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REVIEW: BO-beau Kitchen and Bar in Ocean Beach

A flatbread at BO-beau
A flatbread at BO-beau
Courtesy Photo

Thirty years ago there weren’t a lot of places to eat in San Diego. Anyone looking for more than a good taco had 4 or 5 choices, and Thee Bungalow was one of them. Along with the old red velvet drapes of Mr. A’s and the bayfront location of Lubach’s, Thee Bungalow served a multitude of delectable country French dinners and was no doubt party to countless marriage proposals, anniversaries and a scandal or two. When the Cohn Restaurant Group took the place over a few years back, they breathed some life into the old girl, but it was time for a complete makeover.

On a Friday night in late March, we tried BO-beau Kitchen & Bar for the first time. It most certainly will not be our last. The funky nature of this little cottage next to Robb Field in Ocean Beach never ceases to charm. Right down to the tiny dirt and gravel parking lot with everyone getting wildly creative positioning their car to just barely allow other guests to maneuver. No big. Everyone is very happy to be here and we all were delighted to smush in.

BO-beau is every bit the old French farmhouse. Antique farm and gardening tools decorate the entry, and a warm wood and stone interior filled with mirrors, gorgeous heavy wood tables and much laughter fills the small but comfortable space. An immense chalkboard conveys the menu and an intimate bar takes up a tiny space behind the hostess desk. There are two dining areas inside and a patio, and we were fortunate enough to get a four top in the main dining room with the large picture window looking out onto the street. Nothing to see, but fun nevertheless.

Gotta love those Cohn folks. They were not kidding when they gave this place a facelift. New Chef, staff, menu and all. The vibe is one of the really fabulous parts of BO-beau. The staff is casual, charming, radiant and the guests are all just dang happy to be there.

It didn’t take more than 30 seconds for our fabulous wait team to greet us and begin the feast. Being Friday night, cocktails were the first item in order and the Le Provencal and Toulouse Latrec’s Earthquake fit the bill. The first was a lovely concoction of lavender, rosemary and vodka, while the latter was a kick-you-in-the-teeth cognac and absinthe. Save that one for when you need to thin out a little paint.

After those cocktails, food was quickly needed. Crispy brussels sprouts arrived in a huge serving with pancetta, parmesan and balsamic glaze. This dish is outrageously good and takes brussels sprouts to an ethereal level. Pommes frites served in a paper cone with romesco aioli soothed the soul and the corquet madame tartine was beyond delicious. Delivered on a wooden cutting board, this marriage of sliced pork belly, gruyere topped with a fried egg and parmesan reduction was a magical dish. Just order four of those and eat them one after the other.

The braised short ribs on flatbread from the wood stone oven was delightful and surprisingly light considering the fact that it was also slathered with horseradish smashed potatoes and chives. The Caesar salad and French onion soup were good, but not earth moving. Go for the roasted beet salad with peppery arugula, chevre and champagne vinaigrette. It's very fresh and a lovely mixture of textures, colors and flavors.

At this point, entrees were almost impossible to consider, but one look at the rotini and meatballs at our neighboring table gave us the power to push through it. At that point, we might as well try the bouillabaisse, too, huh? Both were fabulous and the marinara, pancetta, roasted mushroom, ricotta, pine nuts and basil with the rotini was heavenly. Being huge red sauce fans, do not take it lightly when we say this is one of the best ever. Every bite made the eyes fly open wide and unconscious sounds emanate from your normally mute palette. The bouillabaisse was hearty, loaded with fresh seafood and packed a nice little kick of spice and flavor with each bite.

The Cohn’s have done it again with another true winner on the San Diego dining scene. Leave it to them to find wonderfully personable Executive Chef Katherine Humphus and just let her work her magic. Classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and having interned at The French Laundry, with a bit of a stint at wd-50 in Manhattan, Chef Katherine has the goods. Being a San Diego native just brings the whole thing together. Make sure to say hello if you can pry her from the kitchen. She’s a real talent.

There are so many good things to say about BO-beau that we could go on forever. From the wine list showing “cheap, decent, and good to very good” as descriptions and the spectacular desserts we passed on, you just have to experience it. Welcome back BO-beau. We’ll be seeing you often!

Details »
  • City: Ocean Beach, San Diego
  • Phone: 619-224-2884
  • Name: Bo Beau Kitchen & Bar
  • Address: 4996 West Point Loma Blvd.