I decided to pay a visit to Boneyard Bistro for two reasons: their extensive beer list and the promise of sweet potato fries. Located on busy Ventura Boulevard amidst dozens of other restaurants, Boneyard Bistro is a bit hard to spot. We had no trouble parking on the street, but we may have benefited from the cold weather keeping people home. Still, the hostess acted like we should have made a reservation (which I always find annoying), but we somehow got what I considered to be the best table in the house--a corner booth next to the window.
The food is rather pricey for what it is (largely barbecue) and where it's located (things are supposed to be cheaper in the Valley, right?), so I ordered two appetizers for my meal instead of an entree. But first, they brought us mini cornbread muffins and crusty, flavorful bread accompanied by butter served at just the right temperature for spreading. I also ordered a hefeweizen beer. The beer list, divided by style, was quite extensive, but they didn't have the first two beers I asked for, which made me wonder how much of their overall list they actually had on hand. I ended up with the Avery White Rascal for $10 (a six pack of this beer is only $9.49 at BevMo!). With most bottles of respectable beer priced at $8 and up, I didn't really feel like ordering more than one. That's a lot of money for a twelve-ounce bottle of beer. On Mondays, however, beer is half-price. Monday is also fried chicken night, and several other nights have special themes as well. They serve brunch on Sundays.
Pulled pork dumplings
The first appetizer I tried, pulled pork dumplings in a barbecue beurre blanc sauce, was fairly disappointing. The sauce was a lot more strongly flavored than I anticipated based on the description--I guess I was focused on the beurre blanc part of the description, not the barbecue. There was so much sauce that it overwhelmed the filling, and the dumplings, which were more like ravioli, were difficult to cut into bite-sized pieces. The coleslaw, however, was excellent--not too mayonaissey and nice and crunchy.
Sweet potato fries
Fortunately, the sweet potato fries lived up to my expectations. Not only were they wonderfully crispy, which is difficult to do at home, the portion was huge, allowing me to enjoy some as leftovers. I combined my sweet potato fries with some aioli that came with a friend's dish, and it really complemented the fries perfectly. I think that aioli should be served with every plate of fries.
Boneyard Bistro serves a selection of burgers with a range of toppings such as applewood bacon, sauteed onions, and sauteed chantrelle mushrooms. All of their burgers are made of Snake River Farms American Kobe-style Wagyu beef, which is leaps and bounds above other hamburger meat. This stuff practically melts in your mouth and is totally worth the seemingly ridiculous $20 price tag. In my experience, other places that charge $20 for a burger don't even come close. Also, I've looked into ordering this beef directly from Snake River Farms, and it really ain't cheap. I think that gorging myself on a $32 double burger would probably be a better idea than ordering the stuff raw--then I don't have to risk screwing it up with my lack of meat-cooking skills. Meditrina Cafe in Venice serves a similar burger, but Boneyard's is significantly better.
While we were dining, Chef Aaron Robins visited every table. He didn't strike me as terribly personable, but he has a behind-the-scenes kind of job after all, and I still appreciated the effort he went to to make sure all his customers were enjoying their meals. The dining room is small, with a few private booths, generously sized dark wood tables, exposed brick walls, and framed mirrors. A large flat-screen TV near the kitchen detracts a bit from the otherwise warm atmosphere. Overall, the restaurant and staff had a very friendly, down-to-earth vibe, but I felt a little jilted when our server dropped the check on our table without ever asking if we wanted dessert. I thought that perhaps they didn't offer dessert, but the website says that I missed out on chocolate whiskey flourless cake, dulce de leche bon bons, and tawny ports.
Overall, I really liked this restaurant and I plan to return for more sweet potato fries, my very own burger, and with any luck, some dessert. I think I'll pass on the beer, though, and stop at BevMo on the way home instead.
13539 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Boneyard Bistro Website