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I don’t know about you guys but when I eat out, I like to make sure that none of my senses is neglected!
Dining out is a sacred experience for me especially on the rare occasion that my kids aren’t present! Getting the chance to eat out without the kids usually involves some combination of luck, careful or advance-planning, or traveling for work. When I do get to enjoy a meal without the presence of children, I savor the WHOLE experience and make the most of every moment!
There’s something that’s so relaxing about not having to negotiate with a picky-eater in public, or trying to restrain a toddler from standing up in her high-chair or not having to check your straw for back-wash when you want to take a sip of your OWN damn drink. I love my kids dearly, I really do, but I LOVE leaving their asses at home sometimes.
On a recent 2-day trip to Philadelphia, I wanted to find a place that was casual, kid-free, served good food, and had a chill vibe. Whenever I make a short trip I always try to squeeze in at least 1 sit-down meal before having to catch my flight home. It seems that every time I visit Philly I am crunched on time and this city deserves so much more than the short 24-48 hours that I usually spend here. After combing through dozens of local restaurants on Yelp and talking to a few people that I knew in the area, I finally decided on a place that checked all the boxes: Blume. Located at 500 Locust Street in Central City, Philadelphia, this place boasts of a cool atmosphere, interesting food and drink menu, and central location.
I was able to spot the place right away. Goodness gracious, this place has amazing curb-appeal. I had read several reviews that described Blume as “the most Instagram-worthy restaurant in Philly” and this place might just live up to its name. The exterior is white brick, with factory-inspired accents like purple industrial lights and pink steel beams. A massive pink and purple butterfly decal covers the front windows and a pink neon sign hangs over the entrance. The décor is vibrant, colorful and fun.
Like the annoying tourist that I am, I snapped a bunch photos before going inside. I couldn’t help it! It was a little after 5pm and the lighting was perfect at this time of day, and I was able to get a few shots in where I wouldn’t have to crop people out.
The inside is more elaborate than the outside. Bright-pink marquee letters are mounted to the ceiling at the center of the restaurant. White planters with green foliage hang from this area of the ceiling and are a sharp contrast against the bold-pink letters and back-drop of purple lighting that illuminates the entire space.
Neon signs grace the walls of both ends of the bar, giving the bar area a nice glow. Clusters of roses adorn the back walls and are divided by turquoise wood panels.
Finally, the front-left hand side where I was seated is surrounded by concrete-looking walls adorned with framed art. The kitchen is near the front of the restaurant and is enclosed by glass. There’s a window opening where the waitstaff retrieves the food from the window. There’s something that gives me comfort about being able to see the space where the food is prepared, so I really like when restaurants have an open-kitchen concept. As someone who worked in restaurants while in college, there’s a part of me that appreciates the bustle and noise of a busy kitchen.
I walked in and was seated within minutes with no reservation. The hostess was friendly and I was given a choice of sitting at the bar or at a table in the front corner of the restaurant. I opted for a table as I knew I would be ordering a few items at a time and needed the space.
Shortly after I was seated I was greeted by my server Alicia, who was an absolute doll. She was sweet, had an upbeat attitude and was able to answer all of my questions about the menu. She came back several times to check on me throughout my meal and not once was I treated like I was one person taking up a two-person table in her section. She was very attentive to her other tables and everyone around me seemed happy with the service. I sat next to a large party and Alicia came over to me a few times to make sure I was comfortable with the noise-level. To be quite honest I didn’t even think they were loud and wasn’t bothered in the slightest way, but it was nice of Alicia to be mindful.
I was given 3 menus: a dinner menu, a drink menu, and a happy hour menu. The impressive drink menu lists about 20 different wines (red, white and rosé), roughly 20 beers on tap, 13 bottled beers and 8 different cocktails.
The dinner menu is divided into 5 categories: shareables (think tapas), salads, sandwiches and flatbreads. There are plenty of meat and seafood items and some vegan options. All are fairly-priced. The most expensive item on the menu is the New York Strip steak at $22. Most of the shareable plates are in the $10-$12 range, and salads, sandwiches and flatbreads range from $11-$18 each. Just a word of caution, small plates and drinks do add up so if you decide to sample a few things like I did, don’t be surprised when your bill comes! I like the experience of being able to try a few small plates so my bill usually comes out to more than if I had just ordered an entrée and shared an appetizer.
The happy hour menu features $4, $5, $6 drinks and bites from 4-6pm, Monday-Friday. There are $4 beers like Founder’s Solid Gold Lager and a rotating IPA. The happy hour menu lists $4 items like local cheese and fried chickpeas, $5 fried cauliflower bites, and $6 mussels. The wines (Pinot Grigio, Sangria and Rosé) are priced at $5 each and the signature cocktails range from $6-$8.
The Food (and drink):
I made it a point to sample at least 1 or 2 things from each menu. I ordered the Paloma from the happy hour menu, because who doesn’t take advantage of half-priced liquor? The Paloma is a pale-pink blend of Altos Plato tequila, grapefruit juice and club soda. It’s served in a Collins glass with a paper straw and garnished with a lime wheel. It was tart and refreshing and didn’t taste overpowered by the tequila.
To start my meal, I ordered the baked oysters from the “shareables” section of the dinner menu. It’s presented in a small cast-iron dish and the oysters are baked in a fennel cream sauce and topped with toasted breadcrumbs and a sliced loaf of bread. If I had to take a guess on what kind of bread is used, I would say sourdough. What I liked about this dish is that the oysters were impressive in size but the sauce really fell short for me. It was a little runny and slightly watery, and lacking in flavor. It was edible but just fell short of my expectations.
Moving along to the next round: Deviled eggs and blistered shisitos and beans. Wow, just wow. The eggs were boiled to perfection and the yolk mixture had a velvety texture that paired perfectly with a bit of lobster claw that topped each egg. The eggs were served on floral-patterned china and sprinkled with paprika. The deviled eggs were well-executed and the combination of flavors really worked.
This next dish was probably my favorite part of the meal: Blistered shisito peppers with roasted green beans.
The shisito peppers and green beans were perfectly seasoned and had a really nice crunch to them. They came with 2 dipping sauces, a miso soy aioli and a spicy chili sauce.
The aioli was the clear winner for me. The texture and flavor really complemented the slight saltiness of the peppers and beans. The spicy chili sauce was also good and delivered a nice kick which I enjoyed as well.
Finally, we arrive at dessert. I couldn’t find dessert listed on any of the menus so I asked Alicia if dessert was an option. She kindly informed that that the dessert isn’t printed on the menu but that my two options were chocolate mousse and a blood orange puree. The obvious choice for me was the chocolate mousse which was life!
It was presented in a small dessert glass (similar to a cordial glass) and was perfectly layered with a dense-chocolate bottom layer, a layer of thick, rich chocolate mousse and topped with a heaping dollop of pale chocolate cream, a crunchy chocolate crumble topping, and a sprinkle of sea salt. This was the perfect cap to my meal and while I don’t think the sprinkle of salt on top was needed, this dessert was still outstanding. The texture and flavor combination was amazing. The chocolate mousse was definitely worthy of being printed on the menu.
I really enjoyed my dining experience at Blume. I was impressed with the unique décor and atmosphere and the food overall was tasty and executed nicely. I think small-plate style menus work well in bars or places where the drinks are the primary focus. The service was upbeat, accommodating and friendly, which I noticed is not always the case when I eat out alone.
Being in a central location is convenient, but surrounding parking lots in Center City are expensive! I would definitely opt to take Uber or Lyft rather than parking in a nearby garage or lot. Not only was trying to find an on-street parking spot next to impossible, I noticed that a lot of the street parking was designated as “passenger loading zones” which only allows you to park for 20-minutes (for free) and requires you to remain in your car the entire time. Parking in Center City looks like it’s heavily enforced, so I don’t suggest trying to park illegally.
Overall I had a great dinner and I certainly enjoyed having me-time before heading back to the airport and back to mommy-life. I don’t always return to restaurants for a second visit when I travel but I wouldn’t hesitate to stop back in for another drink, some shisitos and beans, and that delicious chocolate mousse of course!