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March 20, 2012 
Czech, Please

Tonight, Tuesday, March 20 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, The Scene Bisnow’s Singles Schmooze at 901 Bar & Restaurant, 901 9th St. NW. Two hours of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and DC’s most eligible professionals. Sign up!

DC isn't the easiest place to find pierogies or schnitzel. But Prague native Jarek Mika is looking to change that. He's bringing a more modern twist to old world Eastern European classics with his new restaurant Bistro Bohem, which opened in Shaw last week.
Jarek Mika
This is the first restaurant for Jarek, who's background is in banking. When the financial crisis hit, he was a mortgage lender, or in his words, "the person that everybody was mad at." To escape work, he would come home early and cook three-course meals for himself and friends. He also started to take culinary school classes in his free time. Eventually, he left his job to open Bistro Bohem (600 Florida Ave., NW), a small neighborhood restaurant and bar with a lighter, more modern take on traditional Czech peasant food. Jarek was born and raised in Prague and moved to the states 15 years ago to go to college. "One of the reasons I wanted to open up a restaurant was because there really isn't anything based on our part of the world," Jarek says. "There should be a place that can show that Czech Republic is not just about beer or that people in Poland don't eat just potatoes."
Jarek Mika and Mark Reyburn
The menu at Bistro Bohem consists mostly of small plates and a few larger rotating specials. The dishes are simple: cauliflower sauteed with carroway seeds, halusky (a Slovakian gnocchi) with sauerkraut, and garlic soup. Jarek says he initially didn't want to put pierogies on the menu because he didn't think people would eat them. In fact, they've been one of the biggest hits so far with 400 selling out in one night. Mark Reyburn (right), formely of Jaleo, oversees the drink menu, which includes a number of European beers as well as cocktails made with liquors like absinthe and fernet. Jarek also plans to open a European-style coffeehouse called Cafe Bohem in the space next door. The cafe will serve house-made desserts and pastries during the day and convert into extra seating for Bistro Bohem at night. If all goes as planned, it should open in the next 30-60 days.

Wagamama, You're Such a Tease
For nearly three years, London-based noodle shop Wagamama has lay dormant at 418 7th St., NW with signs on the windows promising opening dates that have repeatedly been pushed back. JT O'Neill Company's James O'Neill, the real estate broker who's helping bring Wagamama to DC, tells us the latest projected opening is this fall. Wagamama cites the poor economy abroad and here as reason for the delay. James adds that when it does arrive, Penn Quarter likely won't be the only location. The chain is looking to invest in four or five more spots in and around the DC and Baltimore region. No word yet on possible locations—or when they might arrive.

James Beard Award Finalists Announced
Maria and Fabio Trabocchi
Maria and Fabio Trabocchi's Fiola is among the five nominees for Best New Restaurant in this year's James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the food world. Fabio previously won Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic in 2006 for his work at now-shuttered Maestro in Tysons Corner. Washington area chefs also dominated the category for best Mid-Atlantic chef this year with Restaurant Eve's Cathal Armstrong, Komi's Jonny Monis, Obelisk's Peter Pastan, and Rasika's Vikram Sunderam all up for the award. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York on May 7.

Cava Mezze Grill Expansion
Cava Mezze Grill
Fast casual Greek spot Cava Mezze Grill opened its second location last week in the Tysons Corner Mall. The Chipotle-like eatery, also located in Bethesda Row, is the more casual counterpart to full-service Cava Mezze, located in Capitol Hill, Clarendon, and Rockville. Cava Mezze Grill also announced plans to open up shop in Columbia Heights this summer in the space occupied by Radiance Med Spa (3105 14th St., NW). Locations in Tenleytown and Merrifield, VA are also in the works.

Send restaurant news and story ideas to Dining Editor Jessica Sidmandining@bisnow.com. You can also catch us on Facebook and Twitter!

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