My decision to try out The Dubliner 100 Top Restaurants was put to the test again on Saturday night. Without consulting any reviews, or even my other half, I went and booked Bloom Brasserie on Baggot Street. I phoned on Friday afternoon and there was no problem getting a table for two for 8:00 p.m. . The restaurant is in a basement in a premises next to Donnybrook Fair. We arrived punctually and were given a choice of tables. There were a few other diners seated already and lots of sturdy ‘church’ candles flickering on the bar, and at the tables, struggling to create ambience.
The waitress brought us the menu. I thought the selection was reasonable but that the prices seemed a bit high. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the chef used to work at D’Ax – a restaurant I knew was good. However, himself was not a too impressed. He deemed the range of starters to be satisfactory but he struggled to find a main course that he really liked.
When the waitress arrived to take our order I asked her if there were any ‘specials’ on offer besides what was written on the menu. Surprisingly, there were none. We gave our order. Unusually, we both opted for the sweet potato soup and the waitress told us that it wasn’t available and that the soup of the day was mushroom. Without re-checking the menu I ordered the foie gras (a shocking €15.00) and my other half ordered chicken livers on toast. For mains I opted for the tuna and himself ordered the duck.
I am lazy about the wine and I usually leave it to himself to order. He thought the wines were overpriced when compared with prices in other restaurants and he was a bit annoyed about that. Worse was to come. He ordered a Loire Red, a Gamay, and the waitress told us straight up that this wasn’t available any more. He had to start over with the wine list and he asked if other wines were off the list and she assured us that there weren’t. He ordered a Fluery. Another waiter brought us some fresh bread and butter and a bottle of chilled tap water. Our original waitress returned to check what we had ordered as our main course. The alarm bells started to ring – I thought something else would be ‘off” the menu but she had merely forgotten the order. There is a reason that waiters and waitresses the world over have pad and pencil! Someone ought to tell her that.
The bread waiter returned with his sommelier hat on. The Fleury was also unavailable and he had stopped ordering the Gamay because customers “didn’t like the way the grapes were pressed”. I was stunned into silence because I never heard such an excuse and I really can’t imagine what he actually meant. I should have pressed him but at this stage the evening had been sabotaged and I was starting to lose interest. Our only hope was that the food might be good. Our third, and final, wine selection was a Chateau Ollieux Romanis Corbierre, 2008.
Both the starters came with toast – one miserable, thin slice of demi-baguette. We had to ask for more bread to mop up the tasty juices. The main courses arrived. My ‘Sesame Seared Bluefin Tuna’ was served with ‘Spiced Carrot Purée and Baby Pak Choi’ and a side dish of potatoes. The puree was too thin but the other vegetables were good. The tuna was really disappointing. I was expecting something similar to the photo on the right. Sadly, what I got was an overcooked, thick hunk of tuna that lacked flavour. Hubby’s confit of duck was ‘all right’ according to him.
We were offered the opportunity of taking a break before ordering dessert and we took a fifteen minute break before ordering desserts. I went for the creme brulée and himself went for apple crumble. The creme brulée wasn’t outstanding. I liked the fact that it wasn’t adulterated with fruity flavours but the brulée didn’t have the distinctive burnt flavour that I hoped for. The apple crumble wasn’t sensational either. Interestingly, there was still Christmas pudding on the menu but we heard other customers being told that, in fact, it was ‘off”.
The bill came to €112.00.
In all honesty I could not recommend this restaurant and I cannot imagine why the authors of The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants include this place in their list. It has all the signs of a place that is on the way out and I’d be surprised if it stays in business.