Bohemian Brewery & Grill
94 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale ; 801-566-5474
A charmingly idiosyncratic brewery that takes food pairing seriously. Professional service.
Cuisine: German, Brew Pub
Hours: M-F, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; S, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Su, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Liquor: Full Service
Reservations: For large parties only
Recommended Dishes: Reuben sandwich, beer-battered fish and chips, garlic burger, chocolate cake, apple strudel.
April 12, 2006
Bohemian is heady and hearty
By Mary Brown Malouf
MIDVALE -- Brew pubs can present a reviewing challenge. I try to judge a restaurant by how well it accomplishes what it sets out to do. It is often hard to tell what a brew pub is trying to do. Is the menu conceived entirely in terms of beer or is it meant to stand on its own? Can you enjoy the food if you drink wine instead? Is the place a brew pub/restaurant or is it a brew pub/sports bar? Often, brew pub menus seem to be just an attempt to fill in the blank after beer, as in beer "n" pizza, beer "n" burgers, beer "n" wings.
I have no such qualms about Bohemian Brewery & Grill, a broken-mold bastion of beer and food pairing, a brew pub that takes food seriously, a restaurant that happens to make and serve really good beer. We discovered Bohemian's menu one holiday afternoon a few years ago. We stopped in for a beer and, after perusing the menu, we were seduced into ordering dinner. Each dish on the menu has a recommended beer; at Bohemian, beer and food pairing is taken as seriously as food and wine pairing.
I am not saying there is no pizza on the menu -- there is a whole section of it. But these pies ($12 for a 10-inch) are topped with what some would call "fancy-schmancy" ingredients: goat cheese, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and spinach. You also can build your own, four toppings cost $14.
Diners can choose from the pub or sandwich menu, including a classic reuben sandwich ($8; recommended beer: Czech Pilsener), beer-battered fish and chips ($12; Bavarian weiss) and a garlic burger ($8; Viennese lager) that made it into the Elite Eight in The Tribune's recent Burger Madness story. Starters include the requisite wings ($8) and nachos ($8).
But the heart of Bohemian's menu goes straight to the roots of brew: hearty Czech fare that complements sturdy beer. One buxom plate held a half-pound pirogi stuffed with dill-seasoned potatoes and cheese beside a plump grilled bratwurst, sauerkraut with bacon and onions and sour cream ($13). Bohemian goulash, a delicately seasoned but serious beef stew in a sweet paprika sauce came with a baseball-size bread dumpling ($10; Bohemian's cherny bock).
Dumplings are frequently misunderstood. There are baked dumplings, raised dumplings, even fried dumplings. Bohemian's bread dumpling (you only get one bohemoth, thank goodness) is made from leftover bread, molded together sort of like stuffing and then simmered until it swells and softens. The same dumpling comes with the Old World roast pork ($14). The meat is cooked until fork-tender and the fat of the meat and weight of the dish is balanced by the tang of sauerkraut. Correctly made, Eastern European food can be much lighter than expected.
Bohemian's division of dishes into pub fare and entrees seems a bit arbitrary; dishes from either list are enormous in size. Schnitzel ($14), from the entree list, is a disk of pork (or chicken) pounded out to plate size, quickly fried to form a crust and served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. I ordered chicken paprikash ($14) solely for the spaetzle, which even in this pasta-crazy age are hard to find. Good spaetzle require immediacy in preparation. They aren't star-quality food, but they are irresistible. Their pillowy blandness has all the comfort of mashed potatoes but with enough substance so your teeth have something to do. The spaetzle also comes as a side for $3, but the pungently fragrant -- not spicy -- paprika sauce gave them the raison d'être that every noodle needs.
Bohemian's décor is charmingly idiosyncratic, instead of the usual sports memorabilia, the high-ceilinged, teutonic hall is filled with lovingly polished vintage scooters. But our server was the real thing, efficient in that barmaid kind of way, expert at managing and navigating a room full of imbibers.
Surprisingly, Bohemian sometimes makes a great American-style chocolate cake -- moist, gooey and dark. If it's on the special dessert list, go for it and have it with ice cream, too. The regular desserts are European style — crepes with cream cheese and fruit ($5), terrific, flaky apple strudel ($5) and, you guessed it, another dumpling, this one with made with a fruit of the day and lapped with rich crème anglaise. At this stage of the meal, no beer is recommended.
Tribune's rating system
1 star Good
2 stars Very good
3 stars Excellent
4 stars Extraordinary
$ Entree under $10
$$$$ Above $25
1 bell Quiet (under 65 decibles)
2 bells Can talk easily (65-70)
3 bells Talking somewhat difficult (70-75)
4 bells Raised voices (75-80)
A bomb Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
The Tribune covers the cost of all meals at reviewed restaurants. Star ratings are based on a minimum of two visits. Ratings are updated continually based on at least one revisit. There is no connection between reviews and advertising.
September 20, 2002
Old West, Old World Collide at Bohemian Brewery and Grill
By Anne Wilson
MIDVALE -- There is a reason that Helen and Joseph Petras chose to open their new restaurant in a building that could be considered a culinary Bermuda Triangle: beer. The two-story building, which looks like a log cabin on steroids, houses a microbrewery, which must have seemed like fate to the placeless Petrases. These transplanted Czechs always had dreamed of brewing beer to serve with the hearty food they knew from home: bratwurst, schnitzel, goulash, stuffed cabbage and roast pork with bread dumplings.
What makes the Bohemian Brewery and Grill different from all the pub-style restaurants that tried and failed in this same spot is the food. Helen, who once owned a popular European-style restaurant in Murray that bore her name (she and Joe sold Helen's a couple of years back), has recruited the same staff that worked magic in her kitchen then. And they still have the touch. Fans of Helen's who remember her delectable chicken with blackberry brandy sauce won't be disappointed.
Beer lovers might be less happy. Joe, a novice brewer, hasn't perfected his technique yet, although two of his four beers (a crisp pilsner and the bitter bock, a great companion for bratwurst and sauerkraut) are very drinkable.
While the Bohemian menu is reminiscent of the old Helen's, the setting isn't. Where Helen's size and decor evoked Europe, the Bohemian's cavernous space (it seats 200) and hewn-log walls shout Western suburban sprawl. The bottom line is that Bohemian's menu outclasses its decor and beer.
The service is a cut above, too. On both visits to the Bohemian, our servers were quick, friendly and knowledgeable enough about the food to make excellent suggestions.
One of their recommendations was chicken with blackberry brandy sauce ($14), a boneless white-meat fillet jacketed in a crisp, golden crust and finished with a light sauce that tasted mostly of fruit, a lovely pairing. The chicken comes with house potatoes, flavored with chives and mashed only to the point that a few small lumps remain, the tell-tale sign that these potatoes were, until recently, whole tubers. They missed perfection by being only a few degrees too cool. The plate also included a vegetable medley that was striking in its quantity: cauliflower, carrots, yellow squash, green beans, onions and peppers.
Diners get a choice of soup or salad with entrees, making this a cost-effective meal. It's a tough choice. The potato cheddar soup is wonderful, as is the French onion, but the house salad is also excellent, a nice blend of greens topped with chopped red and yellow peppers and julienned carrots, all of it dressed with a tangy, roasted walnut vinaigrette.
Schnitzel, made with a choice of either chicken or pork ($13), is another winner. A light but crisp egg batter becomes the perfect foil for a butter/lemon sauce that tastes much like hollandaise but isn't as thick. It comes with mashed potatoes, too, unless diners want the crisp and garlicky house fries.
Bohemian serves up a nicely done halibut fillet, this time crusted with parmesan and horseradish, which gives it a little flavor kick but not much heat ($14). And the bratwurst comes with potatoes and authentic, tangy sauerkraut, an ode to the Bohemian life if ever there was one.
The Petrases named their grill, by the way, after an ancient kingdom that in modern time came to be known as Czechoslovakia. Joe and Helen emigrated from that country to the United States, by way of Paris, in 1980.
Not everything on the menu is European. The garlic burger ($7) is all-American and the ribeye steak with mushroom demiglace ($17) claims no nationality other than "big, fat and juicy." The pasta dishes range from a traditional penne Bolognese ($10) to linguine topped with sliced chicken and sweet peppers and doused with a sauce that blends pilsner beer and lime ($10).
The Bohemian offers pizza, too, with toppings familiar and exotic: pepperoni and sausage, goat cheese and pesto ($8 to $12). Diners can order a menu pie or create their own.
Desserts shouldn't be missed -- where else in Salt Lake can you get a homemade dumpling filled with fresh peaches and blanketed with a snowy sour cream sauce ($6)? Bohemian also serves dessert crepes filled with fruit or chocolate.
Unlike most of its suburban counterparts, the Bohemian Grill is open late -- as in midnight -- every day. That's an attractive feature for people who have a (night) life.
With its European/American pub fusion menu, the Bohemian doesn't conform to our notions of a suburban microbrewery. It's a bohemian setting for some fine Bohemian cuisine.
Bohemian Brewery and Grill
Where: 94 E. Fort Union Blvd., 566-5474
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 4 p.m. to midnight
Prices: Dinner entrees from $7 to $17
Liquor: Full bar, wine list and microbrewed beer
Child's Menu: No
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Outdoor Dining: Yes
Parking: On-site lot
Credit Cards: All major