[Photos: Marc Much]
There's a small Bohemian restaurant nestled between a big-box party spot and a dive bar in River North. Opening tonight, Bohemian House is meant to feel like a Czech grandmother's living room—if said Czech grandmother is a professional chef who partnered with a neurosurgeon and lives in a former recording studio in the trendiest downtown neighborhood in Chicago.
"This is an amazing opportunity to bring something that's really unique to not only the neighborhood, but the city overall," chef Jimmy Papadopoulos says. "There's no TVs, the place is super unpretentious and I want the food to echo that."
Papadopoulous' opening menu, which you can read in full below, attempts to constantly evolve traditional Eastern European cooking. While employing seasonal ingredients, he also will butcher whole pigs and make sausage, pickles, preserves, and cured and smoked meats in house.
Papadopolous stresses that the opening menu will change, but highlights a bone marrow and steak tartare combo; chicken liver pate on rye with strawberries, house mustard and radish; bacon-stuffed buns with pickles and plum marmalade; and potato pancakes with house-made apple butter, kohlrabi, sour cream, house-cured gravlax and dill.
"Central European flair really echoes here in the Midwest," Papadopoulous says, "so I wanted to take the influences and the artistic nature of the Bohemian culture and thread it into that old world, humble cooking."
Another partner, Dan Pagano, is handling the beverage program. Look for a mix of European, American and local beer on 18 taps, as well as house cocktails, such as an old fashioned made with bourbon that's macerated with figs and vanilla.
The space holds 104 seats, including a front lounge with chesterfield couches, a 14-seat bar, two chef's tables, and traditional two and four-tops.
Will Bohemian House succeed in freshening up a traditional and underrepresented cuisine in a TV-less space in River North? Check it out for yourself beginning tonight.