Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden - 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria NY 11102
N/W Train to Astoria Blvd
The Beer Garden is one of my favorite places to visit in the summer. I know that I'm not alone here, as thousands of people both from Queens and Manhattan hit this place up on weekends--seems like everyone has caught the Beer Garden fever. I learned my lesson from previous frustrating weekend visits and I now only come here on Sundays, when I could actually score a seat. This past Sunday was fun because I was accompanied by my family, good friends Kimberly, Kim & Ken, Ivona & Joe--and of course Dan. We nearly wore out our welcome, staying for nearly five hours, during which much great food and drink were consumed. Below is a summary of our Sunday night gorge fest.
Klobasa (Grilled Kielbasa) - We ordered this as a starter from the grill and although they're large, we got two servings just to be on the safe side. This proved to be a wise decision because we devoured them within minutes, as each piece was juicy and tangy from the grain mustard that we used as dipping sauce. The sausage skin was firm and crunchy--a nice contract with the tender, succulent interior. YUM! Our dining companions agreed that this was a stand-out.
Vepro Knedlo Zelo (Pork with Sauerkraut and Dumplings) - This is my dad's favorite dish and he always orders it when we come here (or any Slovak restaurant for that matter). He really wanted to show our friends how it's done in Slovakia so we ordered three huge portions which seemed absolutely bottomless. I had my fair share and loved it--as always. While it sounds ironic, the sauerkraut was actually sweet and the pork was beautifully tender and moistened by a rich pork gravy. The gravy really made this dish and added flavor to the already moist "knedle" or dumplings. Not only was this tasty but the portions were so large that you got amazing value for your buck.
Segedinsky Gulas (Szegediner goulash and dumplings) - This was even better than the Vepro pork, probably because it was prepared in a cream sauce--why does all the bad stuff taste like heaven? The meat was so wonderfully tender that it fell apart upon contact with the fork. This dish too was served with sauerkraut that was sweet and seasoned with paprika--one of my favorite spices. I'd recommend this for first timers.
Pirohi (Potato Pirogies with Red Cabbage and Sour Cream) - This is a good alternative for vegetarians. My reason for wanting it was for the red cabbage, which is even sweeter that the sauerkraut. Honestly speaking, the dumplings were a little weak--really nothing special and probably just frozen ones that were boiled. While they tasted fine, I wasn't crazy about them but I did adore the sweet--almost candy-like--cabbage. Next time, I'll skip the pirogies and just order a side of red cabbage.
Bramborove Placky (Potato Pancakes with Sour Cream and Apple Sauce) - I've had this dish many times and while it's usually crispy and delicious, it was on the soggy-hard side. How disappointing and anti-climactic! It might've been my fault for reaching for them late in the meal but they just didn't taste right.
Palacinky (Thin Pancakes with Strawberry Jam and Whipped Cream) - These are very different than some of the crepes you'll find in Astoria--the dough is airy and a lot thinner. While I liked them, I thought they were drenched too heavily in whipped cream and chocolate sauce which melted messily, thus creating a sloppy mess. Not pretty to look at and just mediocre to eat. Meh all around.
Service and Cost:
The service as always is a joke. You have to chase down a waitress and practically beg her to serve you, which I did. And quite nicely might I add--I approached her in Slovak and said all my pleases and thank yous. It worked and the food came quickly too.
For the obscene amount of food that I mentioned above, the check was just a little over $110. This fed a total of 7 people, which is really quite the bargain. The beer was another story at $14 a pitcher but they have to make their money somehow. Overall, a fun time was had by all and our bellies protruded nicely towards the end of the night (at least mine did). Mmmm it was so worth it!