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AT INDEPENDENT BOMBA, FRESHNESS NEVER TASTED SO GOOD.

Byline: Larry Lipson Daily News Restaurant Critic

The single-outlet, independent fast-food operator in the suburbs has to contend with heavy-duty competition from well-financed chains.

Consequently, it behooves a new rotisserie chicken eatery such as Bomba Cafe in West Hills to be that much better than its chain counterparts in as many ways as possible.

Bomba, a clean, spacious facility (with an almost hangarlike interior) in a main intersection shopping center at Platt Avenue and Victory Boulevard, tries to achieve its one-upmanship by promoting freshness, quality and a healthier product.

But, in fact, its real allure is that everything it makes tastes good.

It also sets itself apart by bringing food to each table on real china, not the usual cardboard or plastic.

And though customers order (and pay in advance) at the counter like most of these quasi self-service places, you don't have to worry about carrying (and perhaps dropping) your food on the way back to your table.

Call it cash and serve instead of cash and carry.

As for Bomba's gratifying flavors, that can be attributed, in part, to from-scratch food preparation - and that includes producing its very own salad dressings and premises-baked cookies.

And it utilizes hormone-free chickens that come off the rotisserie at exactly the right time, with a touch of crispness on each herbed exterior and plenty of moisture in the flesh.

Yes, rotisserie cooking can be tricky. There's always the tendency to leave the chicken on longer during slacker times or pull it off too soon when busy. When the timing isn't right, that's when the customer ends up with either blood-red meat near the bones of undercooked chickens, or dry, tasteless, overcooked stuff.

Thankfully, none of that happened at Bomba.

The only problem that arose was during an initial visit when the entree dishes came up too soon. Of course, most patrons at Bomba don't order soups, salads, main courses and several side dishes at one sitting like a restaurant reviewer.

Incidentally, if you don't like chicken, better stay away from this place.

It comes many ways here.

In addition to being served as a whole, half- or quarter-chicken off the rotisserie, it's available in salads - the best being the house barbecued chicken salad (half $5.95, whole $7.95); in wraps (not my preference); in soups - with spinach and mushrooms (bowl $1.95, pint $2.85, quart $5.95) my favorite; and in a chicken salad sandwich on a sourdough roll ($6.95) that's messy but good.

Bomba rounds out its chicken offerings with more than a dozen side accompaniments (half-pint $1.95, pint $3.95, quart $6.95).

Potatoes (mashed or roasted) are nicely executed. And there are expertly cooked, light-on-the-palate offerings of acorn squash and sweet corn.

Cucumber with fresh dill and a cold bow-tie pesto pasta salad have been other well-received side dishes.

As for endings, they're minimal here, just house-baked cookies ($1 each). Thumbs up for the peanut butter and chocolate chip ones.

In fact, thumbs up for Bomba as a whole - a brave, independent chicken fast-food cafe that knows how to exceed its competition.

THE FACTS

The restaurant: Bomba Cafe.

Where: 6440 Platt Ave., West Hills.

Phone: (818) 615-0333.

When: Open for lunch, dinner and snacks from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Recommended items: Rotisserie chicken, soups, chicken salad sandwich on sourdough roll, Caesar salad, barbecued chicken salad, potatoes (roasted or mashed), cold pesto pasta salad, cucumber salad, corn relish, acorn squash, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

Children's menu: Chicken leg with small side dish and pita bread ($2.45) or optional small side dish with pita bread ($1).

How much: Everything under $8 except family special meals (feed two to five persons, $14 to $36). No alcohol. AE, MC, V.

Our rating: Three stars for food; Three stars for value.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: Bomba Cafe co-owner Nelda Farrington, left, chef Francisco Alvarez and co-owner Rick Brainin offer some of the restaurant's specialties.

Gus Ruelas/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1999 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Restaurant Review
Date:Apr 2, 1999
Words:665
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