Stepping into Bloodroot is like stepping into the ’70s, and not the ’70s of “Three’s Company” and high-water, crush-velvet bell-bottoms: This is where the matriarchs of feminism (lesbian feminism, to be precise) reside, and have for the last 32 years, serving up vegetarian delights in a veritable shrine to the heyday of the women’s movement. Shrine might be the wrong word, because second-wave feminism is alive and kicking within Bloodroot’s quilt-and-ancestral-photo-laden walls; and while it might not have the edge or chic of contemporary queer culture, Bloodroot’s brand of collectivist feminism has a tremendous appeal.
For those not enticed by the prospect of making a pilgrimage to the old stomping grounds of Adrienne Rich, Gloria Anzaldua and the like, Bloodroot has plenty else to recommend it. The restaurant sits on the Long Island Sound at the end of Ferris Street, in Bridgeport. A front yard, patio, bookstore and meeting room make Bloodroot more of a compound than a restaurant, and make eating at Bloodroot feel like a miniature vacation.
My most recent trip there was for Sunday brunch. There were six of us, and in the spirit of collectivity we ordered one of everything from the menu and shared. Bloodroot’s menu changes every three weeks (they serve seasonal produce) and is written on a chalkboard above a large counter that stands between the dining room and the kitchen — you place your order with a woman sitting at the front and pick it up at the counter when it’s ready. Sunday’s menu included vegan peach pancakes, oyster mushroom quiche, a Spanish omelet, scones, soysage, home fries and vegan chocolate devastation cake to finish the morning right.
Bloodroot’s dishes are simple and fresh-feeling. The pancakes were the meal’s highlight. Never has fruit been treated so well by the batter surrounding it: The peaches practically sparkled. The soysage was surprisingly tasty — only two per order, though, so be careful if you’re sharing with a big group! I’m not a chocolate cake-lover, so the cake didn’t do for me what it did for my brunch companions, but I believe it when they say it’s incredible. I was full long before the meal was finished, full near to bursting, but I was pleasantly surprised when an hour after I got home I found that I wasn’t feeling comatose, but rather light and full of energy.
If you have a car, or manage to find a friend to drive you, make sure you take time to chat with Selma and Noel, original members of the Bloodroot collective and owners of its current incarnation. You can talk about Catherine McKinnon, or you can talk about growing vegetables. They are vibrant, knowledgeable women.
If you can’t make it out to Bridgeport, you can find some of their recipes online at bloodroot.com/recipes.htm. Or you can splurge on one of their cookbook/manifestos, “The Political Palate” or “The Best of Bloodroot.”