Fourteen years after opening on Omirou St in Kolonaki, the atmospheric Café Boheme bar-restaurant, with a loyal following amongst a sophisticated Athens’ clientele, reopens in a different location with fresh décor and a new attitude.
Since my mid-’30s and until it closed, within a few months of the pandemic hitting planet earth, Café Boheme was my stomping ground, a hangout where I felt I belonged to a vibe, a tribe, and a lifestyle. It was then a small and super-cosy, dimly lit and polished little place where the DJ and sometimes live acts kept us dancing closely till the wee hours, as we chomped on truffle pizza and sipped great wine. Always beautifully decorated with pink liliums on each table and immaculate seasonal décor for themed parties usually organised by co-owner Cassandra Wagstaffe, with her mother Alison Wagstaffe’s beautiful paintings decorating the walls, it made every one of its customers feel at home.
But its dinky size and lack of outside seating areas made it impossible to keep hold of in the face of a global pandemic, so owner Dimitris Manolakis and his team, including his daughter Maria who helps manage the place, looked for more open horizons. Within a year they got to work on an elegant neoclassical building, formerly the well-known Barbayiannis establishment, to create a new Café Boheme. With high ceilings and colonial-style fans, stone walls, a long glossy bar and a long monastic bench indoors, and tables dotting the wide pedestrian street outside, they’d found the perfect new spot. Almost immediately, new customers came to discover it as much as old clients ran to re-live the Boheme buzz.
And apart from the warm hospitality and pretty décor of the place, most of its current fans visit for the mouth-watering menu, as the place has gone from bar-restaurant to restaurant-bar. Using high-quality Greek ingredients sourced from top producers around the country, the chef prepares sophisticated (but unpretentiously so) and often wholesome, comforting dishes. The culinary style could be described as Mediterranean – with elements of classic Greek, French and Italian above all.
Pizza in various thin-crust renditions remains a star on the menu, but elegantly prepared and flavour-packed fish, meat and plenty of vegetarian dishes keep everyone happy. My go-to favourites and the tastiest, most satiating foods that I highly recommend are: juicy biftekia (beef patties) with truffle-flavoured mashed potatoes, succulent grilled seabass with boiled greens, a salad with melty goat’s cheese and glazed figs, baked aubergine with tomato sauce and crumbled Feta and grilled salmon with grilled vegetables and crunchy baby calamari. If you’re at Café Boheme with kids, and that’s a very good idea because the wide pedestrian street makes for a good play area too, apart from pizza you can also try the crispy potato ‘rocks’ and club sandwich.
With affordable prices, a charming ambiance, professional service, delicious dishes and an accessible location (the nearest metro is Panepistimio), Café Boheme is likely to become one of your favourite haunts too. Here’s to a new era for a hangout with a special character.
A: Emmanouil Benaki 94, Athens
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday- 10 am to 2 am
Main Image Courtesy of Bovary | Panagiotis Malliaris