Nestled inside a century-old row home since 2021, Georgetown’s Michelin-listed sanctuary Apéro has generated lots of attention for its fabulous French fare, Champagne, and caviar selection. Now its anticipated prix-fixe counterpart La Bohème is ready to shine upstairs.
The intimate tasting room (2622 P Street NW), which opened Friday, October 13, showcases modern American cuisine through a curious, child-like lens. The immersive dinner party’s seasonal menus celebrate famed artists, musicians, playwrights, and directors — starting with eccentric cinematic icon and illustrator Tim Burton as its opening muse.
Chef Christos Harbilas works in tandem with advanced sommelier-owner Elli Benchimol to curate a playfully artistic dining-and-drinking experience a few nights a week. Pee-wee’s egg salad sandwich pays homage to late actor Paul Reubens’ breakout role in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure — the first feature film Burton produced. Seatings run 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday to start, with walk-ins available at the bar. Tuesday service enters the fold on October 31, and customers are encouraged to don Halloween costumes.
As the holidays approach, look for Nightmare Before Christmas-styled tweaks to the gothic Burton motif. The next theme will drop right after New Year’s Eve.
“So much thought goes into it, based on the theme of the quarter,” says Benchimol.
The 4- or 6-course menus ($85 or $115) plan to rotate four times a year. Like Apéro, which boasts a twice-a-day “Caviar Hour” with bubbly flutes for an approachable $40 and up, “we’re not trying to gauge people,” at La Bohème. The choose-your-own-adventure model lets diners mix and match courses categorized by columns.
Another nostalgic dish dubbed “Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy” is a mushroom-centric spinoff of the poetry collection penned by Burton.
A wine list that largely swings French plays up grower Champagnes, which are made by the estate that owns the vineyards. A base-level wine pairing option joins higher-end choices, with cocktail accompaniments prepared behind the pint-sized bar.
La Bohème grants guests rare access to Chartreuse — the in-demand French herbal liqueur that’s in the midst of a global supply shortage. “We have been stocking up since we opened Apéro,” notes Benchimol. A frozen flight of all three (yellow, green, VEP) riffs on a sorbet palate cleanser.
Caviar supplements also make their way upstairs, and the the salty splurge can be added to items like the egg salad sandwich and pre- and post-meal cheeses.
“We are fortunate to have a loyal neighborhood following. We’re bringing them what they want — something fancier for more special occasions,” says Benchimol, noting La Bohème sits within walking distance from Dupont.
The team took the past year to transform second-floor office space into the tasting room of their dreams, complete with its own entrance from the street. Unlike its sultry downstairs sibling dressed in deep blue, La Bohème lightens up the mood with brighter colors, textures, stripes, and velvet.
“Being the French word for ‘bohemian,’ it has that vibe with pink and red tones and tons of patchwork,” says on-site sommelier Corbin Goldstein.
Two- and four-top tables can be reconfigured depending on party size. A calm and lounge-y jazz soundtrack sneaks in fun surprises on any given night.
“I don’t want La Bohème to be a one-time destination. I want to be a place people come back every season and bring their friends because it was so fun,” says Benchimol.