Hot Spot: Boheme Durham at Straw Valley

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Chef Chelsea Mock describes the look on customers’ faces when they first enter the gate at Boheme as one of the best sights of her day. “It’s a sense of awe,” she says. “It starts this journey that you’re taking along with us.”

The art in the restaurant is local, with a few pieces from owner Giorgios Bakatsias’ own collection. Photo by Briana Brough.

That journey typically begins in the restaurant itself – a former home of two artists, Robert Black and Ormond Sanderson – divided into several rooms both cozy and yet spacious enough that, even when filled with guests, it doesn’t feel cramped or overwhelming. There are plenty of semi-private corners and spaces in which to partake in an intimate meal for two or eight. Get a glass of wine in the foyer area bar while you wait for a table, or mosey on back to the outside bar to enjoy an appetizer. On a pleasant evening, take dinner on the patio surrounded by blooms and bamboo with taut awnings overhead, and explore the Bohemian Garden when live music is scheduled.

Trevor Chinn, Laura Chinni and Rita Onufer enjoy drinks on the patio. Photo by Briana Brough.

“The space was a great opportunity to produce a community restaurant rather than a traditional restaurant,” says owner Giorgios Bakatsias, whose hospitality group is behind Boheme. “I think the space has success written all over it – it just needs the right food experience and the right hospitality, almost like when you walk into somebody’s house and all of a sudden, you don’t want to leave; you want to stay there and enjoy friendship, good food and good wine.”

The team: Consultant Chef William D’Auvrey, Operating Partner C.D. Mock, Giorgios, General Manager Jesse Cortez and Chelsea. Photo by Briana Brough.

Which brings us to the food: The menu is carefully curated, seasonal and driven by local ingredients, meant to reflect the art of cooking in the moment – “the garden dictates the concept here,” Giorgios says. The staff even prints the menus in house, so they can change it as needed. “It’s hard to label us,” Chelsea says. “We’ve tried to come up with names like American, contemporary – I don’t think we ever settled on one – there’s no way to describe it because it’s not about the cuisine, it’s about what you are utilizing from your past experiences, places you’ve traveled, and bringing that all to fruition, driven by this Zen experience and uniqueness of this place; it means we get to take some risks.”

Chelsea adds a floral arrangement to the chef’s table, which seats 12. Photo by Briana Brough

Chelsea adds that the space will be constantly evolving, and you can always expect something new. (Stay tuned for details on an upcoming whiskey lounge in September.) “There’s huge passion and love here, and knowledge and talent,” Chelsea says. “It’s really, really exciting.”

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Amanda MacLaren

Amanda MacLaren is the executive editor of Durham Magazine. Born in Mesa, Arizona, she grew up in Charlotte and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism. She’s lived in Durham for eight years. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her with a beer in hand at Fullsteam, Dain’s Place or Bull City Burger or getting takeout from Guasaca.

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