From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT}borderstan.com
Amidst the lucky few in the District with elaborate travel plans to Greece or Prague or Italy, there are those of us who, though adventurous at heart, will remain stateside this summer to face the hundred plus degree temperatures head on through August.
Fear not, fellow bohemians! Bistro Bohem, in tandem with the recent renovation of the Howard Theatre and opening of Shaw Tavern, sits on the fringes of Borderstan and offers a relaxed atmosphere that is both true to its name and the flavors of Eastern Europe. And it’s close by at 600 Florida Avenue NW.
Wandering aimlessly in the heat on a Saturday afternoon, a friend and I decided to stop in for a light bite to eat to find ourselves delighted by the quality of the food and authenticity of the atmosphere.
Bistro Bohem’s patio provides a relaxed, neighborly ambiance that fosters easy conversation with neighboring tables. We knew immediately that our meal would just as accurately represent Eastern Europe when the couple next to us told us they were both from Hungary and frequented the location often.
My friend chose a light beer from a list of imports while I sipped on a Viennese coffee — hot coffee with Rogue Hazelnut Spiced Rum. At the end of a long day, it was a surefire pick-me-up: warm, alcoholic and satisfying.
Both of us generally herbivores and foreign to the majority of dishes on the menu, we eyed our Hungarian neighbors’ dishes for inspiration: she ordered the gazpacho, I ordered the trio of salads and we shared a dish called Halusky — potato gnocchis in sauerkraut and onions. Our appetizers tasted freshly of tomatoes, cucumber and onions.
Of the three tasting cups on my plate, a purple pureed cabbage salad was the most exotic and vibrant of the dishes. The heavier Halusky that followed filled us plenty with the kind of doughy texture that sticks to your bones. The sauerkraut’s bitterness shined brightly within a thin layer of gravy among the dumplings.
Fully satiated by our shared plates and drinks, our pockets hardly worse for wear, my friend and I were almost shocked to walk back out onto Florida Avenue. Bistro Bohem is the perfect patio restaurant for the flaneur Borderstani, and after having perused the brunch menu, is certainly on my list for my next European weekend getaway.