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Lava; Bamboo Café

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Lava

The promise of "fiery atmosphere, fiery food" at Lava fizzles almost as soon as you pass through the greasy-handprint-smudged glass doors. In the front you've got a bar/lounge/dance floor, in the back is the dining room — an enormous space dotted with 25 bare-topped tables and a handful of booths.

For starters, we tried two of the featured appetizers: fried calamari ($5.50) and bruschetta ($5). The main meal consisted of a pork chop ($12) that tasted like a hot dog. The chef plated it up on top of roasted red potatoes and green beans. Another choice was the meatloaf ($11) described on the menu as "certified Angus beef." They might think about adding "and twice as much filler" to that description. What else is on the menu? Seafood pasta ($13), grilled salmon ($13), filet mignon ($18), chicken pasta ($10) and crŠme br–lée ($6). At least it's not terribly expensive.

The food is average at best, and not worth the trip, the time or the dollars. Lava has a big, soulless dining room with a big kitchen, lots of freezer space, limited skill on the line and an emphasis on quantity over quality. — Noel Patrick

Lunch: Monday-Friday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Bar open: Tuesday/Thursday 5 p.m. - 12 a.m.,
Wednesday/Friday/Saturday 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Live music Wednesday and Friday,br>Closed Sunday




Bamboo Café

Once you've found the Bamboo Café, it harbors few secrets and no gimmicks. The atmosphere is uninspiring yet simple and comfortable; the American and sometimes cross-continental menu is predictable but executed consistently. And when it comes to service, Bamboo ranks high.

We arrived on a Monday to a blackboard selection of specials including chicken, pork, beef and seafood ranging from $9.95 to $14.95. The tuna carpaccio came drizzled with a sweet teriyaki sauce with mandarin orange over jasmine rice ($13.95). My friend ordered the oven-roasted skewers of mahi-mahi in basil butter topped with a red pepper pesto over jasmine rice ($14.95).

Though the restaurant appeared to be busier than normal for a Monday, the entrees were served punctually. The tuna was moist and moderately fresh, although the teriyaki sauce was a little overpowering for my taste. The rice and broccoli helped balance the dish, and I enjoyed my meal thoroughly. My friend's dinner also had an excellent presentation. The mahi was roasted at an appropriate medium-well and seasoned delicately; its natural flavor was slightly stronger, suggesting its moderate freshness. Her plate was left as clean as mine with no room for dessert, or "pie," I should say. — Aer Stephens

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