Blooming Grove Inn

Trenton Times – 1/29/15

Blooming Grove Inn in Ewing embraces history, ‘casual fine dining’ in renovation.

by Martin Griff, Times of Trenton

After years of being covered up, the fireplaces have been reopened and restored, and are giving off plenty of warmth in the dining rooms of the Blooming Grove Inn.

The fireplaces are just one of the renovations by owner Steve Jordan, who took over the former Paulie’s Anna Rose in Ewing in February of last year. He also removed green paneling and exposed the brick walls of the circa 1865 inn to create what he calls a “casual fine dining” venue.

When he chose to buy the inn, he embraced its long history. Created in 1741, it was called Blooming Grove Farm, and included 250 acres, Jordan said. In the early 1900’s it became the Blooming Grove Inn, located on what then was called Blooming Glen Road.

Many locals recall when it was called Mary Marks’ Ewing Manor, and later when it was Lieggi’s Ewing Manor. Then it became Paulie’s Anna Rose, which it remained until Jordan took over.

For years, the restaurant has been known for its Italian cuisine, but the menu is now evolving, Jordan said. While Italian dishes remain, “we’re transitioning into a more continental restaurant,” he said, with a menu designed by chef Mike Sujansky.

We started our meals with the soup of the day, $7, a Blooming Grove salad, $7, and an arugula pear salad, $8. The hearty, warming soup was chicken noodle with chunks of white meat and plenty of vegetables in a flavorful tomato-based broth.

The Blooming Grove salad combined fresh greens with diced bacon, chopped egg, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cheddar cheese and the tangy house Italian dressing. Meanwhile, pears, mandarin oranges, raisins and an orange honey dressing offered a sweet contrast to the pungent arugula in the arugula salad.

From among the entrees we sampled the braised beef short ribs, $29, chicken aglio, $19, and the seafood fra diavola, $23. The beef was tender and flavorful, raising a homespun dish to a much higher level. Served over a mound of roasted garlic mashed potatoes, it was accompanied by a side dish of porcini truffle root vegetable ragout.

The seafood fra diavola was a nicely spicy marinara sauce filled with tender calamari, fresh shrimp and lumps of crab meat. Served over linguini, this was a hearty, filling dish for any seafood lover who enjoys his marinara on the spicy side.

The chicken aglio was a heaping bowl of penne topped with grilled chicken, baby spinach leaves and slivers of roasted red peppers. Finishing it was a delightful olive and garlic white wine sauce, which was light and flavorful with just the right touch of garlic.

Only one of the desserts is made in-house, and that’s the one we tried. The banana cream pie, $7.50, had a basic crust layered with bananas, creamy custard and a whipped cream topping. This is a lovely dessert, not too sweet and big enough to share. We would have liked a few more bananas, though.

Jordan has expanded the bar list to include more wines and liquors, although he sees his restaurant as more of a dining destination. He has live music every weekend, and we were treated to an excellent singer/keyboardist the night we were there.

The Blooming Grove Inn is a welcome addition to the Mercer County restaurant scene, offering another venue for those in search of casual fine dining in a lovely setting. Like its predecessors, it should be in for a very long run.