The Bohemian Gastropub is located on Queen West between Denison and Portland, taking over the space once occupied by Oh Boy Burger . Directly across from French bistro La Palette , chef Paul Boehmer's newest venture adds to the momentum of the area's budding European vibe.
The new venue bears the trademark umlaut of the chef's swanky Ossington digs Boehmer and a similar rustic-glam decor. Here, Boehmer's extravagant chandeliers are replaced with an industrial-chic multi-bulb lighting fixture, the restaurant's centerpiece. The tables are set with simple striped dish clothes in lieu of napkins, a touch that tones down The Bohemian's initially ritzy vibe.
A smiling server greets us and watches as we browse the menu. It's a Tuesday night, and only a few tables are occupied. As we take a seat, he brings us a round of sparkling water, beaming and telling us he is "very excited" we are staying. Charmed, we start with questions about the drinks and he walks us through a list that includes locally brewed beer and one staple German pilsner. We settle on the Spearhead Hawaiian Pale Ale ($6 for a pint), an amazing pineapple-infused brew.
The menu is a selection of German and Alsatian offerings. The appetizer list is impressive, and we hungrily order more than we can handle. Our meal kicks off with the spaetzle poutine ($10), which combines generous morsels of meat and bouncy cheese curds to delicately simple German dumplings. The elements come together under a generous helping of silky bratwurst gravy.
The celeriac salad ($8) is the perfect counterpoint to the rich poutine. Thin slivers of apples and celeriac pack a soft, zesty crunch, spiked with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and tossed in a subtly sweet pumpkin seed dressing.
Deep fried smelts ($9) are the most anticipated order. A seasonal staple in my rural Northern Ontario hometown, I am ecstatic to find the small fish on the menu and spend a portion of the meal waxing poetic about them. While I am disappointed they do not melt in the mouth like the ones my grandfather used to make, they are deliciously prepared in a gorgeous, light batter and served with a lovely caper mayo.
The fried zucchini dumplings ($7) are a highlight. Beautifully presented, the dumplings marry soft, grated zucchini to tangy cheddar, the mixture enveloped in a crisp exterior. Riesling-concord grape chutney is the selected pairing, and the combination is exquisite: the fruit are juicy and sharply sweet, balancing out the warm, buttery dough.
For the mains, we order the tantalizing currywurst ($10) and the beef and mushroom "baker's oven" ($19). An upscale take on the popular German fast-food, the wurst is fabulous. The fresh, succulent sausage is topped with spicy arugula and a generous helping of mango pickle, all on a soft yet lightly grilled white bun.
The baker's oven is served in a tiny, fire-engine red Le Creuset, with a side of roasted vegetables in light gravy. The meat is tender oxtail, cooked to luscious perfection with pearl onions and fat slivers of mushrooms. However, within a few minutes the sauce on the vegetables has congealed to develop a gluey consistency.
Overall, this is a minor detail to an altogether beautiful evening, and we walk out raving about our experience. With its large, breezy windows and great atmosphere, The Bohemian Gastropub is off to a great start: the delicious food and warm, friendly service make it a great bet for a lovely meal.