Take Bliss as it is for coffee, wine,...

Take Bliss as it is for coffee, wine, good food

There are 71 comments on the Baltimore Sun story from Aug 3, 2008, titled Take Bliss as it is for coffee, wine, good food. In it, Baltimore Sun reports that:

When I say new, I mean really new. Bliss is one of the first tenants in the new Riverside shopping center.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Baltimore Sun.

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Sarah Ortiz-Brown

Alexandria, VA

#1 Aug 5, 2008

I'm Sarah Ortiz-Brown, the owner of Bliss Coffee & Wine Bar. I'd like to start off by thanking you for taking the time to come into Bliss and seeing what we have to offer. As you stated in the article, we do have a few kinks to work out and we are definitely doing that at this time. We invite you to come back another time and enjoy our food.
One of the most interesting things about the article has been our location. You would not believe the number of e-mails and phone calls I've received from "irrate" individuals telling me that I'm not in Bel Air. Trust me, I'm fully aware of where we are located. It certainly is not my choice to be designated as Bel Air. Harford County planning and zoning, as well as the U.S. post office have designated that side of Rt 7 as Bel Air. Not only are we listed as Bel Air but so are Cracker Barrel and the two hotels next to us.
If at all possible let the readers know they should be yelling at Harford County government, not me and my staff.

Thank you.

Sarah Ortiz-Brown/Owner
Bliss Coffee & Wine Bar, LLC

Essex, MD

#2 Aug 22, 2008
After a not-so-good first experience with Bliss, which I attributed to the newness of the restaurant and staff, I decided to give it another chance a few weeks later. Much to my chagrin, very little had changed. The food leaves much to be desired, and the wine selection is fairly typical for most restaurants in the area. As a Bel Air resident who is excited for this type of atmosphere, I was disappointed by the ego of the chef, the laxity of the staff, the nonchalance of the owner, and the pedestrian menu. My first visit entailed a lengthy wait to even order a glass of wine (someone was too busy slicing oranges), followed by soggy bruschetta (the bread was not even toasted), followed by no one asking if I would like to follow up with a meal or another glass of wine (back to slicing oranges). Frustrated, I wanted neither of these things anyway and left, filled with disappointment. Not to mention, my plate wasn’t cleared until I practically pushed it off the bar. The chef isn’t fooling me. I can’t imagine that much of the menu items are homemade, given the one-dimensional flavors and the bland tastes. If anyone reading this has ever worked in the restaurant business, we have memorized the flavors of Sysco products.
My second visit, rather generous after the aforementioned fiasco, was a replay of the first. The owner was visible behind the bar the entire time I was there; however, she only spoke to people she knew, as was much the case with the wait staff, who tend to chit-chat with their colleagues or the regulars, and wait for you, the customer, to initiate the next step in the drink or food ordering process. The chef enjoys striking up rapports with the customers, but is hasty in judging personalities, and in fact, can be rather rude when it comes down to it. For instance, a customer suggested that the large flat-screen TV in the middle of the bar showing Olympic wrestling was a distraction to the overall atmosphere of the wine bar. When so mentioned, the chef referred to such a comment as “bitchy,” when in fact the intention was to make a helpful suggestion (supposedly welcomed by the staff, except, of course, if it is a negative comment). Another customer ordered sangria and, as I watched it being poured out of the $8 bottle, I wondered just how complicated the sangria-making process could be to the effect that Bliss would not make it themselves. Bottled sangria with sliced fruit tossed in it does not equal the essence of homemade sangria. As suspected, the chef came out to ask the customer about it, and she asked if they ever make sangria themselves. After a condescending lesson on the origins of the word “sangria”, the chef replied that they do. Her reply?“So, you pour the pre-made sangria out of the bottle, do something to it, and pour it back in the bottle? I’m confused.” The owner, a witness to this conversation, had no input or defense to this, other than an offhand and indirect,“You should be.”
I suppose my point is that you never know who you are serving when someone walks into your restaurant, so the best solution is to treat all your customers as people you want to see again if you would like to remain open. A chef who has nothing useful to say should stay in the kitchen. An owner who stands behind the bar but only speaks to people she knows should stay in an office, and a wait staff who clears plates and serves people when it is convenient for it should probably work at the MVA. I chose to go to my favorite local restaurant for dessert after another--and final--negative experience with Bliss. I struck up a conversation at the bar, and most of my fellow patrons, who had also visited Bliss with optimism, agreed—Bliss will not last another 6 months.

Washington, DC

#3 Aug 23, 2008
I tried it once, and thought that the place has some potential, but my experience was identical to the post above. Overall a major disappointment for a restaurant that really has a great concept, and would fill a void in the current restaurant selections.

I think they will either figure it out or cater to the transient community in the near by hotel.

Overall grade- D.

Belcamp, MD

#6 Aug 30, 2008
Oh - and Jennifer, did you offer to buy your friends drinks if they'd hop on and write their useless reviews that are similarly pathetic to your own?
Come on down to Canton children, we know what you like to drink...we'll mix it special for ya...

Belcamp, MD

#8 Sep 2, 2008
i've been twice. we did meet the owner on our first visit - she blew us off on our second visit tho like we didn't even exist - just walked around in her fuzzy slippers scowling at everybody and being followed around by some spikey haired woman with a bigass bandaid on her toe.

Bel Air, MD

#9 Sep 3, 2008
I've been twice and a good friend has been 3 additional times. All 5 visits have been marked by lackluster to poor service. I went opening weekend and was willing to cut them some slack for the lack of attention. I went the last week in August as well and had to request every glass of wine and every dish (even sitting at the bar). Same experience for my friends. Even calling ahead and chatting with the owner didn't give her tinely service. Not worth the time or energy to try it again.

Baltimore, MD

#11 Sep 12, 2008
bliss will go the route of so many other places of its type. It'll be boarded up inside of a year...
Jennife is a homophobe

Belcamp, MD

#12 Sep 15, 2008
Jennifer and friends - are you done trying to bash this place yet?
You're insignificant and unwelcome most places you frequent - and yes I do know you. Personally.
Former Harford Countian

Clarksville, MD

#14 Sep 17, 2008
Ladies and Gents,

What a shame.... I have to admit I was excited to see that someone had the "capital" to open my dream restaurant. It's just a shame I have heard nothing but bad.... I was afraid of that, considering the location that the "owner" selected. Come on - who would ever think that the idea of a wine, coffee, etc. restaurant would find a GREAT business in the Belcamp area. Yes, that is where it is. And no I am not putting down Belcamp. I have two very important members of my family who live there! But really, restaurants only have ONE main ingredient to make it work - LOCATION!!!! I only wish that I had the capital because I would have definitely opened an outstanding wine bar in the Havre de Grace/Aberdeen corridor. Not far from Bulle Rock maybe. But dang, SHAME on the owner, chef and wait staff!!! Definitely not the way to make a business work. And please, what the heck is all the personal attacks about???
Debbie Gibbons

Ridgely, MD

#15 Sep 20, 2008
I have been to Bliss four times for lunch and twice for dinner. Every experience has been great. As a matter of fact I will dine there tonight with friends. All the staff has been very nice and we have had no complaints about the food.
There are lots of other restaurants around so maybe some of the complainers can go there and leave a table for us at Bliss. We will be back!
Melly Mel

Havre De Grace, MD

#18 Sep 29, 2008
I love it here. Jennifer musta been having an off day - and by the subseequent positive posts, I'm thinking she might be a negative nelly...
I have been to Bliss at least a dozen times - always on Fridays or Saturdays...love love love the food, totally dig Sushi (the bartender) and will continue to frequent Bliss on a regular basis.
Pooh on Jennifer.
Bliss is Piss

Owings Mills, MD

#19 Sep 30, 2008
Ugh, I wouldn't eat there if they were giving away food. What crap! It's funny how all these positive posts come from all of the owner's "girlfriends" that her husband doesn't know about.

Aberdeen, MD

#20 Nov 7, 2008
I really liked this place. The food's good. Ate at the bar. Nice people there. Good wine list.
What's not to like?
Bliss Blows

Abingdon, MD

#21 Nov 7, 2008
What's not to like? The haughty attitude of the owner and her model-wannabe employees acting like c*nts.

Baltimore, MD

#22 Nov 12, 2008
I have gone to Bliss several times for different meals (lunch and dinner) during the period of time it has been open. The food has always been wonderful and service great no matter if we are at the bar or a table. The service staff has always been very attentive and the owner makes time to stop by to make sure all is well. I am just glad such a nice restaurant is available. Not another chain. This restaurant has my vote! It is nice to drive a short distance instand of heading downtown for a nice meal and glass of wine.
Used to love it

Edgewood, MD

#23 May 2, 2009
I've been going to Bliss since it opened and sadly I have to say, the place has changed...well, some things have changed, other's - thank god - remain the same.
Here's what hasn't changed...the owner, sarah, is not a people person at all and she's lucky she has waitstaff like Kelsy, Chavon and bar people like Susan and Joey. If it wasn't for them, this place would probably self distruct. As an owner, you can't sit at the end of the bar, make flip and belittling comments to and about your employees within earshot of your patrons. Susan is a knowlegable and likable person behind the bar, yet I don't think Ive ever heard her say a nice thing to or about her. I've heard sniping remarks about all her employees as if they don't matter. I was apalled to see her make one of her waitresses cry...right at the bar. In front of everyone. I'd stinking quit.
What is different, is the menu. It's a little more put together, tho over priced in my opinion. They have great music in the place - sometimes - Beyond Blue is a great jazz band and they bring the place up a notch. Come to think of it, it's the only time the owner acknowleges people and acts like an owner of what could be an up and coming restaurant.
Bottom line, I loved it when they opened. Everyone did. But I don't now.


#24 May 9, 2009
just from the reviews I do not think I will go to the Bliss...Thanks for the warning.
Save yourself

Edgewood, MD

#25 May 20, 2009
They can't keep a chef in the kitchen to save the life of the place and the food is horribly inconsistent because of it. That is NOT the only problem tho.
Dismissive management propped up at the bar with their tough sh*t attitude is beyond pathetic. Have another glass of wine "ladies", it's really a thing of beauty really. And for god's sake lose the flip flops and shorts...fine dining my ass.

Abingdon, MD

#26 May 20, 2009
Bliss is the worst. The owner and management have these haughty attitudes that their $hit don't stink. And I agree w/ the previous poster, learn how to have your wait staff dress appropriately. If I wanted to have my food paraded around by a bunch of wannabe hookers, I'd go to a titty bar.

Edgewood, MD

#27 May 20, 2009
I recently moved to Aberdeen from Glenwood Springs Colorado. I went to Bliss this past Thursday, thinking I would join fellow wine lovers for a great meal and a good glass of red wine. I assumed wrong! I asked for lamb chops, no lamb chops...I asked for 2 different Merlot's, They had neither, I then asked for Grenache, and guess what??? They didn't have that either!!! I will not down the wait staff, The bartender Susan greeted my husband and I with open arms but the Service from a bartender does not make up for a Owner's poorly run restaurant!! The owner needs to shut down business A.S.A.P before unsatisfied customers do it for her!!

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