come to pass. I understand your wife’s claim and feel similarly. I don’t like to eat out for food I can better prepare at home and I mean that. But it’s not much a date if we shop for it, prepare it, and clean it up, so there are times this must be negotiated.
    Glad you at least spent the evening with fine company πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prep, cooking, and cleanup is a big part of why we go out. It wouldn’t have taken much effort to print out a one day menu for what they actually had available. They could solve the supply problems before putting out the full menu.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh that sucks! Sometimes when you want a discount or want to be comped something, you just have to ask. Customer service isn’t what it used to be!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Any restaurant that has a menu should have every item on the menu and be apologetic for any item missing. Sounds like a nightmare place. I was going to buy it but just told them to forget it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love Monty Python, I do not however like tongue or tripe or even sirloin or ribeye (I don’t do organs or red meat). Date nights are always fun but I can see where this one would have been aggravating. Nice that you had an evening out all the frustration aside.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. In this case I’ve got an publisher’s deadline of March 31st, so I’ve got to finish the thing and then go through and do a clean-up edit on it before I ship it off to them. After they get it, we’ll do several more rounds of edits back and forth, but there are a lot of things I need to clean up that my CP pointed out, before I send to my publisher. This is the first time I’ve ever committed to a publishing contract deadline BEFORE I started writing the book!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Aww, thanks. That is much appreciated! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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