It’s hard to believe that Bohemian House (11 W. Illinois St., River North, 312-955-0439) has been with us for two years. It’s been a wild ride, but it seems the first chapter of the Book of BoHo is drawing to a close. Ringing in the new era is incoming executive chef Rob Sidor, a one-time Chicagoan returning from Philadelphia to take the reins at BoHo. While Sidor’s been in the kitchen since mid-July, it’s a behind-the-scenes affair. He makes his public debut today.
And what a fit: Sidor’s family comes from Slovakia and Poland—solid BoHo territory. “My grandfather was always making cabbage rolls and kielbasa, and my grandmother made kipferls and kolacky,” he says. “I grew up with a lot of the dishes and ingredients we are working with here.”
In addition to his relevant heritage, Sidor has a long history at impressive eateries. He’s a self-taught chef who stumbled into the kitchen through a job as a short-order cook (as a kid, he wanted to be a violinist). He discovered a passion for food and started working his way up, passing through Philly institutions like Blackfish and Di Bruno Bros. After a stint as executive chef at the Treemont, Sidor set his sights on Chicago. For the vibrant culinary scene, sure—but also for love.
“I came back to marry the love of my life,” he says. Sidor joins his long-time girlfriend, Arian.
In the meantime, Sidor is getting to work. The first order of business is simply to get acclimated: He’s added only one new dish to the menu so far, whitefish served with a sweet, smoky birch custard (a popular flavor in the Czech Republic). Expect bigger changes when the fall menu rolls around. “I have so many ideas I’ve been playing with,” he says.
First and foremost: a bublanina—a pound cake studded with airy bubbles. Sidor presented a version of this cake (with orange blossom curd and poppy seeds) for his BoHo audition. It helped secure him the job, so it’s definitely something to look forward to.
“We are tweaking [the bublanina] now,” he says. “I love the science and technique behind cooking. To keep to that traditional realm, while elevating a dish… that’s what really excites me.”