Bloom Live in Altrincham has an upbeat, affable ambience, with friendly staff and customers. When the tranquil live piano-playing is not, a DJ mixes tunes to tap one’s foot to. The cocktails, as per my previous review (q.v.) are just what the doctor ordered! Highly recommended for a drinks evening.
Unfortunately, whilst the new brasserie menu is a big improvement on the American-style burger-bar fiasco, it is just not good enough. I should happily dine on a starter again if I just wanted a snack, but a full meal left us hungry and disappointed. We hit the ‘fridge as soon as we got back home...
[Image description: the keyboard at © Bloom Live]
Swayed by the 30% discount off food, my dining-partner and I turned up for early doors (around six-thirty). There were some half-a-dozen folk imbibing drinks in the central seating area. Snazzy jazz played jollily in the background. There were no diners, if one excludes a barman on a meal-break. We were quickly noticed and our attentive waitress came over to offer us a table. Naturally we wanted a cocktail first. Alas, the bar was out of a vital ingredient for pornstars; so I settled for a refreshing Jazzbaby and my companion for the ever-so-sweet Mississippi cherry pie. It was no bother to have the drinks tagged to our dining bill - although we later had to point out that the drinks had not been added (yep, too honest for our own good!). Drinks in hand, we were advised we could take any table we wished, the brasserie being deserted. Having first met my partner in a previous incarnation of the venue nearly twelve years ago, we situated ourselves next to the very pillar at which we stumbled upon one another.
Our waitress appeared to be on her own until about eight o’clock. She dealt admirably with the dozen-and-a-half diners or so, keeping a smile upon her mien and a cheery word for each time she passed our way. She and chef never kept us too long. Although in the case of the latter, I should not have minded if the delay would have ameliorated his offerings.
Pan fried Scottish queen scallops, lemon butter, pea purée - £7.00
To compare the food with the delectable cuisine served at The House Restaurant a couple of weeks earlier (see my review), I ordered scallops for my starter. For my personal pleasure they were a tad underdone, so did not reach the firm-but-pliant exquisite oral experience of the orgasmic scallops served in Goose Green. Nonetheless they were quite tasty. The four molluscs positioned at the points of the compass dotted around a dollop of the tastiest pea & mint purée with an unusually non-wet, unsloppy, wholesome consistency. Drenched in warm lemon-juice this was actually the gastronomic delight on the plate. Furthermore, for me this was the orgasmic moment and highlight of the repast.
Mini Angus beef pie, minted mushy peas, herb gravy - £6.50
My fellow diner tucked into a mini Aberdeen Angus beef & mushroom pie, accompanied by one garlic-coated, roasted cherry tomato and a single-serving-of-cream-sized jug of rich gravy. The meat was divine without a hint of fat. The mushrooms retained their structural integrity and were eaten in slow-motion to prolong the ecstasy. We fruitlessly attempted to identify the pastry-mix; but my companion did not really care for as far as he was concerned it was just perfect.
Pan fried Gressingham duck breast, orange, parsnip mash, juniper reduction - £17.50
I plumbed for the duck for my mains, incorrectly termed “entrées” on the menu. (This is US usage; but in Britain & France we use the term to mean “a dish served BEFORE the main course or BETWEEN two principal courses”.) The lozenges of duck were interspersed with segments of cooked orange, partly encasing a ramekin amount of the firm, almost fondant potato-like, parsnip mash. The anatidæic flesh - though properly pink - was dry, tough and fatty. The oranges in their overcooked state lost their structural integrity and juiciness. The dish was oddly and unexpectedly droughty. There had been a wispy hint of jus as decoration, but no sauce. I was glad I had ordered a large glass of Chilean Merlot. The cherry tomato accompaniment could have killed me, despite my having warned chef of my (true) food allergy and our lovely waitress having checked my selections were hazard-free. This plate was a delight to the eyes, an æsthetic achievement to be sure, but was a sorry disappointment to the palate. Overpriced and over cooked.
Rack of Welsh lamb, minted mash, rosemary gravy, caramelised parsnips - £17.00
[Image description: rack of lamb dish, © Bloom Live]
My guest chose a rack of Welsh lamb. This was no hearty portion, but mini-rack for a mini appetite. For me the meat was over cooked; but for my guest it was just what he ordered and just what he likes. At the end of his course he chewed happily on the small morsels of flesh still adhering to the wee bones. My partner delighted in his minted mash and his sprig of fresh rosemary. His three long juliennes of parsnip were not what could have been in any sense of the word “caramelised”, as their blanched flesh contrasted vehemently against the blackened lamb. My friend hardly felt satisfied and certainly did not consider the course worth the money.
Baby vegetables £3.00
Home cut chips £3.00
Our chips were the big, hunky-chunky variety rather than the pathetic American-style fries. Perfectly cooked, so long as one does not expect crunchy. For me, chef had sourced a really tasty potato variety. Spot on.
The side of veggies included: four small carrots - unusually my companion, who is not a carrot-lover, scoffed three before I could get to them; three incredibly and wonderfully sweet baby sweet-corns; a tablespoon of comparably flavourless mini green beans; and, the revelation of the meal, shredded red cabbage, dried fruit and a hint of cinnamon - what a combo!
Normally, I do not have room for three courses these days, but due to the not quite nouvelle cuisine portion sizing, I was still more than peckish. My companion similarly hungry also decided upon dessert. Mine was returned to the kitchen almost untouched: an arid chocolate sponge; a yellow ice that tasted of absolutely nothing; and a delicious strawberry ice-cream with a satisfying thick texture. I am no fan of strawberry-flavoured food, so this was a success - of sorts. My friend had a mint brûlée with what he described as the oddest shortbread he had ever had. Another thumbs-down dish.
Not having ingredients for cocktails might be a little remiss, but having not one bottle of sparkling mineral water in a restaurant either indicates a cock-up or a problem. I did notice part-way through our experience a barman arrive with a couple of supermarket carrier-bags. Even odder that the bar is having to pop out for their bottled elixirs! At just under seven pounds for a large glass of fair-to-good wine, I cannot whinge. It went well with my duck. My designated driver was not too happy about having to sip at tap water however!
Some great points; some fair points; some bad points; some terrible points.
Bloom Brasserie has the potential to get it right if their weaknesses are addressed.
For my glowing review of the cocktail bar, see here.
For my glowing review of the cocktail bar, see here.