3 stars for eclectic eats at Bloom in Wynwood
Living in New York City in my 20s, I was sure I had two black thumbs. Though my parents were expert at coaxing sugar cane, carambolas and even grapes from our North Miami yard, I could barely keep a pot of basil alive. Somehow, that changed when I returned to the subtropics, where I have managed to grow a virtual garden of Eden in my pocket-sized plot.
I say this by way of explaining why it gives me such pleasure to see young restaurateurs nurturing their first eatery, which has sprung up like a wildflower in Wynwood.
The flavors pop, sparkle and just about dance across the table. That was the idea, according to Guatemala City natives Jose Miguel Sarti and Sebastian Stahl, who hired Nobu veteran chef Ricky Sauri to create their vision of vibrant Asian and Latin American street food. Friendly, well-trained servers add to the easy vibe, as does a hip soundtrack that veers from Passion Pit to Evan Voytas and occasional live bands.
Ambience: The aptly named Bloom, on the site of the old Dorissa dress warehouse, is surrounded by a hedge of shiny clusia and accented with plants throughout. A tree grows through the roof of the stone patio, which is anchored by a long bar with a dozen stools surrounded by about as many white tables with white molded chairs. Photos and paintings of flowers and landscapes add anime-like pops of color.
- Pork belly ramen - rich dashi broth loaded with tiny sleeves of bok choy, colorful pinwheels of kamaboko (pink fish paste), perfectly poached egg and slippery noodles
- A fantastically light arepa sandwiching tender, slow-roasted duck accented with sweet tamarind sauce, avocado, micro greens and a spicy mayonnaise
- Guatemalan-style braised oxtail tamale with rice steeped in coconut milk
- Chicken tsukune (sausage meatballs) in a sweetly salty yakitori sauce
- Mostly perfect tiraditos and ceviches
- Neon-bright sockeye salmon ceviche with toasted Peruvian cancha and a bracing, chile-spiked tomatillo salsa
- A bright nectarine and spinach salad with edamame sprouts, earthy black-bean dressing and jicama shredded into linguine-like strands
- An aggressively seasoned panang curry with sweet and snappy lightly cooked little shrimp
- Luxurious huancaina sauce over firm chunks of white crab meat
- Surprisngly tasty teok boki - spicy little rice cakes the texture of gummy mochi with a tangy, chile-flecked red sauce and bacon cashews
- Tuna seaweed tacos - a nice enough dice of raw tuna and sesame flanked by sheets of Korean nori
- A rainbow collection of cocktails by the talented Chris Hudnall, including the Eastern Garden with fresh arugula juice, fennel syrup, Spanish bitters, rosemary and gin
- Well-priced and handled standard wine and beer options
- Shaved ice bombs
- Coconut flan
- A fat jar of bread pudding floating in warm, cinnamony corn atole with crushed chocolate Whoppers and vanilla ice cream
What Didn't Work
- Awkward octopus ceviche
- Pumpkin enchilada sprinkled with shiitake mushrooms and doused in a bland and dense "cheese" sauce of ground cashews