Route 9, Malta, 584-4484. Serving dinner Tue-Thu 5-9, Fri-Sat
5-10. AE, D, MC, V.
price range: $12 (Southern-fried quail) to $28 (New
contradictions abound in Bloomers, both as a concept and in
what you’ll experience while dining. The menu takes an elegant
approach to familiar fare, yet it’s priced surprisingly accessibly.
The place itself has the shell of a silver diner, but the
inside murmurs sophistication. And the owner, Michael Bauer,
retired from the insurance business to create this place with
no previous restaurant experience.
shrewd enough to hire chef Mark Lawrence, whose culinary stamp
perpetuates some of the provenance of this place, because
this is the former location of Chez Sophie Bistro, in whose
kitchen Lawrence spent seven years as sous-chef.
another of the many area apostles of simplified preparations
of the freshest possible ingredients. But don’t let “simplified”
fool you—this isn’t about slapping a steak on a grill or boiling
miss the place as you approach, thanks to a blue neon sign
that also gives the silver building a bluish glow. Inside,
the aging booths were replaced with roomier ones, the lunch
counter has given way to a more formal service bar, and there’s
a new floor and new lighting.
since last April, Bloomers has a menu that Bauer and Lawrence
have evolved over the months into a wide-ranging survey of
food ranging from the familiar to the slightly exotic. To
keep the pricing within reason, one page is titled “Light
Fare” and offers full-bodied stuff in portions smaller than
our Brobdingnagian tradition expects, but which therefore
are priced from $12 to $21.
can tell you that the venison chop I ordered seemed not at
all deficient. Not in portion size and certainly not in preparation.
The meat itself was as tender as it could possibly be, and
that alone, combined with the grill-enhanced flavor, would
have been satisfying enough. The added cherry demi-glace reminded
me that venison, like pork, offers even more when paired with
something just a little bit sweet.
if the chop weren’t served atop a bank of mashed potatoes,
I’d have fork-pushed those spuds into the drippings-enhanced
sauce. That’s part of the job of the starch. Finished with
crisp string beans, the plate was as excellent an entrée as
I’ve recently tasted.
had the temerity to consume it in front of a vegetarian. Like
most of her persuasion, she views the omnivorous folly of
most of the world with easygoing resignation. Besides, she’s
technically a pescetarian, which she demonstrated by ordering
a starter of an Alaskan king crab cake ($12). It’s one large
cake, in fact, and you’re not at all surprised to learn that
in the eternal struggle between breading and fish, the fish
in Lawrence’s preparation wins. It’s the satisfyingly dominant
flavor, and it’s well enhanced by a not-too-sweet (and moderately
spicy) red-pepper remoulade.
your meal more gently with a soup—crab bisque ($6) is a regular
offering—or a salad. Or do as I did and start with something
relatively mild, like the house pâté ($10). It’s a slice of
a country-style loaf in which duck meat figures prominently,
served simply but attractively with cornichons and a dab of
which I had the simplest salad ($5), a mix of fresh greens
and the house vinaigrette. Other salads include oranges and
roasted beets with a walnut vinaigrette ($8) and a $10 beef
tenderloin and maytag cheese mix over arugula. Lawrence cures
his own salmon for another appetizer offering ($9). Also available
are shrimp cocktail ($11), oysters ($12), calamari ($10) and
a wild-mushroom-and-fontina tart ($12).
page is a recent addition intended, Bauer explained, to make
Bloomers an affordable destination for weekly dining. The
selections sound as good as anything else on the menu, including
grilled marinated shrimp ($15), seared scallops with an herbed
beurre blanc ($16) and filet mignon au poivre
facing page, the regular entrées include barbecued quail with
an espresso-and-chipotle sauce ($23), over which the venison
only very narrowly won in my ordering stakes, lamb chops ($28),
White Marble Farms pork loin ($23), and cioppino (with shrimp,
scallops and clams, $26). Also a couple of significant vegetarian
items: bulgar and black bean “meatloaf” with mushroom gravy
($21), and the item my friend enjoyed, a cassoulet that substituted
mushrooms and an array of finely-chopped vegetables for the
confit, served in an aromatic white bean stew ($21).
dined, we enjoyed an eclectic selection of blues-based music
which, like the name of the restaurant, is a tribute to one
of Bauer’s heroes: guitarist Mike Bloomfield. “And did you
know that his father owned Bloomfield Industries?” Bauer asked.
“They’re one of the biggest suppliers of restaurant equipment,
and we have a Bloomfield coffee machine here. So it comes
your meal, as we did, with good coffee and some sizzling guitar
licks, and you’ll see that a new American bistro concept is
being defined here.