Food

First Look: Bistro Bohem

This pierogi-and-pilsner spot is all a neighborhood bistro should be.
Bistro Bohem’s scene is fueled by a selection of well-balanced cocktails. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Bistro Bohem’s scene is fueled by a selection of well-balanced cocktails. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Slideshow: Inside Bistro Bohem

Around the corner from DC’s elegantly revamped Howard Theatre
and down the street from the recently reopened Shaw’s Tavern is the tiny
Bistro Bohem, whose convivial energy is palpable the moment you walk in
the door.

One early-summer evening, a doe-eyed Miss District of Columbia
showed up, her silky sash shining, and mingled with the happy-hour crowd
while an elderly couple in the corner looked on smiling. Behind the
rounded bar, staff churned out Bohemian Margaritas—a well-balanced mix of
Broker’s gin, orange-blossom mead (honey wine), and lemon juice—and poured
beers.

Prague native Jarek Mika opened the restaurant, done up with
pendant lights and wood-topped tables, in March with chef Robin Jurek, a
fellow Czech, in the kitchen. The idea was to serve both small and
shareable portions of classic dishes from their home country’s
cuisine—goulash, chicken schnitzel, and the potato dumplings called
halusky.

Paprika is everywhere—perking up a dip for house-made potato
chips, in an aïoli that complements crumb-crusted cauliflower florets, and
in a creamy fettuccine sauce with chicken. A trio of refreshing
salads—tomato, bean, and cucumber—offers a welcome breather from all the
meat, dough, and cream.

The menu’s star, however, is the chicken schnitzel. Servers
ferry plates of the juicy, panko-crusted chicken, accompanied by rich
potato salad, to tables in the 35-seat dining room and outside on the
lovely patio. It tastes great with a glass of crisp white wine or a cold
Pilsner—a combination as easy to like as the friendly neighborhood bistro
itself.

This article appears in the July 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

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