Bloom opened last summer, to much excitement amongst the local foodie scene. Reviews were excellent, and it seemed to be a hit with everyone who ventured through the doors. For some reason, though, we never got around to trying it ourselves. Now, 12 months later, our occasional guest writer Andrew finally got around to trying it and, based on his opinion, it won’t be long before we head over there ourselves!
What do you get if you cross a top chef, a skilled barista and a delightful space in suburban Birmingham? Magic, that’s what!
From the moment you walk in to Bloom, a short walk from the bustling Kings Heath High Street, it’s clear that you’re somewhere a little bit more special than your normal coffee shop. The cool white and grey walls, warmed nicely with light wood tables and flooring, give the place a relaxed vibe. Shelves of plants hint at the name Bloom adding a touch of class.
Ambience is always important, and Bloom excels here, but a place is only as good as its offerings and service. Approaching the counter, I’m greeted warmly by co-owner Alasdair Houston, whose magnificent beard is as much a feature of the establishment as the plants. I ordered a flat white – the best single test of a place’s coffee credentials – while my friend opted for an iced latte.
We took a place on one of the stools at the end of the bar and perused the food menu whilst watching chef Tim Paine working away in the kitchen. One glance at the menu is enough to tell you that this is not your average brunching establishment. Crafted, rather than thrown together, there are options to suit a wide range of tastes. There was nothing on the menu that I felt I wouldn’t have enjoyed, and ordering one of each wasn’t an option, sadly, so between us we opted for the Duck Hash – Bloom’s signature dish – and the Vodka-cured Salmon.
Our coffees arrived quickly – expertly crafted by the barista – with requisite art on top. Taking a sip of my flat white, it was clear that Bloom knows coffee. Hardly surprising as Alasdair has worked in some of the finest coffee shops in the city. In Bloom he may just have created one to surpass the rest. The flat white was punchy, with superb flavours complemented by velvety milk.
A few minutes later our food arrived. Instantly I knew that this was about to become my favourite place to eat. The vodka cured salmon is served on top of a lemon and black pepper scone and topped with a poached egg and a generous serving of spice hollandaise. It’s Eggs Royale, but better in almost every way! The tastes were incredible – mixing together in the mouth in a way I’ve rarely experienced before.
The duck hash, meanwhile, forms the basis of an awesome tower, with spring greens, a layer of creamy sweet potato mash, a huge fried duck egg topped with crispy shallots, all surrounded by a generous helping of delicious duck gravy. Again, the tastes blend together to create a dish that is so confidently crafted that it would be worthy of the menu in any of the city’s fine dining venues.
After the food I felt nicely full, though I did still feel I could manage one of their incredible looking cakes. The Almond and Cherry Bakewell Tiffin was sublime and the slice was huge – but I managed! My friend’s Salt Caramel Brownie, on the other hand, was perhaps a little too rich for an after-brunch dessert. Incredibly delicious but the slice was a little too large to finish – no problem though as it meant he could take some home for later! I washed my tiffin down with a Piccolo which, again, didn’t disappoint.
Having learnt his trade in the capital, Tim has returned to his home city of Birmingham to give us something truly special. Combining very good food with very good coffee Tim and Alasdair have created a relaxed café that stands as a beacon for the rest. In the days when it seems as though blindly following trends is the only innovation – have you noticed that most places are throwing avocado at everything on the menu?!? – it’s great to see somewhere that’s trying to lead rather than follow.
Bloom is open 9am-5pm Wednesday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. The kitchen closes at 2:30pm daily. The food menu changes frequently and whilst the food is not cheap, the quality of ingredients and size of the portions represent excellent value for money. The incredible drinks are priced on a par with those in the rest of the city.
In the interests of full disclosure, I went to school with Tim and Alasdair. My review, however, is honest and not tinted by any collegiate loyalty. We paid full price for our food and drinks and, judging by my observations when I was there, were treated no differently from the rest of the clientele.
Bloom – 32 Poplar Road, Kings Heath, B14 7AA