Jason: The long wait is over. Not just for the renovation of an old Schmidt Brewery warehouse into the gleaming Keg and Case Market, but also for the St. Paul fine-dining showcase from the team behind Corner Table and Revival, Nick Rancone and chef Thomas Boemer. And what a showcase In Bloom is.
Joy: I expected the two-story, concrete-surrounded room to be cold, but the fire and the elegant design touches made it feel welcoming. The smooth velvet in the booths is soft and cozy.
From left, In Bloom partners Nick Rancone and Thomas Boemer
photos by terry brennan
Jason: That 20-foot-long, wood-fire cooktop surface is like nothing I’ve seen in a Minnesota restaurant. Enormous. There’s no gas, no electric—every vegetable, fish filet, poussin, and venison is cooked and kissed by the flame.
Joy: We ordered the venison leg that hangs over the fire to roast. It arrived carved into medallions, and was served with heavenly vegetables—we actually fought over the parsnips—and edible flowers. With every dish, the meat was balanced with these delicate touches. It’s like the old Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom TV show right there on your plate.
Roasted venison leg
Jason: I’ve never enjoyed venison more than the cocoa-scented backstrap. The four perfectly pink medallions of venison loin were firm yet tender, and the chocolate bitterness of mole sauce was balanced by the sweetness of chestnuts. A spectacular dish for $22. The chicken for two dish glistens with a heavy dose of basted butter and arrives with an intoxicating aroma of the fire and rosemary in the stuffing. It gave me all the comfort-food feels.
Joy: Not everything was a hit. The langoustines, such a delicate meat, were lost in a puddle of brown butter. Most dishes arrived at the table cold, and the sauces needed warmth.
Jason: The butter was the magic of that dish, though! The unused parts of the langoustines get made into a butter and set on fire. The result (for me) was a complex, rich butter that echoed and enhanced the flavor of the langoustines. We sat at the chef’s counter bar, so we got it right off the flame. No doubt a cold shellfish butter would detract.
Joy: Maybe we were stuck with the unfortunate location in the corner of the room. All that rich flavor was lost.
Jason: I found cool touches throughout this menu. A venison tartare topped with discs of preserved lemon aioli was more than just beautiful—the hint of acid cut through the tender, earthy meat. Instead of brussels sprouts and root veggies, the “roasted things” were grapes, olives, marcona olives, and figs. Duck hearts were served like escargot: coated with a chervil (an herby relative of parsley) crust.
Joy: Don’t miss the chance to explore the wine and cocktail lists. They are pouring really cool bottles, and the drinks show off expertly balanced flavors. In sum, In Bloom was well worth the wait.
In Bloom Quick Tips
Small lot behind Keg and Case, often packed
A must—the restaurant has been full even after 9 p.m.
Revival Smoked Meats, owned by the same guys, serves barbecue in a corner of Keg and Case
928 Seventh St. W., St. Paul, 651-237-9630, inbloommstp.com