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Bloom Restaurant - Review

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Bloom Restaurant in Bloor West Village opened on Wednesday night, and my wife and I ate there last night. Recommended. Here are our impressions:

Atmosphere: relaxed; music at a pleasant background level to keep the overall noise level down; simple but comfortable tables that are spaced just far enough apart to allow for a sense of privacy.

Service: a little too deferential (lots of "sirs" and "ma'ams") but it beats the all-too-common alternative of nonchalance; timing was a tad slow but I'm sure that can be attributed to opening-week kinks; a couple of the principals were on hand and they clearly care about making Bloom a neighbourhood success.

Food: medium-length menu packed with interesting choices; appetizers in the $7-$14 range, mains in the $20-$28 range, desserts $7 (cheese option slightly more); overall quality very high with portion sizes that were just right; we had:

Duck liver ravioli in marsala sauce (appetizer, $9) - wonderfully thin pasta with smooth filling that let you know it was liver without being overwhelming; balanced sauce was savoury and sweet at the same time; excellent.

Bison tenderloin with creamy orzo and a sole crustacean (billed as "scampi") that seemed to be a langoustine (main, $28) - very tender meat served perfectly medium-rare; orzo added a nice texture; scampi properly cooked and served in the same sauce as the ravioli.

Pork striploin in a reduced cidery sauce topped with softened green apple in a small, very light pastry (main, $20) - meat perfectly cooked (again) and quite tender considering the cut; a bit too salty; pastry was an unusual but tasty accompaniment, with the apples suiting the pork.

Chocolate almond torte with blueberry compote (dessert, $7) - needs a bit of work; cake had good chocolate and nut flavour but given that it was prepared in the undercooked style it should have been served warm instead of at room temperature; was definitely too small for sharing.

Wine: very short list lacking names known for top value or quality; two whites and two reds by the glass, all $9 with smallish pours; most, if not all, bottles $40-50; reds served at room temperature.

Overall: Lemon Meringue should expect to have some empty tables, with this new player in the 'hood. The food is very good and, given the prices, the value is excellent (good luck finding bison tenderloin for $28 anywhere else in town). Hopefully the wine list will improve once Bloom hits its full stride.

Final tip: Groups of four should ask for one of two round tables semi-surrounded in thin white curtains - the one in the middle of the restaurant being best.

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