We celebrate Earth Day to recognize everything the earth gives – water, resources, shelter, and – best of all – food. To give back to the earth this year, consider dining at Chicago’s Bloom – whose core focus is doing good for the earth – for healthy and flavorful plant based food from a variety of cuisines.
Whether one is vegetarian or not, Bloom creates vibrant and affordable food that caters to everyone. The food draws inspiration from all across the globe – from Latin America to Asia to America.
Before you even enter Bloom, you will feel the buzzing social scene of Wicker Park, where the entire street is filled with bustling restaurants and unique shops. With floor-to-ceiling windows that open in the summer, Bloom invites the exciting energy into the restaurant.
Bloom creates an earthy and simple atmosphere with hanging succulents draped across the white brick walls. Elements of wood and pops of color bring modernity back to Bloom’s rustic design. Despite the affordable price tag, the vibe feels elevated with elements of fine dining.
The Lottery Peppers – which have shishito peppers, lentil hummus, ginger tamari glaze, and sesame seeds – were a light and peppery beginning to the appetizers. Bloom plates the dish purposefully with different layers of color and texture. The garnish of sesame seeds and pea shoot greens not only contributes to the design elements but also adds a satisfying crunch to each bite.
In this fresh bowl of flavor, the smoothness of the lentil hummus and the crunch of the peppers create a perfect harmony of texture. Flavors of nuttiness from the hummus and spice from the ginger overpower the dish, but the sweetness of the peppers occasionally comes through.
The next appetizer, and the most innovative one, is the Beet Dumplings, which replaces the typical dough wrapping with folded beets in a windmill shape. This healthy alternative contains a sunflower spinach filling, tahini, coconut ginger foam, and garlic chips.
The filling is extremely light and airy, which wonderfully complements the crunchy radish and garlic chips. Covered in a salty sauce, the dumplings bring flavors of freshness, sweetness, and tanginess. Each dumpling can be eaten in one bite, where you will taste this unity of flavors all at once.
To finish the appetizers, the Potato Tostones, arriving at the perfect warm temperature, melt right in your mouth. Covered in créme fraiche, scallions, kelp caviar, and mixed seeds, the Yukon gold potatoes feel smooth and creamy. In contrast to the previous appetizers that mixed a variety of textures, the Potato Tostones have pleasant conformity to its texture.
Other than the creative topping of kelp caviar, this dish does not innovate anything new. However, baked potatoes are generally a favorite for most and will successfully deliver satisfaction – time and time again.
Throughout the appetizers, rather than attempting to mimic the flavors of meat in its dishes, Bloom reinvents plant-based food to create new and powerful flavor combinations.
The main course strongly delivered on the same success of flavors and textures of the appetizers. Starting off the entreés, the Asada Taco – containing a hemp seed corn tortilla, forest mushrooms, CBD lime crema, pickled red onions, and salsa macha – delivers a traditional Mexican flavor profile with unique elements of freshness.
Bloom takes an uncommon ingredient in tacos – the pickled red onions – and makes it the center of the dish. The onions deliver a tangy yet strong peppery taste, that pairs fantastically with the sweet mushrooms and crema. Topping the dish off with cilantro and thin shaves of radish brings back Bloom’s earthy component.
The Sundried Tomato Sashimi uniquely combines elements of Japanese cuisine with the classic French technique of puffed potatoes. Within the dish, the puffed potatoes, sundried tomato sashimi, truffle avocado, kabayaki, and serrano chili generate the favorite dish of the evening. Plated like typical Japanese-style sushi, this dish presents an exciting surprise.
With the first taste, the sashimi – which feels soft and jelly-like – and the potato will taste sweet with small notes of truffle. Then, the strength of the serrano chili takes over in the aftertaste with an intense kick, enticing you to take another bite.
The Caribbean Jack dish – with braised jackfruit, yuca monofogo, burnt vegetable demi, and sundried tomato chimichurri – was a flavorful way to end the evening. As the name foreshadows, the dish tastes like a tropical and sweet vacation. The excellently ripe jackfruit takes the center stage and delivers a juicy and fresh taste. Yuca monofogo adds a creamy texture to the crunchy jackfruit but is relatively tasteless.
Bloom’s flavorful plant based food is good for the earth – and good for you too.
Bloom is located at 1559 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Visit their website at https://bloompb.com/index.html.
Annika Srivastava is a food critic for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl