this place isn't lacking in concept. there's a little market and cafe in front, a compartmentalized dining room, a bar area, and i guess eventually a downstairs area. and an alley window for service is supposed to be available sometime soon. all these zones, if you will, seem to have different menus. the dining room itself has a front area, a curtained table for larger groups, a table made of limestone that's separated from everything else...and right next to the bathrooms...and a glassed-in back area that's supposed to be more quiet? potentially romantic? so there's a lot going on.
okay, so. the food. in the dining room, there was one vegetarian plate offered. the server offered it vegan, which was a nice touch. let's hear it for the vegans! i'm not exactly sure what everything was that i ate, but it included black rice, purple yam with toasted coconut, some kind of greens, tofu, haricots, roasted cherry tomatoes, a wheat berry dish, and...something else with little beans. and some other roasted vegetables.the black rice was described as "sticky," but it didn't seem too sticky to me. just kind of there. the purple yam mash was a pleasant surprise, since i'm not much of one for yams. toasted coconut really set it off. the wheat berry salad was very tasty. the cherry tomatoes weren't presented very well, what with the skin sliding off, but the other roasted vegetables were very good. the rice and beans at the bottom of the plate didn't leave much of an impression. green beans? not my favorite, but that's no one's fault but mine. the server had said that there would be cellophane noodles, but i guess they needed those for something else? the tofu was...just a square of tofu with sesame seeds and a negligible sauce. too little to taste. the only descriptor i could come up with at the time was "grainy." between the four of us, we shared three desserts, so i got most of this pie to myself while brian enjoyed half a piece of chocolate cake. the pie had a thick, biscuity crust, which wasn't what i expected, but wasn't bad, either. do people out there eat whipped cream with apple pie ala mode? if you do, friend, good on you, but it seems a *little* over the top. like buttering the bun on your bacon burger. my meal matched my impression of the restaurant; a lot going on at once, and a little confusing. i hate to say it, but without a soup or salad, i went home a little hungry. there were a lot of items on that plate, but not much of anything. the cherry tomatoes should give you a sense of scale. lesson learned; get a starter. i wish there had been a vegetarian option that didn't seem like a concession. i didn't feel that a lot of thought and care went into my meal; it was more like everything in the kitchen that wasn't meat was carefully portioned onto a plate. in a town like bloomington, that just doesn't cut it. vegetarians and vegans aren't second-class gastronomes. my vegetarian friend highly recommended ordering from the tapas menu - the pizzas are supposed to be great. maybe next time we have a little cash injection or some celebrating to do, we'll drop in on the bar and see what's happening over there. and i can't wait for the alley window to open. i won't base my only opinion on a restaurant based on one meal on a busy saturday night just after opening, but it seems like there's some fine tuning to do over there. your impressions?