Bohemian House review: Eastern European Fare with Rustic Charm

Bohemian-House-ChicagoDisclaimer: Although I review restaurants as date destinations for couples, this review stems from a mother-daughter date. While Bohemian House has a lusciously rustic vibe ideal for a date, it’s vibrant enough that you could bring your out-of-town mother, or make it a double couple date with your significant other’s parents or the like.

Amidst the current decade of DIY and repurposed everything, many new restaurants in Chicago go for a “we made this” look and feel with their furnishings, but not all actually do. Billy Sunday actually sourced its china from estate sales throughout the Midwest, and The Kitchen built its communal tables and bar tops from Chicago’s old Zenith Building. I’m pleased to add Bohemian House to this short list, who had their tables constructed from existing furniture by a good friend of mine and his business partner, the two burly geniuses behind Crooked Nail Co.

You’ll also notice, regardless where you sit, the focal point of the restaurant: a large table, legs removed, mounted on the wall and covered with assorted antique china. This display was created by local design trio Kel + Co, and reveals what Thanksgiving in an Anthropologie store might look like, or in their words, “a balance of that ‘old world’ feel and quirkiness of bohemia.”

What we ate: The deviled eggs ($7) are an eccentric sight and bite of smoked whitefish, pickled “cherry bomb” peppers and crispy shallots, and the earthy-yet-buttery slow roasted beets ($9) are a must. I went with the spätzle ($18) for my entree, my first foray with the German dish, and only halted half-way through to prevent a cream-induced coma that would be totally worth it. She ordered the Czech-roasted duck leg ($23) with turnips, essence of cider and sweet and sour cabbage. Each ingredient in our dishes tasted of the utmost freshness, and while the vegetables involved certainly were Old World (turnips, I’m looking at you), I have a new respect for many of the legumes I snubbed as a child.

What we drank: The cocktails are strong and delightfully complex, warranting their $10-plus price tags. I had the Fashionably Czech ($11) of maple bourbon, becherovka, clove, bitters and their house syrup. She had the Infused Fashion ($12) of  housemade vanilla, fig bourbon, and orange essence. With our entrees, I had a glass of the Tamari Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina, $10), and she the Seven Falls Cabernet (Wahluke Slope, Wash., $11). Both were delectably rich and paired well with the food.

Make it a date: After dinner, maintain the historic sophistication theme with cocktails at Celeste. Their rooftop patio might not be open yet, but their interior is far superior.

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