I wanted to go somewhere special for my birthday, and was having a hard time determining the perfect place. After several people told me to give it a try, I made a reservation at Bloomsbury Bistro.
The chef, John Toler, takes traditional French cooking and combines it with fresh local North Carolina flavors and favorites. He changes his menu with the seasons so every six weeks you can go and try something completely different. They have a separate gluten free menu, for those with dietary restrictions, that includes almost all of the items on the menu. There is a great variety within the appetizers, bar menu and regular dinner menu with options for meat eaters, vegetarians and seafood lovers alike. The interior is your regular “fine dining” white table cloth experience. Here’s a little taste of our birthday dinner adventures…
What you see here is a delicious farm egg poached in aged soy over a crispy chicken-sushi rice cake with Red Miso broth, stir fried shitake mushrooms and snow peas ($9.50). This was ordered from the gluten free menu. The rice cake was seasoned well and perfectly crispy. And yes, that egg had a beautifully golden runny center.
The caramelized Vidalia onion bisque with hickory smoked pulled pork shank, herbed Chantilly crème and fried shallots ($8.95) had a robust flavor and was deliciously creamy. It was a true hit. The caramelized vidalia onion really added another layer of flavor to a traditional soup.
This was a salad of field greens and garden herbs tossed in Green Goddess vinaigrette with Holland’s Brabander goat milk Gouda cheese and Cherry tomatoes ($8.95). It was your typical salad, nothing special but that gouda cheese was fantastically creamy.
On to the entrees! What you see here is also from the gluten free menu. It is a Korean style hot pot of rice stick noodles and roasted tofu with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, stir fried eggplant, mango, aged soy broth and a side of Kimchi ($17.95). I believe on top of being gluten free, it was also vegetarian. I have to say, I was skeptical about the mango, but it was fantastic. Such a nice surprise of flavor. The mushrooms were cooked amazingly well and really brought that umami that you want in a meatless dish.
The Heritage Farm’s pork Tenderloin Portuguese style over saffron rice with Chorizo sausage, shaved Kale and steamed Little Neck clams ($23.95) was juicy and tender. The saffron rice had an amazing fragrance and flavor that really brought out the clams.
The burger came from the bar menu. It was your typical 10 oz Black Angus burger, Tillamook Cheddar cheese, with all the trimmings on the side ($12.95). The person that ordered it was very happy with the cook of the meat and the variety of sauces, especially the mustard sauce.
For my dinner, I ordered the grilled Maine monkfish over a sauté of sugar snap peas, grilled leeks and artichoke bottoms in Champagne Barigoule sauce ($26.95). It is served with a beet spatzel if you order it with gluten, however I am currently sans gluten, so they left that off for me. the fish was delicate and cooked very well. I loved the vegetable variety – amazingly well cooked, crispy and well seasoned.
I think the pecan-cornmeal crusted Carolina classic catfish over a bowl of chipotle chile spiked Shellfish broth with whole Hominy grits, Louisiana crayfish tails and green tomato chutney ($22.95) was the biggest surprise of the night. Really, the fish was so well seasoned, complimented perfectly by the hominy grits and cooked well. The crust was crispy and it was golden brown.
My final dining buddy ordered the pan roasted jumbo black tiger shrimp over a rustic puree of Spring peas with Flat Leaf parsley and a roasted garlic butter filled ravioli ($10.95). She loved the dish, said that the shrimp were juicy and well seasoned. The ravioli was well cooked and delicious.
Overall, we were happy with our selections and with the experience. They do charge a cake fee if you want to bring your own cake ($3/guest), so be aware of that. It was a great way to spend my birthday. Thank you for the delicious experience.