Czech Republic: A Hot Summer Night

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As summer in DC sweltered on, Matt and I got a rare treat on a Tuesday night. He was off work before 11PM and there was a band playing at the Black Cat that we wanted to see. We decided to make a whole night of it and check out a Czech restaurant before the show.

I’ve passed Bistro Bohem on Florida Ave in the Shaw neighborhood at least a 100 times. I’d often wondered about it but never thought to check it out until Matt mentioned they had authentic Czech food. Matt dropped me off so I could make our reservation and he could go find parking.

I sat down and perused the drink and appetizer menu for a bit while I waited. After about 15 minutes of waiting (parking in DC is tricky sometimes) my patience waned and the heat over came me. I needed a cocktail. Did I mention it’s been a long, hot summer in DC?

The Czech 75, Becherovka C and sparkling wine, sounded like it would help cool me down. I didn’t actually know what becherovka was until Matt mentioned it’s traditionally an after dinner drink. But it taste great with sparkling wine, it had a bit of a cinnamon aftertaste. I’m not sure if it cooled me off or just made me tipsy enough to not care about the heat anymore.

Matt ordered a Czech beer, Kusovice Inperial, he said it tasted like the Miller Lite of the Czech Republic. Or maybe that was some other beer from some other restaurant, he says that a lot…

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Since we were both starving, I thought I would order an appetizer in the hopes that it would arrives at the table around the same time Matt did. That was wishful thinking, but when I appetizer did arrive, it was delicious. I ordered a dish called rarasek. Here’s the description from their menu: chicken breast tenders wrapped in marjoram seasoned potato pancakes served with aiolli. This description does not do this dish justice. The chicken tenders were lightly fried in a crispy potato crust which gave them a light flavor that didn’t sit heavily on this warm summer night.

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For my main course, I went the safe route (and maybe the too fried route) and ordered chicken schnitzel. It was made in a classic style with capers and a lemon sauce. I didn’t want to get another fried food with dinner, but our server recommended the frites as a side and I can’t turn down a good fry. The schnitzel wasn’t remarkable but the fries were delicious!

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Matt ordered something a little more outside of the box: Kneplo, Vepro, Zelo. This is considered the Czech national dish. Slow roasted pork is served with sauerkraut, red cabbage and bread dumplings. The pork was deliciously tender and well-spiced with unique flavors. The least enjoyed part of the plate was the bread dumplings. We likely did not eat them correctly because I’m sure soaked in the meat sauce, the bread dumplings would have been great. But we didn’t, we sort of just tried the bread on its own and were unimpressed with the lack of taste and texture.

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Finally, after dinner we enjoyed a Czech specialty, an herbal liqueur digestif: Becherovka. Since I already tasted this in my cocktail earlier in the evening, I wasn’t surprised that this drink had notes of cinnamon or some similar spice that gave it a nice kick. Matt thought it was delicious too.

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After we wrapped up dinner, we headed over to the Black Cat to enjoy Sonny and the Sunsets. They’re a band we came to know through Matt’s Christmas present, a vinyl record of the month club. We both really enjoy their vinyl but they we’re just OK live. It was great to get out to a show at the Black Cat but we headed home happy and full around 11PM.

-Bridget

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