People seem quite passionate about Boem, a post-Yugoslavian restaurant and sometimes dance club in Irving Park. While the restaurant diplomatically declines to self-identify as Serbian, Bosnian or Croatian (and why should they, since they’re all the same cuisine), its supporters and detractors are more than happy to weigh in, with nasty results.
Early on, the comments were downright civil! User “Dre” left a review entitled “Authenticity benchmark” way back in March of last year:
If you want to try Bosnian and Serbian food at its best, Boem is the place. I am Croatian, I know how the food should taste, and Boem is very close to the benchmark. Expect large portions with a lot of meat - whether it is Bosnian national proud - cevapcici, or Serbian vjesalica (hanger), you won’t leave hungry. The service is average but not bad. If the party is large enough, sometimes you may get a round of drinks on house (another Serbian custom). One thing that could be better is bread - it is often old, but you can easily go around this issue by simply skipping it.
The most controversial statement in this review is about the bread. By New Year’s Eve, things had fallen apart completely, according to “thomas” who had “the worst experience ever” (ethnic groups redacted from here on):
Food in this restaurant had really bad smell, it was probably reheated, prepared ten or more days ago. Worst thing: I was almost attacked by some drunk [REDCATED] or [REDACTED] ( i’m not shure what kind of extremist that was ). It is strongly recommended not to go even close to that place which is dangerous for your health ad safety, too.
Eep! A foreshadow of things to come. The next review, which was left one day later by “Ivana,” swings back to the positive:
I went to Boem on Saturday and Sunday night and it was packed! Food was excellent but bread was old and stale! I suggest trying cevapi instrad of pljeskavice! Live music is another plus, Osvajaci and Maja def make Boem worth going!
Man, that bread must be ghastly! A few days after that we got a review entitled “BAD”:
We’re really glad people put time and effort into this stuff. Actually, the next person was certainly inspired to prose, since she left two reviews over three days. The first was simply angry:
Boem is a hole. The music is way too loud for a small place like that and it’s terrible. These people don’t know how to sing or play music. The actual place is stuffy and stinks. You’d want to eat here if you’re crazy. I have went to Boem numerous times and hardly seen anyone eating. Once I happened to see the cook/server/waitress/owner (this women does it all) prepare a meal and the whole resturant was filled with an oily smell that smoked up the whole room. When we left, we all smelled as if we were in the kitchen. The ladies room is soooooo filty and nasty. It is the size of my closet. Hope you read this carefully and beware- only boem if u dare.
…but it took until the second one to become vindictive and personal:
Boem is absolutely disgusting. We have some farmer looking waitresses that don’t speak English and don’t understand what you’re ordering. Boem has a bar half the size of the place, but absolutely no drinks. You ask them for a simple Martini and they don’t know what it is. Probably because those waitresses were taking care of cows in [REDACTED] right before trying to serve customers. The owners are a bunch of losers that don’t know how to run a business. All they do is sit, relax, and watch all these sluts shake their dirty asses on the crusty dance floor. The owners daughter thinks she knows what she’s doing and tries to be little ms. perfect. if she was so perfect, she would be home taking care of her kids instead of bringing them to the bar/resturant to watch all of this nasty stuff, inhaling the gross smoke and eating the rotten food. Boem needs to be inspected and closed up. These people are foreigners that don’t know what they’re doing.
This reviewer kind of sounds like a stuck-up little [REDCATED] with an unwarranted vendetta against the family that runs Boem. But we digress! The most recent review came in over the weekend, and it tries valiantly to set the record straight:
I was at Boem last night with a couple of friends and found the atmosphere electric. Live dance music. People standing and singing along. Very warm environment. Yes, it is loud but I do not know of any place with live music that is not, especially this small. The service was slow because of lack of wait staff but people were mainly there for the music not food. This is a great place to bring a group of friends to enjoy live ethnic music and food. It is an ethnic environment so someone who has a small spectrum on the world may not appreciate it.
Yes. Everyone should expand their spectrum on the world! Maybe not at Boem (although we say, go for it!), but somehow, somewhere. And keep your personal squabbles and civil wars off MenuPages, okay?
[Photo: an…item that Boem serves, from their website]