Restaurant Bloom
By Lydia on October 18, 2008 10:49 AM| | Comments (2)
I have been meaning to visit Restaurant Bloom for a long time, since its old location on Cherry Street, and after, pretty much every time I ride my bike downtown. Granted, I had heard some mixed reviews, most of which said effectively the same thing: Bloom was good, but inconsistent.

Bloom occupies the space of Cafe Solace, and uses its liquor license. The room is painted a olive shade which, paired with a certain smooth starkness and a glut of bamboo and polished wood invokes a sort of nouveau-Green frippery. There are only about 10 tables in the place, which is good, as any more would seem like wishful hubris. There was one table there when we arrived, and one more when we left, and this was at 7PM on a Friday night.

Bloom is run by a couple of GRCC culinary school grads, and it strives toward a certain culinary school-educated pretension. Large, square, white plates hold a tiny piece of protein on top of a vegetable, with a broad swath of sauce streaked across the side. This is the food you saw Carrie Bradshaw eating at "fancy" New York restaurants 10 years ago on Sex and the City. I am not decrying presentation, but when it seems to be forefront on the chef's mind, before even flavor, something is seriously misprioritized.

An appetizer of cheddar chunks on toast was passable, if proportionaly skewed toward cheese to the detriment of taste, and the cippolini onions on top were quite nice. An entree of cod fared worse; its skin was crisped, but the flesh was overcooked, and it was entirely unseasoned. I haven't had such a tastless piece of fish since the last time I tried ordering sushi in a dream. I am not clear on what the sauce smeared to the side was supposed to be, but it was unpleasently sweet.

Our other dish was a pork tenderloin, which was delicious. It was well cooked, salted, unlike its cod friend, and it came with a really tasty bit of turnip and kale. Unfortunately, it came with a "sauce" which unless corrected by the waiter I would have believed to be nothing more than an undercooked roux. I was informed that it was meant to be almond sauce, but I am still pretty suspicious.

I am perhaps being too harsh with Bloom. I can admit that my disappointment may be making me too critical. It is great to have ambitious cuisine in Grand Rapids, a city so lacking in culinary excitement. Missteps must be allowed, I get that, but I wish that new and innovative food didn't have to come with the pompousness of Bloom. The service was awkward in its attitude of classiness, and even the server seemed uncomfortable with his script. This combined with the decor and the food seemed more like snobbery than a fresh take on food. I am willing to give Bloom a second shot, I hope that next time it doesn't feel this stilted and taste this bland.

This is almost exactly how my wife and I felt when we went to Bloom on Cherry in Sept. 2007 for our 1st anniversary dinner. It was more miss than hit, especially for the price, and the atmosphere just didn't do anything special for us. I do remember that the soup was EXCELLENT and the dessert was quite unique and good.

On my one-and-only, never-again visit to Bloom, the server was simply, unabashedly rude when I asked if I could have a different side than that on the menu. In this economy, bad service = soon-to-be-closed restaurant.