In Bloom

It's been a chilly couple of days out here, but I'm still warm and cozy from a lovely dinner Tuesday night with Mr. D. There was no occasion for it, other than the desire to spend a little special time together.

I am usually hesitant to try any restaurant that sticks menus in mailboxes. Why would someone do that unless they were desperate? However, as one who loves reading anything food-related, I always glance through before trashing it, and one day I was really glad I did. We’d noticed Bloom, a brightly colored storefront at Pico and Hauser, many times since moving and often commented that we should check it out. When we got THAT menu, their claim of cooking with locally grown organic foods, combined with some really unique and tasty-sounding offerings totally hooked me. Before heading out, I read some reviews online that only made me more excited!

I read on a couple different sites that Bloom didn’t have a liquor license, but DID have BYO, AND no corkage fee. The latter is sort of revolutionary in LA. Why places feel ok with charging $25 to unscrew a cork is completely beyond me. But I digress. Since we’ve been trying to be ‘better’ (ie, more frequent) wine drinkers (hopefully in the hope of becoming aficionados rather than lushes), I thought it would be fun to take along a bottle we had picked up at Cost Plus. (On a side note, David found this website that lists cheap-to-no corkage fees in LA restaurants--seems like a pretty new site, but it could be a neat resource down the road. If you know of places with low cork fees, you can submit!)

One of my favorite things about the restaurant, before even stepping foot inside, was that it is walking distance from our house. You just don't get that very much in this city! I don't think I would make that walk by myself after dark--in spite of beautification efforts, Pico Blvd is still very rough around the edges--but with David, it was a nice (safe) little adventure.

The restaurant is divided into two sections--on the right side is the restaurant, with about 12 tables; the left side appears to be a take-out/juice bar deal, although I don't think it's open at night. The whole place was pleasantly dim, and we were greeted immediately by the man who turned out to be the waiter. He opened our wine as a busboy brought us wine glasses and cucumber-infused water (so refreshing!) and we perused the menu.

One thing I read about this place was that the pizzas were awesome, so we decided to find one of those to split, along with another dish. It didn't take us long to agree on the Rosemary Comte Cheese Potato. The salads here are outside the norm in a very good way--more than your standard Caesar, Cobb or spinach-and we finally settled on the Spicy Free Range Chicken Salad, with baby greens, poblano chile, roasted corn (I think David hogged all of that--corn:David::spinach::Popeye) and sundried tomato-red chili vinaigrette. I also got a cup of the Vegan Soup of the Day, butternut squash. Such a sucker for pureed vegetable soups!

First the soup. It had a nice squash flavor, but needed something more to round out the overall profile. Table salt didn't do the trick--I think my standbys allspice or nutmeg would have been particularly effective.

There are no complaints about flavor with the salad. The dressing added a good kick to the generous portion of greens and (delicious) chicken. The pizza, too--I am not too familiar with Comte cheese, but it is creamy and very mild, and complemented the razor thin slices of potato beautifully. There was no one glaring flavor on this pizza--even the rosemary seemed to be a subtle infusion rather than the leading lady, as is so often the case by the mere fact that it's a strong herb.

Throughout our meal, there's little doubt that part of our enjoyment came from the wine. We are still green in the whole wine game and even more so in our experience with reds, but we lucked out with this Cabernet. I won't try to explain it because my palate isn't sophisticated enough to detect individual fruits and chocolates and herbs like some can--suffice to say it went down easy, warmed our bellies, and widened the smiles on our faces just a little bit.

The food was so lovely that I was tempted to opt out of dessert...even the best of restaurants can be hit or miss with that portion of the meal, you know? My hesitation disappeared, though, when he listed the amazing-sounding ice creams and sorbets they had. We decided on a bowl of the brown sugar vanilla bean. Oh. My. Goodness. Heaven in my mouth.

The bill was wonderfully affordable (my, do I love BYOB!) and we left arm in arm, thrilled that we had found such a great neighborhood restaurant to call our own.

That's all for now, folks! Tune in next time when I wax poetic about our lemon tree....



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