Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden - 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria NY 11102
N/W Train to Astoria Blvd
Despite new competition from the Studio Square Beer Garden, Bohemian is still my favorite, mostly because of its Eastern European heritage and the food they serve. My cousins, brother and I went there recently and despite the rain, we had a blast. I sampled a couple of new things, spotlighting them below:
Halusky (Spaetzle) with Sauerkraut - One of my favorite Slovak dishes, I prefer to eat them with "bryndza" or sheep's milk cheese but they ran out. The sauerkraut version was just as good and the spaetzle were bite sized and quite light. They could sometimes feel too bready and heavy but that wasn't the case. Sprinkling this dish with bacon is traditional and while I liked it, it didn't stand a chance next to the thick-cut bacon at Koliba.
Classic Beef Goulash - This was Matt's choice and I'm so glad that he insisted on it. Served with knedle (bread dumplings), it was incredibly hearty and comforting. I loved how the slow-cooked beef fell apart upon contact--and it was infused with a lovely, pungent beef gravy that seeped into the bread dumplings. Unlike with the halusky, I think that this dish was better done here than in Koliba.
Fried Muenster Cheese - Bringing me back to my childhood when my dad made this for us, I simply devoured it. Sure it looked like an ordinary fried cheese block, but it so wasn't. Gooey on the inside, it had perfect consistency and was really enhanced by the side of tangy tartar sauce. If you aren't entirely brave enough to try Slovak food, get this, as it appeals to an American palate.
Service and Cost:
Notorious for bad service, the Beer Garden has turned things around. We didn't have to beg to be served and our food arrived in about 20 minutes. One thing that's slightly disappointing is that the personnel is no longer all Czech/Slovak. It was nice--and fun--to be able to speak your native tongue there but that's no longer. Oh well.
While costs go up each year, it's still a very affordable establishment, setting us back about $76 total for 5 entrees and some sides.