Review: Boho115 lures seafood lovers with feasts of tinned fish

There is something to be said for a meal of sardines on saltines.

Since opening Boho115 in late winter in the former Square Pub space on Decatur Square, owner Humberto Bermudez has made it his mission to introduce Atlantans to the wonders of tinned fish and seafood — specifically, the primo stuff from canner Espinaler that the Mexican native came to know during his four-year tenure running restaurants in Barcelona.

An entire section of the menu at this casual seafood restaurant is dedicated to the Espinaler brand — from octopus in olive oil to baby sardines slicked in spicy sauce to anchovy-stuffed olives (Should you order these? Yes, yes and yes.) The restaurant prettily arranges the cans on a wooden board, with packaged saltines and grilled lemon halves.

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Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

If you simply want to gather with friends over unfussy food and drink, Boho115 has you covered. Build a board of canned goods and pair it with beach vacation drinks: house versions of a margarita, paloma, pisco sour, caipirinha, Hemingway daiquiri or a dirty martini made with anchovy brine, which could be improved only by a drop in temperature.

Every seat in this three-story space offers the beachy bohemian feel that the restaurant’s name is intended to evoke. Bermudez’s wife, Michele Emmons Bermudez, put her professional design experience to work to create the breezy vibe: wood-paneled walls in varying shades of maritime blue, a comfy two-seat swing on the second story, and counter seating on the third floor, overlooking the square.

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Credit: Rebecca Carmen

Credit: Rebecca Carmen

For a taste of what the kitchen is capable of creating, order ceviche de marisco, the most satisfying option from the raw bar menu. Especially generous with octopus, the mixed seafood had the bracing bite of lime and red onion.

While Boho115 features fish and seafood in plenty of other raw and cooked dishes — predominantly in Spanish and Mexican preparations — the menu leans heavily on shrimp, octopus and tuna, making its offerings feel a bit repetitive. Seafood and fish tostadas were duplicates of the ceviche, albeit served on top of a fried house-made corn tortilla instead of alongside them. Ditto for the tuna sashimi, which is enjoyed best as a shared plate featuring the bright pink thin strips of fish laced with sesame oil and soy sauce under crisscrossed carrot matchsticks.

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Credit: Liane St. Clair

Credit: Liane St. Clair

Do not miss the shatteringly crisp fried calamari — with curls of fried red onion for good measure. It was deliciously seasoned with extra shakes of black pepper, and was served with a kicked-up remoulade. Like many dishes at the restaurant, the portion was ample.

Plump, tender octopus and shrimp came to the fore (yet again) inside corn tortillas with salsa verde. And, among the tacos, crumbly, highly seasoned Mexican chorizo satisfied.

But, misnamed lobster tacos were little more than burritos stuffed with rice, beans and barely discernable lobster meat. And, Baja fried fish tacos mostly were filled with sloppy, creamy slaw.

Also, entrees left my party wanting. Grilled salmon was woefully undercooked. A plate of head-on diablo prawns was left largely untouched because of an acerbic chile-tomato sauce. A barely warm 12-ounce New York strip and oversalted lobster tails were a near waste of $58. The saving grace of that surf-and-turf option was the side of mashed potatoes, seasoned with piquillo pepper puree.

As it turned out, one of the tastiest dishes on the menu can be had for as little as $9: a cup of caldo verde de marisco, made with divine sea-green poblano broth teeming with shrimp, mussels, octopus and tuna.

I would have liked to sample grilled razor clams, the one Espinaler product that undergoes cooking at Boho115, but they were out of them during my visits; same with the octopus needed for Galician-style and charred preparations. Supply issues are understandable, but they affected service, with the staff seemingly confused about the availability of menu items.

It also seemed odd that the restaurant didn’t offer a fresh catch of the day, but whole roasted fish (oysters, too) will debut next month.

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Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Despite the uneven execution on dishes that were in rotation, Boho115 still provides reasons to amble over to Decatur Square. With a dirty martini in one hand, and a sardine on saltine in the other, you’ll find it’s a lively, carefree place to eat out of a can.

BOHO115

Food: seafood

Service: proactive, outgoing

Best dishes: tuna sashimi, ceviche de marisco, caldo verde de marisco, garlic shrimp and octopus tacos, steak and chorizo tacos, calamari fritti, piquillo pepper mash

Vegetarian dishes: chips with guacamole and salsa, mushroom or caprese empanadas, rajas vegan taco, roasted root veggies, mushrooms, piquillo pepper mash, mango napa slaw, rice, beans, garlic bread

Alcohol: full bar

Price range: $$$

Credit cards: all major cards accepted

Hours: noon-11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, noon-midnight Fridays-Saturdays, noon-10 p.m. Sundays

Parking: paid street and lot parking

MARTA station: Decatur

Reservations: not accepted

Wheelchair access: yes

Noise level: average

Outdoor dining: limited sidewalk seating

Takeout: order via phone or in person

Address, phone: 115 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-343-4637

Website: boho115.com

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