Bloom opens Tuesday, July 17 in Wynwood, but partners Jose Miguel Sarti and Sebastian Stahl are gearing up for the restaurant's first anniversary. "We've been working on the space since last August", Jose Miguel told me yesterday while walking me through the space.
"We knew we wanted to look in Wynwood because of the art scene. We knew we wanted to open a space that integrates art and food. This was the first space we saw and that was it. We knew it was right. We just got lucky."
The space, however, wasn't exactly as it is now. To make the small
warehouse on 27th and N. Miami Avenue into a restaurant, there was work
to be done, including breaking through a wall into the next door space
to make room for a kitchen and planting a mature oak tree in the center
of the patio.
The small space is bright and cheery, filled with
colorful photographs of flowers and street scenes taken by Sarti. A
large mural of the Volcan de Agua in Antigua, Guatemala dominates the
outside patio. "We plan to feature local art on the walls and rotate the
pictures," Sarti tells me.
Sarti also takes time to explain the
menu concept. Why a mix of Asian and Latin American street food? "Other
restaurants have blended Asian and Latin flavors before. Nobu, Sushi
Samba, and Asia de Cuba come to mind. There are also many smaller
Chino/Latino restaurants. In Guatemala, where I'm from, we're used to
eating from carts and street vendors. I've had some of my best meals
from there. We wanted to take those flavors, those experiences, and
bring them inside."
The food, mostly small plates ranging from $8-$15, does just that.
Executive chef, Ricky Sauri and sous chef Sergio Rivera were busy in the
small kitchen, firing up plate after plate. I managed to sample some
dishes and cocktails along with the staff, who were tasting dishes as
part of a training session.
Cuajitos, a corn tamale topped with hog tripe, is one of the more adventurous dishes at Bloom. Sarti told us he's looking forward to having people try new items and talk about them. "I know many people aren't used to eating hog tripe, but they just have to try it. It's really delicious." It was, by the way. Much more delicate than expected, the tripe tasted like extremely rich pork, with a velvety texture.
Crispy sweet and sour shrimp, paired with apple jicama salad, was very crisp, with just a hint of spice to compliment the sweetness. The jicama salad is a bright, refreshing compliment to the bolder flavor of the shrimp.
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The shitake enchilada will please both vegans and carnivores. A pumpkin tamale is topped with shitakes and covered with with nut and natto "cheese" sauce, made from cashews.
Tequila Beets, made with fresh beet juice and a sprig of rosemary, is one of the cocktails created by mixologist Chris Hudnall for Bloom. The drinks utilize some of the same ingredients as the dishes, so don't be surprised to find bok choy in your glass!
Bloom will be open for dinner only, starting Tuesday, July 17, from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Lunch service will start in the fall, with weekend brunch following shortly after.