Russ Bendel Opens Fifth Chef-Driven Restaurant in OC

December 02, 2022

The newly opened Bloom Restaurant + Bar in San Juan Capistrano marks the fifth restaurant for owner Russ Bendel and his partners: chef Jared Cook, beverage director Gabe Whorley and operations VP Kyle Simpson. Their sister restaurants include Vine in San Clemente; Ironwood in Laguna Hills; Olea in Newport Beach; Sapphire (& The Pantry) in Laguna Beach.

Bloom is located in the historic Ferris Kelly building, which served as the original City Hall in 1930, across from Mission San Juan Capistrano. Unique touches include a commissioned oil painting of the four partners by local artist Rich Flynn. SJC-based Mattson Creative designed the Bloom logo which features the city’s famous swallows cleverly woven into the leaves of a single bloom. 

The dinner-only restaurant will unveil weekend brunch in 2023. 

“Over the course of a couple of years, we looked at many sites in South County for our next restaurant,” Bendel said. “It was always a dream to be in San Juan Capistrano and this was our favorite possibility but a historic building presents challenges. It is beyond gratifying that we were able to make it happen—incredibly right across from the Mission.” Bendel is such a fan of the community that he and his family became SJC residents last year. 

Executive chef and partner Jared Cook created new dishes for a chef-driven American bistro approach. Hamachi and Mexican white prawn ceviche, crispy zucchini flowers with creamy Manchego cheese and roasted garlic, BBQ Texas ranch quail and French melon and endive salad with duck prosciutto are among the starters. New entrées include pan-roasted Idaho Rainbow trout, applewood bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and crispy Pacific sand dab po boy fish sandwich. 

Overseeing the kitchen will be chef de cuisine Holly Hart. Beverage director and partner Gabe Whorley will unveil a comprehensive beverage program at Bloom of 10 craft cocktails, two mocktails, 22 wines by the glass, and six beer offerings including “Four Amigos - Shift Beer,” a Mexican lager with citrus notes and a light malty finish. It is brewed exclusively for RJB restaurants by All Craft Direct. The four founding partners are featured on the label. Favored to become signature cocktails are Whorley’s “Ortega” – tequila, Aperol, mint, serrano, lime, grapefruit with a Tajin dusted rim and tamarind treat and “Daily Affirmations” – vodka, yuzu, lavender, prosecco with a POG popsicle garnish. 

As in the other RJB restaurants, herb garnishes are personally harvested by Whorley at the Vine garden in San Clemente. 

Open Monday – Thursday – 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Friday – Saturday – 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday – 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Weekend brunch 2023, Saturday and Sunday at 10 am).

31760 Old Mission Road, San Juan Capistrano. 949.503.2654

Greer's OC
Blogger | Journalist

Since 1993, Greer has been writing about fashion, dining and trends in Orange County, as a popular columnist for the Los Angeles Time Community Newspapers (Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and HB Independent) and now as founder of Greer’s OC.

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