You don't have to be Czech to enjoy the Bohemian Bull Tavern & Beer Garden, nor does gypsy blood need to pulse through your veins. But if yours is an unalloyed devotion to drafts, cans and bottles of beer, you have found nirvana. You won't find Pliny the Younger, but St. Bernardus ABT 12 Quadrupel is on the menu.
Bohemian Bull Tavern & Beer Garden
Cuisine: Pub grub, burgers and sandwiches
Representative Dish: Fried mac and cheese bites and the breakfast burger
Address: 1531 Folly Road, James Island
Bar: Full-service bar; 32 beers on tap
Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Full menu served until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Late-night menu served 10 p.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday; 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday
Food: 3 1/2
Costs: Starters $4.95-$10.99; burgers and sandwiches $5.95-$10.50; salads $6.95 ($2-$3 for added protein); sandwiches $5.50-$9.95; sides $2; late-night menu $4.95-$10.99
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes; beer garden is gravel
Other: Happy Hour $1 off drafts, boat beer and specialty cocktails; half off appetizers. Live music, special events, private events, beer release parties, outdoor beer garden, corn hole, bocce court, fire pit, yard games, picnic tables, daily beer menu, children's menu
Bohemian Bull Tavern & Beer Garden was launched this fall on the site vacated by Jack's Cosmic Dogs on Folly Road on James Island.
The team of Dave and Chrissy Lorenz and John Ferguson along with former Jack's general manager Chad Biel and chef Jered Young joined forces in creating the island's first outdoor beer garden and tavern.
They nailed the Boho look with an exterior of corrugated steel, feeding troughs filled with greenery and a 3,000-square-foot garden lined with a rebar arch guiding your way to a regulation-size bocce court, picnic tables, fire pits and yard games all surrounded by repurposed wooden pallets arranged as a patchwork fence.
Eclectic describes the interior where glass jugs are crafted into chandeliers, split logs are mounted on a wall as banquette seating, beams are painted in the bright day-glow palette of the '70s and benches are "upholstered" in beer bottle caps.
In true Bohemian fashion, funky patterns and layered details are combined for maximum effect. Ganesha the elephant god keeps company with the taxidermied head of a bull; pillows create plush landscapes around the tavern's rustic interior. Asian rugs carpet the ceiling and the intricate beer taps create their own dioramas of sculpture at a gallery.
All this Bohemian exotica is the perfect metaphor for the tavern. For as the design esthetic blends a variety of styles and counterculture elements, so, too, does the beer menu showcase an idiosyncratic list. Taking great pride in their new releases, seasonal beers and some highly rated bottles, the beer range mirrors the decor.
Holy City, Frothy Beard, Westbrook, Coast and Freehouse have a place at the bar; Normandy Farms and GrowFoodCarolina have a place at the table.
The menu speaks in a language that will resonate with the guests. It is spread over a variety of choices, including deviled eggs with bacon and Parmesan cheese goosed with truffle oil; long, tapered spears of okra crusted in a Southern mantle of batter; pimiento cheese dip zapped with pepper Jack; hummus pressed from earthy black beans; and a biergarten classic: soft, warm pretzels wearing a sheen of butter stippled with salt.
Fried, panko crumb-encrusted mac and cheese bites ooze with their molten cheese core. The cheese is a bit of "nursery school" bland (try an aged cheddar, perhaps?) but the textural play of crusted bread shards with tender macaroni and cheese will delight all ages. Wings and rings make the required appearance and the "bull" chili is made from the same freshly ground brisket and chuck that shapes the burgers.
Normandy Farms bakes the rolls for the burgers and chef Young and his staff have tweaked the Southern classics with just enough liberty and not too much hubris. Beer-battered anything usually trumps the food with a shaggy bark of coating, but at Bohemian Bull, a thin veil of hopped-up breading gently sheathes the vegetables.
The choice to grind brisket and chuck together suffuses the burger meat with the best of chuck's fat along with the bracing juiciness of brisket's intramuscular marbling. The Breakfast Burger layers beef, ketchup, hash browns, egg, cheese, a sausage patty and maple syrup for a tornado of flavors that taste like, well, breakfast.
Try a build-your-own with a menu of 38 ingredients to adorn your burger, chicken breast or black bean patty.
Young and his team have not tricked out the menu with combinations of banal flavors and textures but seem to have carefully considered what's between the bun and the bread: paper thin rib-eye steak on the Folly cheesesteak; crisp pickled vegetables on the pulled pork Boho-mi, their take on the Vietnamese banh mi; and a messy and gooey pimiento Joe where chili and pepper Jack pimento cheese saturate the surface of grilled sourdough bread.
Salad lovers will get their fiber with a well-constructed selection of greens, cheese, grains, fruits and dressings that complement the salad's heritage.
Sides are not an after-thought here and the "loaded" potato salad is worth the calories.
The beer selection demonstrates there is no bubble in our local craze for suds. Pours are 10 ounces and 16 ounces and flights are available and suggested. The Westbrook Gose Salted Sour, Founders Breakfast Stout and Avery Karma Belgian Pale Ale are far removed from the German Purity Laws but make for interesting drinking.
They even have an Estrella Daura gluten-free lager (less than 3ppm gluten) that continues to garner awards for its category. Beers are seasonal and the menu will change accordingly.
The recent climate unpleasantness known as winter did not allow us to experience the beer garden in full bloom. Its success will depend on proper staffing and a kitchen keeping pace with the menu's ambition. Properly tapped, James Island has a beer bastion.
For those who grieve the loss of Jack's, return to Bohemian Bull, where you will find in the refrain of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" that the Bull is continuing to "carry on, carry on."
Beer-battered onion rings×
Outdoor dining — and playing×
A truffle burger×
A rebar arch leads to outside dining at Bohemian Bull Tavern & Beer Garden on Folly Road.×
Boho Eggs are deviled eggs filled with truffle oil, bacon, Parmesan and scallions.×
Fried mac and cheese bites at Bohemian Bull Tavern & Beer Garden on Folly Road.×
Indoor dining at Bohemian Bull Tavern & Beer Garden on Folly Road.×