The Boheme

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BohemeAt first I was slightly annoyed at the Boheme. The upscale restaurant, one of the few remaining fine-dining choices in the city, let alone downtown, is participating in Orlando Magical Dining Month, so I jumped at the chance to pay a revisit. The great thing about MagDinMo is that it offers a three-course menu (with restricted choice, of course) for $30. When you’re talking about a restaurant like the Boheme, you’re in the plus column practically before the entree is served.

That is, if, as is the case with many of the participating restaurants, the portions are the same whether you order from the regular menu or from the September special. At the Boheme, the appetizers were noticeably smaller for those of us who had ordered the Magical Dining special than a guest who had selected to order a “regular” appetizer. So there was only a single crab cake, rather than two, on a friend’s plate, and two slices of fried green tomato on mine instead of the usual four. But that said, the serving of fried green tomatoes was, for me, just the right size. And it was delicious, too. The tangy tomatoes had a perfect crisp jacket and were dotted with dollops of goat cheese with a bit of creamy smoked jalapeno sauce for a spicy note.

One small crab cake is rarely enough, but it, too was a nice starter, served with piquant arugula and basil oil. We had also shared the Bohemian plate, an antipasto platter of sorts with salami, prosciutto and cheeses, including grilled brie, served with fresh breads. it was a wonderful platter and would have been starter enough. (None of us could figure out why such a large plop of whole grain mustard was on the plate -- even the salami wasn’t the sort that would benefit from the strong condiment, and certainly not the prosciutto.)

While the appetizers from the Magical menu were sub-sized, the entrees appeared to be normal. One of my guests had the New York strip, a fine slab of meat grilled to a nice medium-rare, graced with a spicy peppercorn sauce and accompanied by mashed potatoes and green beans. I had the salmon, oven roasted with a crust of crushed cashews, with more mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach.

The risotto, a vegetarian option, would probably disappoint a risotto purist, but I liked the extra pecorino cheese that gave it a good gooiness. And the tomato, pea coulis and vodka cream sauce all came together in a melange of complementary flavors.

Dessert had all of us at the table oohing and gooing over the cheesecake, which was fashioned with mascarpone cream cheese and topped with some of the best blueberries any of us had tasted in a while. The apple pie was good, too, with lots of sweet-tangy slices sprinkled with cinnamon and accompanied by a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream.

Service was professional and accommodating. The Boheme’s wine list has a fine range of wines to accompany the dishes, and the staff was eager to please with samples from the by-the-glass selections.

The dining room is sufficiently upscale and posh. High booth backs lend an air of privacy, and soft lighting adds romance, if romance is what you want. Enhancing the atmosphere is the music that wafts in from the rotunda where the grand Bosendorfer piano is the center of attention. (I recommend checking the Boheme’s Web site for when Wes Hamrick is playing. And if it’s also a night when Ivy, bartender extraordinaire, is in command of the expansive bar, you pretty much have a perfect evening.)

And here’s something you should know: if you’re having dinner at the Boheme -- or if you’re just having drinks in the lounge and enjoying the music -- valet parking is complimentary. The parking staff, like all the employees of the Grand Bohemian, provide exemplary hospitality, sprinting ahead to open doors for guests. One truly does feel grand here. Ultimately, I left feeling that the Orlando Magical Dining deal was a good one. But I would gladly pay full price for the Boheme experience.

The Boheme is inside the Grand Bohemian Hotel, 325 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It’s open for breakfast daily, lunch Monday-Saturday, brunch on Sunday, and dinner daily. This link will take you to the Boheme’s listing at Orlando Magical Dining, and click this one to go to the Grand Bohemian’s Web site. To download the restaurant’s regular menu , click this one. The phone number is 407-313-9000.