gin is a relatively new discovery for me; in australia we're big wine and beer drinkers, less so with the spirits. less so still with the posh spirits like gin. so it's been only since i moved here that i've been on that hype, and let me tell you this: gin is now my jam. tonic, not so much. i find tonic too bitter for my delicate palette, so prefer my gin in a cocktail, or with something sweet like elderflower to make it more drinkable. so when i heard about the specially designed gin cocktail menu at the newest cocktail bar on the scene - bloom, in king's cross, i made plans.
bloom also pays homage to the famous literary greats from "the bloomsbury group" - which seemed fitting in this year of literary heroes, via the specialist gin cocktail menu which compliments the portraits of some of the greats that loom over the tables from the frosted glass windows. and after a brief chat with general manager and seasoned mixologist joel lawrence while he talked us through his menu, we ordered. a couple, because you can never just settle for one, can you?
i went with the prize winning "bloomsbury" (bloom gin, fresh lemon, vanilla gomme, prosecco, fresh berries; £11.50), while ben chose the "the prelude" (hendrick's gin, pimm's, rose liqueur, strawberry puree, champagne; £12.50). mine was definitely the winner of the two, because of the sweetness of the vanilla. to make it up to him, we ordered another round. this time he went for the "to the lighthouse" (gin mare, fresh lemon, syrup de gomme, egg whites; £10.50) and i went with a "bliss and other stories" (tanqueray gin, vanilla gomme, basil leaves, fresh lemon, fresh ginger, ginger beer; £9.50). he definitely came out the winner this time, because check out the artistry on his cocktail - the egg whites were whipped to perfection, and the sour gin was perfectly highlighted by the lemon and touch of bitters. two very happy customers!
feeling rather tipsy, joel escorted us next door to belgo. ok, i should probably interrupt this post to explain something to you: bloom and belgo are both attached to the newly refurbished crowne plaza hotel in king's cross. as in, part of the hotel. so much so that belgo is actually the hotel's restaurant, which was totally obvious from the amount of solo diners in there as we took our seats. at the time we sat down, we were one of two tables of more than one person. i've been to belgo before and can vouch for the food and service, so i know i'd be stoked to check-in to a hotel to find a belgo for dinner, but... i'm not sure why belgo decided to do it. regardless, we were starving, and in no mood for questions.
we took our seats and an already over-crowded table. over-crowded by beer and beer cocktails, which is really the only way i like my tables to be, if i'm honest. a cold bucket sat in the middle of the table, with a variety of empty glasses waiting to be filled, and one fruli mojito (fruli strawberry beer, bacardi rum, lime, sugar, and fresh mint; £8) for each of us. we were there for a beer pairing set menu, and each course and its matched drink were written out on the menu so we knew what to expect. i liked that a lot. especially as it let me know just how much i would be drinking that night... hint: it was a lot.
our starters came out quickly, which was awesome because starving. we kicked off the feast with head-on garlic prawns (£8), cheesy beer croquettes (£6), and a chicken paté (£6.50) with homemade bread. i'm not a fan of paté usually, so hard to know if i liked it or not, but the prawns and the croquettes were both phenomenal. literally, so delicious that they were devoured in not a lot of time. well, long enough for ben to get the mucky heads off the prawns before i ate his fingers as well.
the starters were served with a ruby red beer called lindemans faro (£6.85/bottle) which i wasn't too fond of as it reminded me a bit too much of cider. the waitress tells me this is the point, as they don't serve cider and this beer is their alternative, but, it wasn't for me. thankfully our mains also came out quickly, and were served with my favourite belgian beer: delirium (£5.75/bottle). maybe i love it because of its famous pink elephant mascot, maybe not (it probably is), but the fun transferable tattoos really do sell a drink to a gal like me.
the mains were great; moules served two ways (thai green and classic marinere; £13.50 a pot) and with double cooked frittes, which i've had before and knew i'd love (and i did, again), and an 8oz sirloin (£19) cooked medium rare (but more rare than anything) which i wasn't expecting to be as good as it was after reading milly's thoughts on the dish last week. after all that, we were stuffed.
the tasty flavours from the perfectly cooked moules were still lingering in our mouths, and the sweetness from the delirium was only heightening the taste experience. i'm not normally a steak girl - unless it's cooked right and perfectly medium, but this slightly peppered meat was still bleeding in parts, and yet, honestly it was delicious. we ate and drank everything in sight, yet somehow still had room for dessert...
because when someone puts belgian waffles (£5.50) down in front of you, you say thank you and dig in. served with a chocolate and a salted caramel ice cream, chocolate sauce, and touch of powdered sugar, these were simply perfection. light and fluffy, yet crisp to the bite, they were just the thing we needed to finish of an already epic meal, and close out the drunken evening. oh but then there was the final fruli (£5.75). as if we needed more beer, but when the sweet course is served it's only right that the drink should match. it's the done thing!
bloom & belgo are both now open in king's cross, located just outside the crowne plaza. when are you going?
*we were guests of bloom & belgo, but all thoughts are mine*