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.