First Look at Bistro Bohem


Bistro Bohem is a promising new addition to the Shaw area. The servers are friendly and upbeat and the vibe on a Saturday night was simultaneously energetic and low-key/casual. The restaurant makes the most of its tiny space by doing away with seating at the island/bar that sits in the middle of the restaurant. Similarly, some space at the main bar is standing only.

Bistro Bohem specializes in Czech cuisine. (The menu can be found here.) My friend and I selected a few of the more traditional Czech dishes for our first visit. We sampled the house-made pâté, potato pancakes, pierogi, and beef goulash. The pierogi and potato pancakes were fantastic. The potato-filled pierogi, topped with sautéed onions and a light cream sauce, were well-seasoned and hearty. The potato pancakes were served over field greens and topped with chunks of chicken breast mixed with a garlic aioli sauce. They were devilishly delicious. In comparison, the house-made pâté and goulash were quite flat. They were both in desperate need of seasoning. The one intriguing component of the goulash were the bread dumplings. They resembled something between bread and potato with a chewy consistency. To my surprise, I liked them. They would have been the perfect foil to the goulash, had the goulash been seasoned properly. Maybe the inconsistency in flavor and seasoning are the result of new kitchen woes. The restaurant has only been fully operational for about a week. I guess only time will tell.

We also sampled one of the speciality cocktails — the Fernet martini. It’s made with ginger-infused vodka, Fernet Branca, and lime juice. I’d never had or heard of Fernet Branca before, but I liked the other ingredients and thought I’d give it a shot. For those that have never had it, Fernet Branca is an Italian liqueur/bitter. Its taste is sharp, bitter, and somewhat earthy. Some say it aids in digestion. All I know for sure is that it is not for me. The overwhelming flavor of the Fernet and the ginger made it hard to drink the martini. Of course, I drank the whole thing. I am a big proponent of “the no drink left behind” way of life. Next time, beer may be the better route. The menu had an interesting selection of beers — many of which I don’t often see at other local bars.

As I said, Bistro Bohem shows promise. Their patio area will soon be open and I’d like to go back during the summer and after the restaurant has had a few months to settle in. It would also be nice if they add some lighter fare for those sweltering DC summer days. Just the idea of eating pierogi and potato pancakes in 90-degree weather makes me sweat.