No doubt about it, this is the place to go now!…
“When the first two major food influences in a young chef’s life are his grandmother and the late Anthony Bourdain, you know the food is going to be interesting”, writes Janice Binkert for Culture magazine. I had the good fortune to photograph a few dishes from the innovative James Bloomfield in Alliance, a contemporary small eatery in the Warehouse Market of Traverse City’s historic factory district for Culture this past January. What I saw really impressed me!
The restaurant itself has a scaled down, urban industrial vibe- complete with Edison bulbs in the fixtures and exposed metal air ducts. The ash wood tables warm up the dining room, as do the copper stools and copper bar top. This is what the Warehouse Market is all about; industrial, contemporary and visual.
If you walk into the Warehouse Market just off of Hall street, you’ll pass Blk/Mrkt coffee shop, Wood + Cloth, a home furnishings store, Waara Technologies; a sound and tech company, Relish; a hip clothing store, and Grey Wolf Creek; an warm and inviting antique lighting store before you reach Alliance. All of these shops merit closer inspection, and I love the matcha at Blk/Mrkt! If you are coming across the street from Blue Indigo, the restaurant faces their driveway, so it’s a short walk from the hotel and directly into Alliance. Either way, it’s an accessible location and it caters to a wide variety of clientele.
James and his talented Sous chef Bekka Snook share a similar love of cooking with locally sourced ingredients. Theirs is a partnership that goes beyond the kitchen, but the first task here, is to feed the patrons, but without a doubt, a kismet chemistry between the two chefs is reflected in their innovative dishes.
The day that I arrived, Bekka was purchasing some beautifully perfect mushrooms from a local vendor Grand Traverse Mushrooms for dinner later that night. They were beautiful and no doubt delicious. But, since I was photographing cheese, I wasn’t sure that i would see these beauties in their plated form.
I love cheese myself, and I was hoping to get a few cues on what I could expand on in my own repoitre Culture is a great specialty food magazine that features cheese, all kinds of cheese. These two innovative chefs have a love of cheese and use cheese frequently in their ever evolving menu. I had a job to do, and a few dishes that were on the list to shoot. So, ready as I would ever be, I asked James to go ahead and prepare the few dishes that I was there to shoot. First on my list was a salad, a delicious compilation of greens, cheese and nuts. The flavors melded together like a short story punctuated with crunch. ( Can you tell that I work pretty diligently on my wine tasting notes?)
There are delicious dishes throughout the restaurant, but these few dishes that feature a delicious cheese really take on a more nuanced
What is Zohlrabi, btw? I was wondering if this was a typo from my editor, but she assures me that it is not a typo and is a real thing. I imagine it is a relative of kohlrabi, a wonderfully crisp tuber that shows up on innovative dishes around Traverse City. The little green leaves of mint and the red pimento looking item add a nice touch of color- I mean flavor! The pears are luscious and sweet, but this isn’t a dessert. It’s a warm salad, and it’s delightful.
The local carrots have been especially beautiful this year and I have eaten quite a few myself. Their beautiful orange color swimming with the cheesy sauce and the nuts creates a color pallete that sits beautifully in the dining room. Although, I realize as I think about it, that most any dish would look gorgeous against this backdrop.
I have to admit, this dish was my favorite to photograph. I loved the interplay between the deep red color of the beets laid over the white canvas of yogurt with a small drizzle of olive oil and all of those lovely green sprigs of herbs. This was a canvas, and a beautiful one at that.
Like most foodies, I was looking forward to the dessert plate, with cheese. And I was not disappointed. James and Bekka prepared a buttery and crispy pop tart with a spoon of ice cream with some shaved cheese on top. Bekka worked deliberately on placing just the right dollop in just the right spot .
I wish I could provide a recipe to share. But these recipes belong to James and he isn’t about to divulge his secrets.
And then again, you could always pay a visit to Alliance, order what you love and sink into the warm hospitality that is Alliance.
Open 5-10 pm. Thursday through Saturday and 11am for Brunch on Sunday.