Tag Archives: dining

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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