Bloo 88

September 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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I was a regular fixture in Rise’s beer garden in my uni days, perfecting the art of making a glass of house white last all afternoon, so I was surprised to discover that Bloo 88 wasn’t next door to Rise as I’d previously assumed, but had actually replaced my old haunt on West Street. But is it a change for the better?

First impressions are that the place has undergone a major overhaul: the interior is now all exposed brickwork and rustic tables, but the old open pizza oven is still smoking away in the corner. On the Saturday afternoon we visited, the number of reserved tables caught us off guard. If you’re planning to pop in on a Friday or Saturday evening, you need to book in advance to guarantee a seat. We hadn’t booked, but luckily still managed to score a table, where we immediately launched into the cocktail menu in search of refreshment after the arduous trek here (and by arduous trek I mean the walk from The Wig and Pen around the corner…..)

Cocktail connoisseurs will find all the old favourites at Bloo 88: Mojitos, Cosmos, Mai Tais and Martinis, but there are a few unusual options too, including a Vanilla Laika (named after the first dog in space, apparently!) and a Brazil-inspired Passion Fruit Batida. The cocktails are fairly priced, with quite a few coming in at a reasonable £4.95, with the added promise of two cocktails for £7 if you visit during happy hour.

We settled on a Bramble (£4.95) and a Godfather Sour (£4.95.) Despite being cheaper than many other Sheffield cocktail bars, Bloo 88’s concoctions did not disappoint. My Bramble was sweet and fruity, without being in the least bit sickly, and packed a boozy punch. The garnishings put the city’s more expensive cocktail bars to shame, as mine arrived topped with a juicy blackberry and a fresh black cherry. This sealed the deal and had me running back to the bar for a second serving of Bramble goodness (got to get my five a day!)

Not to be outdone, the Godfather Sour was served in a funky little jar, topped with a whole raspberry and plenty of crushed ice. It tasted every bit as good as it looked.

Expectations high after our lavish, alcohol appetizers, we turned our attention to the food menu. Bloo 88’s speciality is pizza, which doesn’t sound particularly exciting at first, but rest assured even their ‘classic’ pizzas feature unusual toppings like baked egg and pine nuts. If you’re feeling adventurous, Bloo 88 have some speciality pizzas too, including the intriguing ‘Shanghai Surprise’ topped with shredded duck, spring onions and hoisin sauce, or you can throw caution to the wind and build your own pizza from an impressive list of ingredients.

Starved, greed got the better of us and we opted for two twelve inch pizzas – the Mediterranean (£8.95) and Brunch (£8.95.) Our food arrived quickly and, to our delight, we saw that Bloo 88’s presentation skills aren’t restricted to cocktails. Instead of arranging thinly-sliced toppings evenly across the base, Bloo 88 scatter thick, chunky toppings, and then seem to cook them wherever they fall. This gives the pizzas a very homemade, rustic appearance.

Biting into my first slice, I discovered a generous wedge of melt-in-the-mouth, warm goat’s cheese – a perfect pizza, from the very first bite.

As well as goat’s cheese, the Mediterranean toppings included cherry tomatoes which had that delicious, lightly-grilled tang, spinach, roasted garlic and slabs of portobello mushroom. I’d wolfed down half of this scrumptious pizza before it even occurred to me to try adding some sauces. It turned out Bloo 88 did have plenty of sauces to compliment their pizzas, but they were tucked away on a trolley in the corner, along with the cutlery and napkins. The staff hadn’t asked whether we wanted any sauces with our meals (or cutlery and napkins, either) and hadn’t even told us about the trolley. After the bar staff pointed me in the right direction, I returned to the table armed with sauces and cutlery, but this should have been pointed out to us earlier.

After experimenting with a few sauces, I can definitely recommend a few splashes of the Tabasco for hot-heads like myself. Bloo 88’s thin base and fiery Tabasco is a match made in heaven. The rest of the pizza disappeared in no time.

But it wasn’t all about the veggie pizza; the intriguing-sounding ‘Brunch’ pizza turned out to be a bumper meat-feast of parma ham and italian sausage, with the same perfectly-cooked cherry tomatoes and mushroom wedges, but with a baked egg in the centre giving this pizza a real ‘wow’ factor.

Although our reviewer initially complained about the lack of runny yolk, once they’d chowed down on a calorific forkful of baked egg, cheese and pizza base, they quickly changed their mind and started raving about the egg instead. The parma ham had the crispiness and crunch of bacon (and who doesn’t love that?) and the italian sausage delivered a hit of salty flavour. Another massive thumbs up for Bloo 88’s grub.

Stuffed from twelve inches of pizza goodness, we asked for the bill only to discover that classic pizzas are 2 for 1 all day, every day – what more could you want? It’s difficult to pick fault with Bloo 88 – the surroundings are welcoming and rustic, the cocktails are delicious and presented with flair, and the pizzas are cheap, delicious and guaranteed to leave you scanning the menu, plotting what you’ll order on your next visit (Florentina and New Yorker pizzas, in case you’re interested.) The staff could be a bit more attentive and check whether you’ll be needing anything else with your meal but really, fetching your own Tabasco is a small price to pay when the pizza is this good.

If you love pizza or cocktails, then Bloo 88 is your new favourite haunt. The loss of Rise wasn’t such a big deal after all.

Highly recommended.

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