You may have had the same reaction I did when I first looked over the list of participating restaurants and saw the one for Bohemian Bar and Grill: Where the heck is that?
It didn’t help that it was in the “Surrounding Area” category, a handful of restaurants that don’t fit handily into Visit Orlando’s designated districts.
And now that I’ve been to the Bohemian Bar and Grill, I’m still not entirely sure where the heck it is.
It turns out that it is at the Bohemian Hotel Celebration, a sister hotel (or maybe it’s a brother; I always have trouble determining the sex of lodging) to the Grand Bohemian in downtown Orlando. Of course the restaurant there is called the Boheme, and you find it by walking through the bar and under the piano rotunda to the ornately designed dining room.
Step inside the front door of the Celebration hotel and you’re in the lobby, and, apparently, also in the dining room. A bar is off the the side and there are several tables with glasses and flatware, the sort of setting that I, as a trained observer, immediately recognize as places to eat.
There is a host stand immediately inside the door, but it was hostless when I arrived. Granted I was dining quite early, not because I’m practicing for old age but rather I had finished a nearby meeting sooner than expected and figured I might as well have dinner. There was a bartender and at least one cocktail server within sight, but no one approached. At one point a woman who appeared to be in hotel management strode by, thanked me for being there, and then kept going. She had her purse under her arm, so I’m guessing it was quitting time. After another couple of minutes with no other acknowledgement, a man who appeared to be a chef (cook’s tunic; another thing you learn to spot in this business) and asked if I had been helped. I said I was looking for the restaurant, and he assured me I had arrived there. He called the server I had spotted earlier over to seat me and we were on our way. I guess dinner wouldn’t be so early after all.
Although there was a Magical Dining Month card at the host stand, the special menu wasn’t offered to me until I requested it. From the list of options I chose the alligator sausage, the short rib entree and Key lime pie for dessert.
The sausage was really quite good, and if it were available as an entree I would have gladly made it my main course. The texture was surprisingly smooth, almost like a boudin, and there were several nice spice notes. It seems to me that making sausage is one of the best uses for gator meat, which can be a little tough. (That’s no surprise, just look at an alligator; no one expects veal-like tenderness from one of those beasts.) The grinding of the meat into sausage acts as a tenderizer.
The sausage was served with a watercress salad that had wonderful bitter notes and a sour-orange tomato vinaigrette.
Tangerine was the citrus incorporated into the braised short ribs dish. There were four good sized hunks of meat, off the bone, served atop a plop of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with bits of shallots blended in. In between the two was a layer of haricot vert, which looked like green beans to me.
The pie was nicely done. It had a pale yellow hue and a creamy filling on the graham cracker crust. I would have preferred a bit more tartness in the taste, but it was good nonetheless.
Besides the lobby tables, which are fashioned out of tree bark under glass tops, there are tables on the open and covered patio, which has a water view.
Even after I had been acknowledged and seated, things did not move apace. There were long waits between courses, even though I appeared to be among only a few diners, most of whom I’m pleased to report were much older than I. By the way, the restaurant is tacking an automatic 20 percent tip onto Magical Dining Month meals, but the server made it clear when she brought my check.
The Bohemian Bar and Grill is at 700 Bloom St., Celebration. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily; the Magical Dining Month menu is available at dinner only during the month of September. The phone number is 407-566-6000.