Food & Drink » Appetite

Volley-bawl

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Knocking the food at BooDad's almost seems unfair, because it's really not the point of the place. When, on our first visit, we encountered a lot so packed with cars we had to go find some space in a dirt patch, it wasn't because the Cajun-inspired menu had bon vivants clamoring for a table; we actually could have sat anywhere in the restaurant. It's because there's more to the menu than meat.

For instance, you might describe the most sought after offerings at the eastern "beach house" like this: beer, including stuff from Firestone Walker and New Belgium brewing companies, is the appetizer; volleyball, and the 2,000 tons of sand it's played on, is the main course; and beefcake — lots and lots of beefcake — is what's for dessert.

Of course, it's long been this way in these parts. Whether you called the rebooted spot Sharkey's, or Porky's or Oscar's East, you came for the pits and you stayed for the pints. Throw in the patios, outdoor bar and contained fires, and 5910 Omaha Blvd. has always made for a hell of a place to spend a summer night.

But, fair or not, it's not a great place to eat — though it is a great place to see a good concept that needs some tightening up.

For instance, service was very spotty on both visits, including one time where we waited for a half-hour at the end of a meal for a melted and mushy bananas Foster ($5.95), and never saw the second dessert we ordered. On the food side, we watched the optional cheese sauce that comes with the otherwise textbook tater tots ($3.95, plus 50 cents) completely solidify shortly after it was dropped off.

Another time, we were warned by our server that, despite the color of the fish and chips ($7.95), they were not burned. Disclaimer be damned: That cod was burned, with the batter clinging to the fish like a sticky shell.

More: the B's Pasta, with overdone chicken ($8.95), came coated in completely tasteless alfredo, with no kick save for its sun-dried tomatoes; the étouffée ($9.95) got props for its noticeable back-end heat and fluffy rice, but acted more like a thick, lukewarm gravy flecked with little bits of crawfish; and the bacon-wrapped shrimp ($9.95) crunched with fried joy, but wanted for any depth except the vinegar bite of wing sauce it was dipped in.

Lack of promised flavor was a big thing. Besides the aforementioned, even the Bayou Burger ($9.95) — a "½ lb of Creole seasoned Angus beef topped with fried shrimp and crispy fried onions and smothered in BooSauce" — tasted like nothing so much as a nicely cooked hamburger on a good, chewy telera roll. The shrimp and onions were present in name only, and hell if I could taste any of the restaurant's rémoulade.

There was some hope, though: The shrimp and corn bisque ($3.95) and French Quarter Onion Soup ($2.95) were both great, though the latter's liquid was entirely sucked up by its bread, and the shrimp po-boy ($8.95) popped hot and fresh. As well, the muffaletta ($9.95), on a dense, crusty roll, held its own, even if the olive-salad-to-deli-meat ratio swung the wrong direction.

Ultimately, I say you bump up the beer, set the table with what is working and spike much of the rest.

bryce@csindy.com

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