Bloomsday Café, a bright, spacious, inviting eatery, opened last month on 2nd Street in Society Hill. Taking the place of Café Nola, which was rarely open and never busy, the new café breathes a welcome energy to the cobblestone corner.
Billed as a “modern meeting place open morning, noon, and night,” Bloomsday seems to be riding the wave of the all-day dining trend that has taken the city by storm in the form of places like Hungry Pigeon, Walnut Street Café, and Res Ipse. This is not to suggest that Bloomsday is a copycat; they have a unique, fresh approach, which, in the short month they have been open, has attracted a loyal local following.
But first the space—marked by bright green exterior doors and an attractive historic façade, Bloomsday seems to showcase the elements as part of its décor. A modern gas fireplace serves as a dramatic focal point in the center of the dining area, and the rear corner is, for lack of a better term, a floor to ceiling terrarium. The moss covered wall, which is watered by a sprinkler system every hour or so, is a uniquely decorative feature.
Bloomsday touts it laser focus on quality and craft, prioritizing local purveyors and responsible sourcing. They pour coffee made from beans by Rival Bros, a Philadelphia-based, small-batch specialty roaster; loose tea from Near & Far, yerba mate and kombucha on draft. Top notch pastries are baked in house daily; croissants, plain and chocolate; elephant ears; muffins; and other specialty selections per the inspiration of the pastry chef.
Breakfast offerings include a hearty egg sandwich served on a brioche bun, a chia pudding bowl doused with housemade granola and fresh seasonal berries, eggs your way, a polenta bowl, and patatas bravas, that Spanish creation of crispy potatoes with spicy red peppery sauce.
The latter two make their way to the lunch menu as well; the polenta bowl, which is vegan, is made from red cornmeal, topped with broccoli rabe and roasted carrots. Mushroom French Dip, another vegan selection, is served on a roll that would make a South Philly nonna proud, came with a salty broth for dipping.
While Bloomsday gives plenty of love to its vegan clientele, there are other options on the menu. The chicken ciabatta sandwich, a boneless breast of grilled chicken, is served on a chunky roll with roasted peppers. Avocado toast, also on both breakfast and lunch menus, is an excellent version of the dish, which appears to be its very own food group for millennials. The lone salad, which features classic mixed baby greens and veggies, is accompanied by smoked bluefish. I am a bit skeptical that this item will remain on the menu long term; bluefish is not a soft sell for many diners, so I suspect the chef may swap bluefish for something a bit more accessible.
Bloomsday bar offers craft cocktails and are serious about the building blocks — they even make their own vermouth. But at present the restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, so at this point, I have not had the opportunity to partake. Their bottle shop, a handy addition to a neighborhood that lost its state store to yet another CVS, focuses on natural wines and has an extensive list of natural wines made by small producers who farm sustainably.
Bloomsday is certainly worth a visit for breakfast, lunch or brunch, and I am eager to explore their dinner menu … more to come on that soon!
If you go:
Bloomsday Café 404 S. 2nd St (corner of Stampers, St., between Pine and South)
Open every day from 7am-3pm for café service, bottle shop is open until 8pm. Evening hours coming soon.