THIS IS A REVIEW:
The New Bohemian (subtitled "Local Restaurant and Social Lounge", I guess as opposed to restaurants that require out-of-province ID at the door and bars which cater to agoraphobics) sent me a card in the mail for $10 off. This is a good way to get me to try your restaurant because I am a sucker for coupons and sales. So, Gordon and I tripped over there.
The atmosphere is similar to a lot of recently opened high-end casual restaurants: lots of muted lighting and warm colors, hip music, couches for VIPs and their posses to crowd around, and at least one piece of bizarre decoration. In this case it's that "icon" sign you see to the right of the bar. What does it mean? Who knows?
Our waitress fit the scene to a T, with her stylish outfit that could have fit in perfectly at a club. She was friendly and gave me the frank advice that I had better not have the soup, because not many people order it during the summer so it's not as good. A quibble: we had to ask what the specials were, then we had to ask about drink specials, and finally I had to ask what the soup was (spurring her advice). Overall though she was excellent.
Drinks first. Gordon ordered the Bohemian Lager on tap, and I ordered a gin and tonic. Despite being a drink special, my gin and tonic didn't skimp on the gin. With my meal, I ordered a caipirinha, because I had never tasted cachaça before. Interestingly enough, although Gordon and I are often bitterly opposed on cocktails (he likes vodka, I like gin) we both really liked the caipirinha. COULD THIS DRINK BRING ABOUT WORLD PEACE? Possibly. We'll have to get a bourbon partisan and a scotch supporter to taste it, then we'll see.
For an appetizer, we ordered the 1/2 pound mussels and frites ($9), because Gordon had never tried mussels. We picked the leek and chardonnay sauce option for the mussels. I think the subtlety of the sauce was the perfect way to let the plump mussels shine. The frites were sprinkled with kosher salt, and although they were served with ketchup, we dipped them into the mussel sauce.
We had long debates about what to order for our meals. The New Bohemian uses organic meat and Ocean Wise seafood, "Ocean Wise" meaning that the Vancouver Aquarium approved of it in some fashion. After a number of rounds of "Well if you get that then I could get this, but if you get this I'll get this other thing," we decided on the grilled wild salmon sandwich for him ($14, plus $1.25 for yam frites instead of potato frites) and the slow-braised organic lamb shank for me ($20). Gordon asked for no tomatoes. Well, I asked. He didn't want to make a fuss. LOL.
His sandwich was great: two thick pieces of salmon steak with a splash of lemon aioli and some greens, served on a warm and crunchy ciabatta. And served with a truly enormous bowl of yam frites, with a curry mayo to dip them in. I don't know what's up with Vancouver and yam frites, but I can get behind it.
As soon as my plate got to me, I just sat and inhaled for about a minute, it smelled so good. The lamb was fork-tender and covered with a tangy tomato puree. The angelhair pasta's truffle cream sauce was low-key, yet it held its own against the strong flavors of the meat. I would have liked a few more veggies, but that's partly because the ones that were there were so tasty. :3
Gordon was still slightly hungry after we finished our main courses. We debated getting another food item or dessert, and finally decided to split a vanilla bean cheesecake ($6.50) and two signature coffees.
I was a little sad for our dessert. Real vanilla bean is such a lovely flavor. There was absolutely no need to smother the poor little vanilla bean cheesecake with raspberry and caramel sauces, not to mention the assertive flavor of graham cracker crust. I don't think that caramel and raspberry go together that well in the first place. The bites I enjoyed the most were the ones I got with only cheesecake on my fork. However, this might be another case of YMMV. Gordon remarked on how great the raspberry sauce was, and he used his fork to scrape up caramel and raspberry sauce when the cheesecake was gone.
Gordon told me his verdict was that this was a good place to impress a date. ^_^ He didn't really need to impress me, but I agree that this is a fun date place. I think it's especially a good place to try something new, either libations-wise or food-wise, but their more conventional offerings will please the hidebound. It's not a cheap place if you're drinking--our bill was about $86 (including tax, not including tip, not including our coupon). If you need a place to unwind after flipping another downtown condo, you could eat here regularly. The rest of us can have it as a special occasion. :)
I should also note that The New Bohemian is open nightly until 2am, and it advertises that its kitchen is open "late". How late is late, I don't know, but Vancouver's cardinal flaw in my eyes is that even restaurants are mostly closed by 10. I'm the kind of person who thinks life doesn't even begin until then. So if you're looking for something late night, this might be a place to try.
THIS IS A SUMMARY:
Name: The New Bohemian
Location: 3162 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC 604.736.7576 (reservations recommended on Fridays and Saturdays)
Prices: $15-25/person for food, beers $4-7, cocktails $5-10, wines by the bottle $27 and up, wines by the glass $6.75-12.50
Service: The waiters may be cooler than you, but they won't be snooty. Attentive, friendly, and prompt. Food and drinks came out quickly. Restroom clean, but it looked like it was not wheelchair friendly (the toilet blocks the path to the sink).
Food: Contemporary Western fare done excellently with fresh, often organic ingredients. An inventive and skilled bartender offers old standbys and many intriguing new combinations, with champagne cocktails a specialty.
Recommended?: A special occasion and a wish for experimentation? Look no further.