Sitting back from Folly Road and topped with a tin roof, Bohemian Bull Tavern & Beer Garden on James Island resembles the roadhouses of days gone by. Upon walking in the front door, patrons are greeted with options that expand in three directions. Imbibers can hang a left and pony up to the bar, while diners can snag a seat in the dining room to the right. If those choices are too singular for your tastes, you can venture out to the beer garden in back for a game of cornhole and bocce ball with al fresco dining or craft beers by moonlight.
After a few visits, Bohemian Bull's designation as a beer garden can feel like a bit of a misnomer. Unlike, say Bay Street Biergarten, the restaurant does not follow a literal interpretation of the title and is free from Bavarian-themed decor or heavy Germanic cooking. The beer garden appears to be more a tip of the hat to the bohemian, laid-back style that has become synonymous with James Island and its residents.
Inside, the decor is influenced by the American Southwest, with deep red stained wood walls and bright turquoise adorning the walls. A steer skull watches over the bar while fringed curtains hang in a corner. The outdoor beer garden is a comfortable space peppered with wooden picnic tables and lit with strings of cafe lights. It's an expansive space that can host large crowds and special events.
Behind the bar, 32 taps pump out a rotating selection of craft beers in a variety of styles, from stouts and IPAs to Belgian styles and lagers. But the wide range of choices aren't limited to beer. Over 70 whiskey, bourbon, and Scotch varieties are on hand for imbibers who hold specific labels dear. The cocktail list includes standouts like The 862 ($7.50), which pairs Virgil Kaine ginger-infused bourbon with Cannonborough honey basil soda in a frozen concoction.
The pub grub section of the menu includes standard fare like hot wings and pimento cheese dip. The fried mac and cheese bites ($7) are a bad-for-your-waistline indulgence of lightly fried breading that oozes with cheesy bits of macaroni. They're a guilty pleasure done right. The Boho eggs ($6) are relatively tame compared to some of the other deviled eggs being concocted these days such as the fried oyster-topped versions at Warehouse, but Bohemian Bull's succeed mainly because their truffle oil and bacon are mercifully kept in check with parmesan and scallion.
The menu's burger offerings are broken up between traditional beef burgers with inventive toppings and alternatives like burgers that eschew beef altogether. Traditionalists will appreciate the blend of brisket and chuck that serves as the cornerstone of the mushroom and swiss burger ($9.50) or the breakfast burger ($10.50) with eggs over medium and hashbrowns. The meat is juicy and full of flavor, even for those who order at the well-done end of the temperature scale. The alternative burgers are anchored by the hippie bean burger ($9) and po boy shrimp burger ($10), a lightly fried shrimp patty topped with house-made pickles and remoulade.
Among the sandwich offerings are Southern fried chicken ($8.50) and a classic reuben ($10). The Boho-mi ($8.50) is a standout interpretation of a traditional Vietnamese bánh mì, combining smoky pulled pork with a sour trio of pickled vegetables and a hot sambal-infused mayonnaise. Those looking to recreate a more beer garden-inspired experience can opt for the giant bratwurst ($8), which is covered by a pile of grilled peppers and onions and striped with a dab of ground mustard.
Salads like the granny apple seed ($7) offer a lighter choice, with its chunks of green apple and cucumber matched with bean sprouts and red peppers in a mustard vinaigrette. The portions are sizable, but still larger appetites can top theirs with proteins.
The service is an appropriate compliment to the casual vibe at Bohemian Bull. The bartenders and servers were both attentive and deft in their menu recommendations, making the Bull a choice spot for grabbing a quick pint and burger at the bar. And for those looking to catch a game or hang out with friends, its relaxed ambiance encourages guests to linger longer.