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Bohemian Crystal

Tonight, Food Critic James Ward covers a suburban restaurant that he says is as deliciously ethnic as anything the city has to offer! James, take us to Bohemian Crystal! It's a notable Czech restaurant --a family place --with a special appeal to folks of a certain age --my age --because it offers humongous heapings of hefty vittles at low-low prices. So, loosen your belts for some Bohemian, Moravian, Slovakian and sub-Carpathian Ruthenian cookery!

Just off Ogden in west suburban Westmont, Bohemian Crystal has spacious parking without --and within -- spacious and gracious seating & service. These mobile & sweetly solicitous Czech waitresses do a swell job ...all under the amiable direction of owner Jerry Zita.

The place itself is out-of-this-world Old World --filled with all kinds of Czech tchotzkes -- including, of course, Bohemian Crystal --as weighty as the food --a knock-out combo of German and Slavic subtlety. That means plenty of sauerkraut, cabbage, red cabbage, potatoes --boiled or instant-mashed --and dumplings, dumplings, dumplings.

There are more dishes and menus here than a Chinese restaurant --with such high-off-the-hog pig-out treats as buttcakes --smoked butt in potato pancakes! Love it! As I do the roast pork entree ...and the House Specialty of pork loin & butt.

Other best sellers include the mountainous Moravian Platter --meatloaf, pork, veal and duck. Also, catch the BBQ ribs --they may not be Czech but these St. Louis spares are tops!

Other favorites of mine --a beautiful lamb shank with barley dressing ...and that unique Czech dish --fruit dumplings with cottage cheese, sugar and melted butter. Unbelievable! Also remember --entrees come with a long list of starters & sides from soup or salad to starches & sweets --kolackys or jiggly red jello! That's a lotta food!

But happily, you can pack up what's left and take it home.

You can also take home good cheer!

"Stastny Novy Rok!" Says one waitress -- That's Czech for "Happy New Year!"

Bohemian Crystal is at 639 N. Blackhawk in Westmont. Call 630-789-1981. Average tab for lunch, 7 bucks; dinner about $11.50.

And on a scale of 1 to 10, Bohemian Crystal gets a Bread rating of 7 for food; and a 7 for Circuses!

Published on January 4th 2002