If the recent couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that we’re no longer constrained to the typical working mode. Some of the pandemic pressures have affected us in a negative way, but there are others we should be happier to embrace: shorter days, compressed weeks or working more from home have given us a little more flexibility in our lives. And while CBD venues might be suffering from a lack of (former) city workers dining out, the suburbs seem to be exploding with new culinary opportunities.
Bloom is a converted warehouse in Thebarton that is tucked neatly behind the old West End Brewery site, with views over the Torrens. But this is not your typical ramshackle conversion. The designers have given it a new lease of life to create one of the most beautiful, bright and functional spaces I’ve seen in a while.
With clear vision and passion, Bloom has introduced a new kind of eating to diners of the inner-west, as shown by the crowds that spill out of the venue, into the attached pavilion and out onto the nearby lawns every weekend.
The chefs’ cooking makes the most of a central wood-fired oven and grill, and diners can watch the action from the well organised central dining area that offers a mix of seating options in design-centric surrounds. And while Bloom is open all day from Wednesday to Sunday, I’m here to tell you about the latest, most important meal of one day in particular: Bloom’s Bottomless Friday Brunch.
The Bloom chefs are responsible for brunch selections and they’ll determine the menu of the day and the order in which you’ll eat it. No qualms from a table that is happy not to make decisions so early in the day and is quite busy deciding whether coffee or Bellinis are the best way to kick things off. Obviously, the consensus is both.
The first round of snacks is an introduction to the simplistic but full-flavoured style of the Bloom kitchen. A selection of salumi including thinly sliced salamis and bresaola is splashed in good olive oil and sprinkled with crushed pistachios, and then a warmed bowl of mixed and marinated olives is followed by a plate of roughly hewn artichokes that have been licked by flames and doused in a delicious truffle and rosemary-infused oil. Antipasto can often be a little same-same, but not here. Each bite comes with its own unique yet complementary flavour.
Next, a sizzling cast iron-pan lands and we’re hit with a sweet and pungent aroma that can only mean one thing: Bloom’s signature haloumi has arrived. The sweetness is from honey, still searing the golden base of two generous slices of squeaky cheese that are coated in a melange of not-so-secret herbs and spices. Sumac gives its typical light bitter and tangy seasoning while thyme provides a floral and zingy counterpart. Roasted pinenuts balance this delectable act with their earthy, woody flavour. This is a dish I’ve ordered before and will order again. And again. But instead we order another round of Bellinis – this is a bottomless brunch, after all.
As the mid-morning rolls on, we move onto some more main-style dishes that show there are no hard and fast rules with brunch at Bloom; it is simply here to showcase the best of the restaurant’s dishes, and we’re not disappointed.
Next comes chicken and chips, but not as you know it. The crispest kipfler potato segments have been fried golden. These are coated in curry-flavoured salt and sit on a pool of creamy labneh. Slivers of pickled lemon impart a strong zingy citrus that cuts through the oil, and lightly fried curry leaves provide texture and another intense but pleasant herbaceous aroma and flavour. I appreciate a kitchen that isn’t afraid to use strong ingredients and flavours in dishes, and when it comes to herbs and spices, more is definitely more.
A butterbean paste forms the base of Bloom’s wood-roasted chicken dish, providing a solid sauce that would stand on its own as a dip. A thick and sturdy flatbread has been cooked over coals, its smoky and golden exterior breaking apart to reveal a fluffy centre with specks of spring onion. A surprising amount of flavour comes from the sauce; this green masala offers heat and spice that packs a delicious punch thanks to its typical combination of chilli, curry and other Mediterranean seasonings.
Over-cooked on purpose, puffed rice topping the chicken dish offers crunch and more flavour to each bite. The chicken itself is the highlight of the meal: the boneless segment is sliced to reveal a tender and juicy centre that has absorbed a smoky flavour all the way through.
Salad can be an afterthought, or an addition made to add a little colour to a combination of chicken and potato, but not here. Fresh cos leaves are splayed on a plate and topped with shaved fennel. The lightest of dressings has been splashed across the lettuce and another strong herbaceous Mediterranean-style spice mix is sprinkled on top. This isn’t just a side dish, but one that adds something extra to this series of plates. A salad with purpose, if you will.
And with one final (dessert) Bellini, our bottomless Friday brunch at Bloom is complete. And fortunately, we’re just in time for lunch.
38 Winwood Street, Thebarton
Open Wed-Sun 8am-4pm
Bloom’s Bottomless Brunch is offered every Friday between 8am and 2pm and is $70pp including a set menu and two hours’ worth of bottomless Bellinis or tap beers.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.