Restaurant Review: Hidden downtown dining room has a historic appeal
There’s a warm, regal-looking dining room tucked away out of plain sight in downtown Detroit.
Bohemia is serving an on-trend, chef-driven and fun upscale menu on the third floor of the 130-year-old Detroit Club in an ornate dining room, but you kind of have to know it's there as there is no exterior signage or major clues that the restaurant is open to the public.
It is, though — at least for now, that could change in a year or two says Detroit Club president Lynn Uralli — and anyone is welcome to make a reservation for dinner four nights a week in the historic space.
Non-members are also welcome to have a drink in the cigar bar on the other end of the hall from Bohemia or on the first floor in the majestic Library bar. All three rooms are stunning and offer an ambiance that you don't see a lot in newer downtown restaurants. This is an impressive destination for a romantic date, especially if your companion is a history buff.
The cuisine at Bohemia, which opened earlier this year, recently switched to a fall/winter menu featuring a greater focus on meat cuts, such as a pork tomahawk and boneless ribeye.
It's the kind of room that calls for a steak dinner, with its candlelit fireplace, sturdy and velvet-trimmed chairs, some faux greenery and high, decorative ceilings. A few chandeliers offer low light, enough to notice the details of the mahogany wood trim, elaborate wallpaper and framed art, which is a mix of classic styles and some modern pieces by Detroit artist Tony Roko.
The new menu has a better selection of vegetarian and vegan offerings than the previous iteration. In addition to a trio of salads and vegetable sides, there’s a vegan mushroom and cashew orecchiette entrée flavored with salted mushroom broth, cashew miso butter and shaved cashews. Look for the seasonal cold roasted squash decked with hot apple honey, sesame seeds and a egg yolk furikake (a Japanese seasoning).
Chef Bobby Rosenberger has smartly carried over the Nashville hot chicken to the fall menu. It’s a filling dish of half of a chicken brined and coated in a crunchy, honey-sweet breading that is like candy. Served with well-executed crispy smashed potatoes, dill pickle slices and a square of cornbread, the tender chicken has a good amount of spice and a ton of flavor, but it's still at about a medium, heat wise.
Also very good is the brie brûlée, served piping hot in a tiny cast iron tray with honey and walnuts and a croissant from excellent nearby pastry shop Cannelle. Another standout is the tartare of filet mignon, which was great on its own but was taken up a notch with sweet tomato toffees and a tomato aioli.
I'm noticing more that restaurants are starting to charge for items that were once often free, like bread baskets, and that's the case here, too. For $10 you get a small bowl of green Castelvetrano olives and an assortment of toasted bread, crusty loaf slices and thin breadsticks. The best is the honeycomb butter, which is melty, sweet and rich. The honeycomb butter can also be ordered as a side along with some other spreads and sauces, like a chimichurri or feta mousse.
The drink list does not overwhelm, with five solid craft cocktail choices, a mix of local, domestic and imported beers and a large, easy-to-read wine list that offers selections by the glass or bottle.
In spite of the stately surroundings, the service style at Bohemia is casual but still attentive. Our server was honest and helpful in answering our questions about the menu.
Bohemia — not to be confused with a forthcoming Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Royal Oak with the same name — is an upgrade, I believe, from the former dining situation at the Detroit Club, the Grille Room. That was located on main floor when the club reopened after renovations in early 2018. While the Grille Room is also a majestic space (now open only to members), Bohemia's modern menu and intriguing setting is a more interesting attraction for dinner.
Inside the Detroit Club
712 Cass, Detroit
(313) 338-3222 thedetroitclub.com/bohemia
Rating: ★★ (very good)
Hours: 5-11 p.m. Wed.-Sat.
Prices: Starters and salads $10-$18; entrees $22-$68; sides $8-$12; dessert $14; cocktails $12-$15; beer $5-$8; wine by the glass $9-$17; by the bottle $25-$350.
Reservations: Strongly suggested and available on the website
Outdoor dining: Closed for the season
Noise level: Low
Accessibility: Front entrance has stairs, accessible entrance in back.
Parking: Valet, nearby metered street parking
Dress code: Business casual is expected. Specifically, "sneakers, work boots, ripped jeans, hoodies, baseball caps, and other recreational attire is not allowed," according to the website.