The New Bohemian

March 25th, 2008 · 18 Comments

newbohemian.extThe New Bohemian
(604) 736-7576
Address: 3162 West Broadway (map)

A First Look at The New Bohemian
a Quick Bite

By Jason
Eat Vancouver writer

First, a brief disclaimer: I visited The New Bohemian on its opening night, a night when no restaurant should be judged at any level of discrimination (would you like to be rated on your first day of work?). In fact, one could argue that it’s pointless to attempt a serious review during a restaurant’s first two weeks of service, a task that should be reserved for amateurs and The Globe and Mail. Being neither, I will attempt a modified quick bite, in which I will comment more on the overall concept of The New Bohemian in order to focus on the aspects that should remain relatively stable.

The way I look at it, there are two basic approaches Vancouver restaurateurs have been following lately. One is to take a simple concept do it to the nines, a style exemplified by popular eateries like Salt and Pied-a-Terre. The other is to take a complicated concept and do it to the nines, such as The Transcontinental and Yew. While both can be quite happy and enjoyable restaurant experiences, I take a certain joy in the parsimony of the simple done sublimely. I also like knowing why I’m going to a restaurant, be it for a certain dish, a certain style, or even a certain feeling. Or in other words, when a restaurant is everything to everybody, it can often be nothing to me.

Unfortunately, the concept of New Bohemian falls into the latter category, with a fair amount of effort evident, but no clear sense of what kind of restaurant or lounge it is.

The New Bohemian took over the old Fiction space, and in general, not a lot changed. The decor is updated and is a step up, but vestiges from the old regime seem out of place in the newly designed restaurant. For instance, I love the sexy red light fixtures and the design of the bar, but why did they keep the LCD projector playing old movies? This feature made sense at a restaurant called Fiction, but seems out of place in the new restaurant. It also bothered me that they kept the same drink list – why not man up and design your own wine and cocktail list? Eliminating the dividing wall between the bar and lounge area, however, was a good call; it opens up the room and allows diners to get a full view of the space.

newbohemian.tenderloinThe menu is equally as confused, a few of the items lining up with the restaurant’s mantra of organic and seasonal, the rest a complete stretch(i.e., tomato and bocconcini salad). Appetizers range from about $6-$12 and span the range of typical bar delights, a section on the menu that is followed by a “for sharing” section that includes just steak tacos and seafood risotto. This reviewer was left wondering why seafood risotto is any more sharable than any of other typical bar appetizers they offered. Other sections include: mussels, pizzas, pasta, and entrees. So basically, whatever is trendy right now, or easily executed. I tried the seafood risotto, which was fine, and pork tenderloin over quinoa with a spicy pineapple chutney. The tenderloin was perfectly cooked but underspiced and the pineapple chutney had a nice heat and served its purpose of enhancing the dish. I wish I could say the same for the quinoa, which was plentiful but not all that interesting.

As a whole, I was impressed that the New Bohemian was executing at a high level of service on just its first night open to the public. The food was also executed about as perfectly as the concept would allow. That qualification, however, is a big one – I just don’t think that this restaurant’s concept allows for much room to grow. It just doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. That’s not to say I don’t think the restaurant will succeed considering that area of Broadway close to Point Grey is subject to a dearth of casual restaurants of Bohemian’s ilk. Still, New Bohemian has potential and mediocrity need not be endured. As a quick troubleshoot, I’d say scratch the mussel and pizza sections of the menu and work on the pasta sections, offering a variety of hand-made carefully thought out pasta dishes. Turn the appetizers into Italian street foods designed for sharing, and redo the drink menu to focus on Italian wines and cocktails inspired by Italian liquors. Now that’s a restaurant concept, free of charge.

The New Bohemian on Urbanspoon

Tags: Modern Canadian · Pub fare · Quick Bites · Wine

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 chowman // Mar 26, 2008 at 8:34 am


    Yet another literate and informative review. Very fair to limit yourself to the concept. You make a very good point about the risotto.

    I enjoy reading your restaurant assessments.


  • 2 | Vancouver Restaurant Scene Magazine » Dogpile on Fraiche // Mar 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    […] blog land, Jason Chin of slams The New Bohemian, while  “Anna” of Beyond Robson goes the other way. Pity her […]

  • 3 roger evason // Mar 27, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I’m sorry, can’t really figure out what you’re trying to say here.

    It seems you enjoyed everything but you had issue with the business owner’s overall vision? This reads like someone who desperately wants to play restauranteur, without any of the nuts to do anything but play armchair quarterback.

    What should your vision of what the restaurant be have anything to do with a review. What would be helpful is if you gave the reader some insight into what it is, as opposed to what you wanted it to be. That way we can figure out if we might like to try it.

    I’ll accept bias, opinion and a critical eye in a review, but this doesn’t tell me if the cooking’s good, what style of decor, the music, anything that I want to know about this place. Find another category to put this type of article in, because it sure isn’t a review.

  • 4 Jason // Mar 27, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    hey, those who can, open restaurants; those who can’t, write.

    anyhow, i think you should reread it because: a) it wasn’t a review, but in fact a modified quick bite. and b) i did comment on the things you asked about (food, decor, etc).

    finally, i played armchair restauranteur for 2 sentences at the end – hardly a fair summary of the piece’s entirety. i don’t like the concept, the drink menu the actual same document as the last place, and the menu isn’t very creative. i agree, it could be well executed, but that’s a comment for another time (hence my paragraph long disclaimer).

  • 5 kathy webster // Mar 27, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    After reading your bashings of the New Bohemian I felt compelled to write a comment.

    I frequented Fiction regularly as a Kits resident, and was familiar with most aspects of both the food and drink menus, as well as the decor and general ambience.

    I have been down to the New Bohemian a number of times, and have been pleasantly surprised with the change. The wine and cocktail list has indeed changed quite dramatically, as has the general appearance of the room. I found it quite laughable that the two details of the room that you commented on as new additions, the light fixtures and the bar, were there before the renovation. You omitted the fact that the dividing wall which always made Fiction feel like two different spaces has been removed to create a completely different feeling space that I think Kitsilano has been waiting for.

    It’s a great place to have a couple of drinks and eat some good food.

    Give them some love, as clearly others have as it’s been packed every night I’ve been down. That’s worth a lot more than some words from an ‘armchair quarterback’.

  • 6 Jason // Mar 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Kathy,

    Thanks for pointing out my typo in reference to the lighting. But it was a just a typo, and I’m not sure I’d call it laughable. As most readers probably saw, I was listing vestiges (what was left over) from the previous restaurant in speaking of the lighting and bar that still work. That’s why I then mentioned the projector, which no longer fits.

    Anyway, I don’t know why everyone thinks I’m bashing this place. I didn’t say it was horrible, just confused.

    and this comment, “Give them some love, as clearly others have as it’s been packed every night I’ve been down. That’s worth a lot more than some words from an ‘armchair quarterback’.” is really just unnecessary considering I did say I think it would be packed, “That’s not to say I don’t think the restaurant will succeed considering that area of Broadway close to Point Grey is subject to a dearth of casual restaurants of Bohemian’s ilk.”

    cut me some slack!

  • 7 Jason // Mar 27, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    and i’m sorry but i still think it’s the same drink menu. granted it’s been almost a year since i was at fiction, but i remember a lot of the same bottles and perhaps more importantly, “original” cocktails.

  • 8 kathy webster // Mar 27, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Jason,

    I appreciate your comments and hope that you do try and check it out again, through the eyes of most of us Kits folks who are really just looking for a fun neighbourhood place to unwind and have a bite and glass of wine without being outnumbered by the university/beer guzzling crowd. I know that myself and my friends are just looking for a comfortable and stylish place to catch up and grab an uncomplicated bite to eat that pleases most palates that won’t be redundant after one visit as so many are.

    Speaking of wine, Fiction had such an extensive list that I’m sure the new owners are still working through, and will be for quite some time. Taking over a ‘wine bar’ constitutes inheriting a large wine collection, which I do still see some of on the menu, so I will give you that.

    The new owners are doing a great job at revitalizing the neighbourhood with a place that really doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not — just super friendly service and good, simple eats in a refreshed room.

  • 9 Jason // Mar 27, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Fair enough. I, too, have lived in that area and although I moved recently I was excited to see what the new owners would bring. While I certainly had a fine evening, I was hoping that more would change because there is a lot of promise.

    Thanks for your comments!

  • 10 Joan Frazier // Mar 27, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Hey Jason,

    I actually agreed with many of the points you
    touched on this place. It does seem to be a bit
    confused in terms of overall vision but
    hopefully that will be cleared up in the time to come (if it lasts the competition of course!)

    on a side note, i was hoping to send you a direct email about a private winery where i get my wine that i thought you might be interested to review for your readers.
    they are italian winemakers and own a winery in West Vancouver called Il Vino. (

    They specialize in premium wines made from imported grapes from vineyards in California, Oregon, Washington State and the OK,BC.
    Best of all it is tax-free and the wines are amazing. Check them out .


  • 11 darren // Mar 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Jason…wow, that’s quite a deal of traction you’ve gotten from this review in only a few days.

    In any event, I too went to check out the new bohemian. And, while I agree with some of your comments (movie screen in particular and drink menu), I think that it actually fits in quite nicely with what that part of ‘west kits’ is trying to become.

    To me, the simple colour scheme, design and layout definitely trumps Fiction’s old look. I even think that the whole fireplace/couch combo still works perfectly. I was not overly impressed with the drink menu, but the food we sampled was great (remember, I’m not a food critic…more of a service critic).

    Coles notes: I will be back…hope you are too.


  • 12 Jason // Mar 28, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    very reasonable observations darren. I agree that things were well executed, I just wasn’t that excited about what was on offer. Take the beer list for example: boring. And the food for me was verging on the Hell’s Kitchen/Nevermind-esque. which is fine, just not very interesting to me.

  • 13 grayelf // Mar 28, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I’m going to sound crotchety here but when I walked by this place I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the name was. I had to walk across the street to read it. Wacky font.

  • 14 [eatingclub] vancouver \\ _ts // Apr 22, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    I must say, I quite enjoy your writing (content aside).

    I just finished reading your review for the New Bohemian. And wow, how people can take such objection when it’s not even a “bad” review. LOL. But from your review, I guess it’s more or less a “casual dining” place a la the chains?

    I still haven’t gotten around to the Pho series here. Eventually. I have to mentally and prepare first. ;D

  • 15 [eatingclub] vancouver \\ _ts // Apr 22, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Scratch that superfluous “and” in the last sentence (previous comment). I am typo queen.

  • 16 Jason // Apr 22, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    that’s a good summation ECV, and thanks for the support!

  • 17 Modern Mix Vancouver » Blog Archive » Dine Out Vancouver - The New Bohemian // Jan 17, 2009 at 3:18 am

    […] I discovered that the restaurant was getting less-than-stellar reviews from other sites too: here, here, here and here (Globe and […]

  • 18 Sudarat // Nov 5, 2009 at 7:31 pm


    I’m new at this restaurant review by critics, as I like to try new restaurant and form my own opinion.
    It’s truly sad to know that local critics are not always so supportive of their local new restaurants. I think you have an opportunity here to provide some positive information and great support to our new restaurants. People do read you obviously and pay attention to what you have to say otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many responses. So why not provide positive feed back for the new restaurateurs and their potential customers. Why not recommend the dishes to try and provide relevant information that will allow people to make decision on weather or not the environment and the food fit their taste and style.

    I am going to try out the restaurant with a few of my friends and look forward in forming our own opinions.
    I am sure that we will find many positive things to say about The New Bohemian Restaurant!!

    Hope your next review will be a positive one

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