3346 North Clark St.
I was going to post something about apologizing for not updating, but then the internet at it, and that's probably a sign that I should stop apologizing and just get back to posting. So I will.
So, Bolat. Last Spring, I taught a lit class that had Wole Soyinka's autobiography, Ake, on the syllabus. Aside from being an interesting book, it was a book that featured quite a few rather tantalizing descriptions of food. So when a groupon for Bolat came up, I pounced.
Now, a word about groupon. I love groupon, I really do. But it's also kind of a mixed blessing. For a lot of restaurants, it means a sudden massive influx of clientele - one that they might not completely prepared for. In other words, your dining experience might not be quite as terrific as you might hope. This is particularly the case when you wait until the very last minute to use it (as my boyfriend as I inevitably seem to do). Because likely as not, there's a horde of people in the same position, all clamouring to get in. And if the restaurant is as tiny as Bolat, this is a recipe for disaster.
So, we ended up waiting 2 hours for a table instead of 45 minutes. All the more frustrating because there were three tables open for a good half hour of that wait. But Bolat has one bartender and one waiter and maybe 3 people in the kitchen, so I understand their desire to slow things down a bit. Especially because the people at the tables were already vociferously complaining about how long the food was taking. So yes, the service was not stellar. But maybe now that the groupon deal has ended, it's calmed down a bit. Also, I should add: the room is lovely. Small but very nicely decorated, and very pleasant.
Now, the food. I am not especially familiar with African cuisine, so I might not be the best source of information about this. We started with the Goat Pepper soup. The broth was good, but the vegetables floating in it seemed to be of the frozen variety, and were not so appealing. I was not wildly impressed, but my boyfriend quite liked it. Next, we got the Braised Oxtails with fried plantains. The plantains were delicious (I LOVE fried plantains) and the oxtails were great too - grilled and coated in a zesty sauce that was similar to barbeque, but more sweet than tangy. Very nice.
I'm really not sure what my boyfriend got as his main course. It was a variety of meats and some fish in a green sauce with rice. It was, in my opinion, not so great. He liked it, but didn't love it. I, on the other hand, was thrilled with my entree - the yamashoma, tender chunks of beef in a wonderful spicy sauce, accompanied by a giant ball of a polenta/cornmeal - just wonderful.
The price is slightly steeper than you might expect - it's not a super cheap meal, but not wildly expensive either - you can expect to spend around $25/person, more if you indulge in alcohol, which I rather regret that we didn't, as it looked intriguing. Overall, we're not in a hurry to go back, but I certainly wouldn't object to doing so.