509 Whitaker Mills Road
Five Points, Raleigh
Bloomsbury Bistro is located in a shopping center right near the Five Points intersection in Raleigh. The restaurant is cozy with French provincial coloring and a mural on the back wall of what looks like a relaxed afternoon in the country. The rest of the walls are dijon and salmon colored. It was empty early in the evening but completely filled up by about 7:30. The clientele skewed toward 40 and older.
Chef John Toler’s entrees are French in style, but they meander into Southern, Asian, and other cuisines that liven up the recipes and produce multitudes of quotation marks on the menu descriptions, because nothing is done quite in a traditional manner. The only truly disappointing part of the evening was the uninspired cocktail list, with a lemon drop being about the most interesting drink on the list. For an upscale, inventive restaurant like Bloomsbury Bistro, I expect more in the mixology department. Plus, I really needed a drink that night. Of course, I had some wine to make up for that disappointment.
The first of many nice touches at Bloomsbury Bistro was the herb butter served with the bread. It was very light on herbs; there were just enough to accent the butter’s flavor, making for a lovely spread.
Now, this was a gourmet club outing, so the four of us, as usual, ended up with a huge variety of dishes. The prettiest appetizer was the sautéed black tiger shrimp with stoneground grits cake, served with a collard greens and black-eyed pea salad, peppercorn bacon, and Johnston County country ham vinaigrette.by