During a recent online discussion about classic Raleigh restaurants, Bloomsbury Bistro came up! And it made me realize that yes, this Raleigh favorite had eluded me for years, I was always given the impression that it was a special events/date type of restaurant. But given that I’ve been in the area 10 years, I figured I had run out of excuses to visit Bloomsbury Bistro, date or no date! So off I finally go to dine at an old Raleigh favorite, it must be doing something right after all these years. Let’s go find out what that is…
I’ll be honest with you that even though I’ve lived about a mile away from Bloomsbury Bistro and Five Points, I had no clue where it really was. But it sits in a neat little plaza on Whitaker Mill Road behind the Rite Aid! Simple brick facade with white script lettering, the exterior is a bit deceiving. Inside Bloomsbury Bistro’s small dining room, you’ll find a hostess stand and bar with a nicely mature crowd. The sunny dining room sports a lovely summer mural which gives the space a bright and cheery feel. The spacing between tables is substantial so expect to have some privacy and easy conversation over dinner.
Bloomsbury Bistro has a shorter, eclectic menu that spans the globe: crab rangoon, tandoori breast, Merguez sausage and tea leaf smoked duck. The wine list is also affordable in the $30 to $70 range, we go with a nice sauvignon blanc from Decoy. Scanning the dining room on a Tuesday night, most of the action is at the bar but I’m guessing it all turns around on the weekends. The wait staff is attired in classic black pants, white shirts with an apron. My starter of Dixie style crab rangoon is a plate of three perfectly fried, plump triangles of crab-stuffed goodness! Served with creamed corn and slaw, it’s a wonderful Southern spin on a Chinese-American classic. The crispy pork belly over corn hoe cake also looks fantastic drizzled with some smoky, chili barbeque sauce.
While I was tempted by the tea-smoked duck, I opted for the lamb meatballs and Merguez sausage in tomato curry sauce with couscous. It’s a good looking dish with plenty for color and texture. The crunchy Marcona almonds provide a nice contrast to the savory and spice of this dish. The couscous is cooked perfectly and it’s all very satisfying and comforting. A scan around the table shows off a great Scottish salmon but I have to say the duck looks like the winner entree!
Well since it’s my first visit a Bloomsbury Bistro we finish off with the gooey butter cake, a Midwestern favorite served with pecan, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream! It’s wonderfully warm and rich, a simple but great finish to a sophisticated meal.
All in all I was pretty happy with Bloomsbury Bistro. It struck me as a cross between Plates Neighborhood Kitchen and Second Empire. Slightly more casual than the high-end Second Empire but fancier than Plates. It’s a gourmet restaurant for some civilized conversation, great service and a tasty meal. And it’s certainly a throw-back to a quieter dining room and personal service that’s less common in today’s more hip and raucous dining scene. So great to meet you Bloomsbury Bistro, I think I know the secret to your culinary longevity now…
509 W Whitaker Mill Road
Raleigh, NC 27608