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The Boheme

BohemeFor opening night of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, I chose to take advantage of the deal at the Boheme, the restaurant at the Grand Bohemian luxury hotel in downtown Orlando. The dining room had undergone a major renovation several months ago, and I was anxious to give it a try.

I had never been much of a fan of the restaurant’s original decor. It was elegant enough,  which was what the hotelier was going for originally, but the booth backs and chairs were so high that they hindered the view. That was fine for people wanting privacy but annoying to busybodies like me who want to see who’s dining with whom.

The new decor opens the sight-lines more, but I can’t imagine what the designer was going for with this look. Red is the dominant color and splashes door, chairs, napkins and candle holds. Red is also the color of the string “curtains” that act as see-through room dividers. These ceiling-to-floor hanging remind me of the sort of thing you’d find in a college dormitory that has been decorated with items found at Pier 1 Imports. Marble tabletops give the room an overall cold feel and lend the dining room a look similar to an upscale ice cream shop.

But the food I had was very good. I started with the Kessler calamari, a dish I’ve enjoyed in the past. This time is wasn’t quite as crisply fried, but I enjoyed the flavors of sweet tomatoes and tangy olives with the squid.

For my entree I selected the jumbo lump crab cakes. They were big, plump cakes filled with sweet meat and very little filler, pan-seared so the outside had a nice crisp. They were served with wilted spinach, sweet corn and whipped potatoes. I found the potatoes to be a bit too heavy with the crab, but my dining companion liked them just fine.

My friend went off the Magical menu and had the fried green tomatoes, four firm slices, breaded and fried and topped with chunky bits of tangy goat cheese. nicely done. We also shared sides of creamy mac and cheese and deliciously rich truffled fries.

For my dessert I selected the mascarpone cream cheese cake, which had a perfect crumbly texture and was topped with sweet blueberries.

Service was, as it always has been, top notch. And the staff includes at least one incredibly honest person who turned in a very expensive piece of equipment that had been left behind. Thank you!

I think with the new decor, the Kessler hotel was trying to deemphasize luxury. It worked. But I’m not sure what it is trying to accentuate. The food here is good, certainly worth your attention, whether it’s during Magical Dining Month or not. Anyone looking for a nice place to dine in downtown Orlando should consider the Boheme. And by the way, valet parking is complimentary for anyone dining at the restaurant. That makes it an even better downtown destination.

The Boheme (pronounce it boh-HEEM, not like the Puccini opera) is at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, 325 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The Magical Dining Month menu, three courses for $30, is available only during dinner during the month of September. By the way, I had to ask for the Magical Dining Month menu -- it was not offered voluntarily. Here is a link to the Boheme’s website. The phone number is 407-313-9000.

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