Saturday, October 17, 2009
The Runcible Spoon
As a part time job, (read: weekend job), I work at a fantastic little restaurant called The Runcible Spoon. Named after a line in the poem, "The Owl and The Pussycat" by Edward Lear, The Spoon, as we call it, epitomizes the artsy progressive vibe my college town of Bloomington, IN is known for. The Spoon is commonly thought of as having the best coffee in town not only because the owners are nothing short of coffee- connoisseurs, but also because the beans are roasted on site, right in the restaurant.
The food is outstanding and real, and though they serve meat, there are several vegan and vegetarian options.
Below is an article I wrote reviewing them some years ago that appeared in the Indiana University student newspaper, the IDS.
A Home Away From Home
By Jenna Blumenfeld
Upon entering the house-turned-restaurant Runcible Spoon, I felt as though I had been invited there for dinner. My friend and I were invited to sit where we pleased; choosing a pair of worn armchairs snuggled in the corner of a room. The peppy hostess greeted us like we had been friends for years, and all of my anxieties of college life trickled away from me.
Rustic homemade meals are characteristic of Runcible Spoon head chefs David Nash and Matt O’Neil, harkening back to simpler days before fast food and all you can eat buffets. The ingredients in the lunch and dinner menus are quite simple and few, but they sure do pack a punch.
We began our meals with soup: I with the black bean vegetable, and my friend with the tomato garlic and basil. Served with lightly toasted, super-dark pumpernickel bread, our starters were brought to us promptly by our charismatic waiter. Though the black bean soup was decent, it lacked the zesty and sweet-spicy vigor of the tomato soup. Consequently, I kept mooching spoonfuls of the tomato soup from my friend, losing myself in its melting pot of flavors, while the black bean stood abandoned.
Our two entrees were equally delicious. Craving lighter fare, I went with the “Veg Plate”: a succulent blend of piping hot seasonal sautéed veggies, piled high over a bed of lightly fried potatoes, which tasted almost like the hash browns Runcible Spoon is famous for in its breakfast menu. The flavors of the vegetables worked well together, blending carrots, onions, zucchini, spinach and tomatoes that burst in my mouth when I bit them, releasing their fruity juices. The plate was topped with the freshly chopped basil found in the tomato soup, adding another dimension of character to the dish.
My friend ordered a burger for his meal. As savory and juicy as they come, layered with lettuce, onion and tomato; sandwiched between toasted buns, you wouldn’t even know it was a veggie burger. Entitled the “Spicy Black Bean Burger”, the hallmark of American barbeque cuisine is made over into a healthful, grease-free alternative that preserves all the rugged allure of its beef counterpart, without the gastro-intestinal sorrow. And for an astronomically low price of $4.95, we felt almost guilty for getting so much satisfaction out of the dish.
To finish off our dinner, we wallowed in the sexy, sultry richness of the Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake. Generously cut, the cake was drizzled with two different types of chocolate, and flanked by massive mounds of fresh whipped cream. Make sure to have a cup of in-house roasted, fair trade coffee the café-section of the restaurant serves, because you will need something strong to match the depth of the cake.
Though the food was outstanding, the eccentric character of the Runcible Spoon would keep me coming back again and again. Nowhere else do friendly conversations regularly leap from table to table nor do Celtic musicians hold their band practices in the side room. The people who eat there are fixtures of the restaurant, and it has true potential to be a home away from home.
So if you ever find yourself wandering through Bloomington, Indiana, starving and fixin' for a good meal, The Runcible Spoon is the place to go. Who knows, you might even bump into me!