Smörgåsbord – The Bohemian Gastropub

The word “bohemian” and Queen West have gone hand in hand for decades. From the original Bohemian Embassy in the 1960s (an artsy coffeehouse that was a launchpad for artists such as Margaret Atwood, Gordon Lightfoot and Lorne Michaels) to the various groups of artists, musicians, goths, punks and others who have frequented Queen West over the years (we’ll pointedly ignore the condo project at Queen & Gladstone with the same name, which is a sad riff on previous subcultures and is pretty much the antithesis of anything even remotely bohemian within the current definition of the word), it’s safe to say that Queen Street is where you’d find any bohemians in Toronto.

The recently-opened Bohemian Gastropub (571 Queen Street West), however, is not meant to reference the downtown sub-cultures, but is both a play on owner Paul Boehmer’s name and the actual region of Bohemia, part of the current Czech Republic, bordering on Germany. So a Bohemian Gastropub has hearty Eastern European food with influences of Germany, Poland and Austria.

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That Day

Torontonians are like hibernating groundhogs. All winter, we stay holed up in our burrows, occasionally sticking our noses out for a sniff. Then, on the first nice day, that one day where it’s possible to believe that yes, spring will indeed come, we emerge en masse to frolic.

Queen Street West was packed solid yesterday – like the business district at 5pm when the office workers emerge and flow to Union Station to get their trains back to the ‘burbs. We walked home from Queen and Bathurst, and on the sunny north side of the street, the sidewalk was at a crawl, so packed with people still bound by dirty snowbanks that passing the slowpokes was all but impossible.

Hipsters, dog walking, stroller pushing, cellphone talking,  adult coffee-sippy-cup drinking, trendy rubber boots and cute scarf-wearing… they were all represented. The frantic energy of a glorious day and the sight of the sun was palpable. I almost expected everyone to stop, face south and throw open their coats to warm their bellies like meercats.

As we trekked through the puddles, the dry rotting snowbanks turning into piles of dirt and cigarette butts, it felt good to share the collective brain; to get out and soak up some sun after a long arduous winter, to celebrate “that day” with a promenade along the sidewalk.