The City Paper reports that Bistro Bohem‘s mixologist (cocktail chef), Mark Reyburn, has defected across 6th Street to Shaw’s Tavern. Reyburn intends to infuse Shaw’s menu with Civil War-era cocktails befitting the venue’s namesake.
Considering that Bohem’s cocktails were exceptionally good when I reviewed the place in May, Reyburn’s new grog gig is sure to please.
The City Paper also notes that Shaw’s plans to add a roofdeck within two months. I have come to learn, however, that these build-outs typically take longer than even the most ambitious restaurateurs expect.
But even with Shaw’s salvo of a new cocktail list and roofdeck, Bohem isn’t ready to surrender so easily. Bohem is planning a Reconstruction of its own, in fact. The Bohem dominion is expanding into the space next door that used to be Zee’s Restaurant. The new Cafe Bohem will open on September 3 and will serve coffee and pastries.
With the opening of Bistro Bohem, the corner of Florida Avenue and 6th Street is turning into a tiny culinary colony along Florida Avenue. Bohem’s popularity scuttled our plans for our first visit. It was 9 pm and we walked over looking to try it out. It was packed and there was a waiting list for both the tables and for the bar. All this on a Tuesday night!
After just a few weeks of operation, though, the restaurant is expanding into the old retail space that contained Zee’s, the Trinidadian restaurant that only lasted a few months. A sign on the window christens the space “Café Bohém”. On the 6th Street front, Bohem has added much-needed outdoor seating. We can imagine sitting there, sipping Bohem’s signature Bohemian margarita and watching the passersby. Many LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale residents walk by this intersection on their way to and from the Metro. On our visit, we spotted several neighbors returning from work.
The Bohemian margarita, by the way, was the best item we enjoyed on our recent visit to the restaurant. It’s not nearly as sweet as a regular margarita and benefits from the distinct taste of gin.
While the drink was noteworthy, the food needed some work. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either. Bohem offers a variety of “small plates” derived from the cuisine of Eastern Europe. The lightly browned mushrooms were served with a delicious garlic paprika aioli, but the mushrooms themselves suffered from being, well, mushrooms.
Mushrooms can be difficult to cook. They absorb water like sponges, resisting your best effort to dehydrate or saute them. Though the mushrooms were coated in breadcrumbs and fried, they were still disappointingly watery inside.
A popular dish is the pierogi, a typical eastern European dumpling stuffed with a potato cheese filling. Bohem garnishes the dish with caramelized onions.
We hope it was a coincidence, but the pierogi dish contained a watery sauce, as evidenced by the photo. It’s decent, but like any pierogi dish, is simple in taste and perhaps better suited to snaking or breakfast. The caramelized onions were very… caramelized.
Tom Sietsema at the Post reviewed Bohem and recommends the chicken schnitzel, which he says “races ahead of the pack.” We will certainly try it on our next visit.
If you’re headed out for a serious meal, Shaw’s Tavern might be a better bet, but if you’re self-medicating the symptoms of a unpleasant job, Bistro Bohem’s drink menu will do the trick.
In January Tom Sietsema, the Post’s food critic, gave Zee’s Restaurant (600 Florida Avenue) a highly positive review. In fact, the restaurant is now listed as an editor’s pick on the Post’s website.
Curried goat, cooked over a low fire until the meat is tender, is almost a meal for two when you factor in the accompanying lettuce salad, the chunky potatoes and the folded flatbread known as roti. Chicken stew, seasoned with thyme and other herbs, comes with a shovelful of pigeon peas that are flecked with carrot and corn. (They could use a sprinkle of salt.) Shrimp, oxtail, beef and mixed vegetables are among the featured ingredients that are either curried or stewed, take your pick, at Zee’s.
We’re happy to see neighborhood businesses succeeding.
Zee’s Restaurant has opened up on Florida Avenue at Sixth Street. The Trinidadian restaurant is family-run and serves goat curry, potatoes, chickpeas, callaloo soup, and roti, among other things. The reviews, including an unpublished review from a newspaper food critic, are highly positive.
The liquor license is pending.