Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Flower is on the Bloom

The flower is definitely back on The Bloom on Bloor Street. I used to be fairly regular at this Bloor West destination but dining competition is fierce and it after a few visits at Bloom the menu lost its lustre for me. Then the lovely Mary Luz Mejia of Sizzling Communications, invited me to what I refer to as a "soft re-opening" of the restaurant for the local Tweeps and social media food goonies. How could I possibly turn that invite down?
A night to hang with my sisters in food crimes! I was so down with that.

Immediately I noticed there seemed to be a different, fresh vibe in the dining room. The wall colour isn't the only thing different at Bloom. The new man behind the doors in the kitchen, Chef Pedro Quintanilla, whose background in Cuban cooking, turned the menu on its ear with his blend of Latin dishes. Surrounded by my food tweeps we settled in for a glimpse to what we could expect from the newly refaced Bloom restaurant.

The hosts welcomed us with some lovely light cocktail offerings of Bloom Mojitos or the Blooming Buds. Both were refreshing and a great way to start up the evening.

The opening act was Cassava Frites garnished with Mojo dipping sauce. Anything with the word mojo in it is like that moment in the film "Jerry Maguire" with the old "You had at me at hello." line. It was a perfect Amuse Bouche and got my taste buds all roaring and ready to go.

Starters were a choice between Ceviche or a Spring Terrine. In my wisdom I buddied up with a Food Tweep and we struck and agreement to each order the opposite and share our plates so we could get to try it all. The Spring Terrine (chicken liver & foie gras) was sided with crostini, two crispy onion rings and stems of freshly steamed aspargus. Kudos to the kitchen for not turning the asparagus into stringy sticks of greeness. On an ethical food note, Bloom is committed to using sustainable fish, bravo to the management for recognizing the importance of a sustainable seafood supply. The fish was cured in lime juice, habanero peppers and cilantro. It had some attitude and I was down with that. Although the Ceviche we had that evening was a bit chewier than I prefer, the lime juice with the Habanero really kicked it up a notch. For me the winner was the Spring Terrine. I have since again tried the Ceviche, which really is a house specialty, and the second time was much better.

For mains, the choice was Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna Fillet with crispy spuds, roasted veggies drizzled with a tofu-wasabi dressing or a pan seared Flank Steak topped with a Chimichurri Sauce, sided with garlic mashed potatoes and ginger glazed carrots. The fish was cooked perfectly with the sesame creating a very dry crust. I have eaten my share of Chimichurri over the years but hands down the Chimichurri atop a seared rare sliced pile of flank steak was freakishly delicious.

Most restaurants make the Chimichurri in a food processor, turning it into what most would say looked more like Pesto. This Chimichurri had real body to it. It wasn't runny but rather sat like a firm condiment across the meat. I later learned from Chef Quintanilla that he hand chops the Chimichurri which explains the consistency. It also told me volumes about the calibre of the food he sends out of the kitchen.

While I liked the Tuna, I'm a meat loving kinda girl and the flank steak was a home run. Just writing about that Chimichurri on the steak makes my mouth water. A mouthful of that meat and those garlic mashed potatoes was a food love affair in my mouth.

Bring on the sweets! The evening choices consisted of Churros (insert drool strings here) with warm chocolate sauce and ice cream or a Cuban Dulce de Leche flan with Thyme. The Churros was much more tiny than what I am accustomed to. The killer though was the warm chocolate sauce that was edgy with a slight tang of heat and cinnamon. The Dulce de Leche flan was true to flan style and was pretty much spot on although I'm not sure I could taste the Thyme. The winner for the sweets of the evening, without question, had to be those crispy little Churros drizzled with that chocolate sauce.

Malivoire wines were the accompanying libations. They included a 2009 Pinot Gris, a 2007 (which by far and away was one of the best years for wine in Ontario) Pinot Noir and for dessert a 2008 Icewine Riesling was served. All worked well with the food but for me I was feeling the love for the Pinot.

I'm definitely adding Bloom back to my restaurant destination list. It's a great date spot, a great spot to get together with your girlie pals or just a lovely, low key spot to kick back and enjoy a decent meal. The new menu at Bloom is worth a look at. You don't want to miss out on that Chimichurri and the Churros are plate licking worthy! Like I said, the flower is definitely back on the Bloom!

Couple of quick notes; Bloom offers a BYOW with corkage of $10 bucks Tues-Thurs, $20 Fri-Sat.

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