| Claim this restaurant
On a recent menu at Bloomsbury Bistro, one of the entree options was (gourmets, prepare to gasp in horror) tilapia.
A freshwater fish known for its low cost, mild flavor and frequent appearance on the menus of ethnic restaurants, tilapia is hardly fashionable, and certainly not what you'd expect to see on the menu of a fine-dining establishment.
John Toler's restaurant at Five Points has quickly gained a reputation as Raleigh's answer to Durham's Magnolia Grill and Nana's. That's high praise indeed, and it's earned with an inventive menu that changes every six weeks or so and rarely misfires. In the spring, that menu might include roasted tomato and stout bisque, perfectly roasted chicken breast with a sweet potato gratin, and pan-seared sea scallops and filet of haddock atop a fragrant, steamy tangle of wilted spinach and fennel. It's hard to go wrong any time of year, though, and your only problem will be making a choice.
It's been several years since our last visit, so when we got a coupon for a free entrée, we jumped at the chance!
Located in the bustling Five points area inside the I-440 beltline of Raleigh, Bloomsbury Bistro is a small, intimate dining room and bar, with linen tablecloths and experienced waiters. The chef "stretches the boundaries of traditional French" cooking by infusing his dishes with ethnic influences from around the world.
To start, I had a grilled tomato gazpacho with jumbo lump blue crab, a scoop of cucumber sorbet and a drizzle of olive oil. Very refreshing.
Also, a lobster ravioli “Thai style” over stir fried Napa cabbage and enoki mushrooms with basil and Florida oranges in spicy red curry-coconut milk broth. Excellent.
#1 had a salad of mixed field greens and garden herbs tossed in blackberry vinaigrette with grape tomato and shaved Pecorino cheese. Light on the dressing and she said it was good.
For her main dish: sautéed NC cobia over a bowl of white corn and shrimp chowder, with apple wood bacon, haricot verts and sour cream mashed red potatoes. The cobia was served crisp on the outside, moist inside, and the chowder was corn-sweet and a great combo.
#2 pigged-out on the warm, whole wheat bread and herbed butter until his entrée arrived: New York strip steak Argentine style with Chimichurri sauce. The chef was gracious enough to allow a substitution for the grilled vegetables and roasted garlic mashed cauliflower, and #2 chose the accompaniment for the cobia (which, I thought, was an even better pairing for his steak): the bacon, haricot verts and mashed potatoes.
The lamb shank had my name written all over it: North Indian style lamb hind shank over toasted almond basmati rice and mashed chickpeas with mint chutney, cucumber sauce and aromatic tomato. I devoured it.
No dessert, two glasses of wine. Total was about $130 for three (before coupon and including tip), which I thought a tad high, all things considered. Better deal: ask for the Tasting Menu. You get two appetizers, two entrees and a dessert sampler of four treats to end the meal. $50 for two. Can't beat it!
Why don't waiters write down orders?! Ours had to come back and verify mine.
Other than that, the meal was flawless. Still cranking out great food since 1995.
Your browser does not support iframes.