Blossom Café is a vegan restaurant – yeah they have those in the city – which serves up average to better than average vegan fare. Just like other cuisines, vegan restaurants range from fast food to fancy and I’d say the Café falls somewhere in the middle (there is another location called Blossom, minus the Café, and it looks like the menu is exclusively fancier entrees). While I’ve definitely had better vegan food before, the meal overall was good. I especially was just excited that my vegan friend and I were able to convince two of our non-vegan friends to come along and give the restaurant a shot, and by the end of the meal we had at least converted our most skeptical friend that just because something doesn’t have meat, eggs or cheese in it (yes I know there are other restrictions) doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious.
Sometime during college I decided that I wanted to be the type of person who ate everything. This was a pretty strong contrast from the same girl who started out as a particularly stubborn, kosher(ish), picky eater (it took me the entire 3 months in Israel during High School to admit out loud that I did in fact like falafel). But your palette changes and new experiences inform the kind of person you want to be. To me, part of being someone who eats everything means just that – it includes eating some pork belly, while also being the kind of person who can enjoy some tofu or seitan. In fact, I think it’s funny that the beginning of my open mindedness to new foods began with dating a vegetarian for 3 years. He honestly introduced me to vegetables and the fabulous world of ethnic food – Indian and Thai, for instance, which are now two of my favorite cuisines. While vegetarians certainly have fewer restrictions, I’ve found that my vegan friends are no different in terms of eating with an open mind within vegan constraints. There seems to be this misconception that vegans are weird and eat different food (ok seitan and tempeh are a little different), but at the end of the day you’re going to find things on the menu that you eat all the time, that aren’t scary, and taste delicious because they’re fresh, and more often than not, really good for you! So open your mind and check out Blossom Café or Blossom and you’ll find that you’re pleasantly surprised.
Crostini Tapas: This comes as 6 crostinis: 2 with hummus, 2 with a spicy black bean spread and 2 with mango guacamole. See… all of those ingredients are vegan and familiar! Though a pretty basic appetizer, it was definitely good. The spicy black bean spread was creamy, as was the guacamole, which did have a nice, slightly subtle mango flavor. The hummus was good too but definitely my least favorite of the three.
Seitan Marsala: Seitan is a wheat gluten that is often substituted for meat in Asian, vegetarian and vegan dishes. This came with steamed broccoli, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, sautéed porcini mushrooms, shallots, fennel, quince jus and potato crisps. This was the dish that I ordered. The seitan itself was really good, the broccoli was perfectly cooked and really fresh and the mashed potatoes were up to par; however, while I liked the dish, I definitely didn’t love it. I thought that the juice was a little too sweet and I think I’ve come to realize that I’m not the biggest fan of fennel. The dish just needed an extra kick – it was missing something. I also still can’t figure out how to describe the texture of seitan to someone who hasn’t had it before; however, seitan is really good and if you’re feeling adventurous enough to try a vegan restaurant, I recommend starting off with a dish that has seitan.
Herb Crusted Eggplant: This herb-encrusted eggplant came atop a crispy polenta cake, sautéed zucchini, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, olive tapenade and a raspberry red wine reduction. My friend who was very skeptical about going to a vegan restaurant, though definitely came with an open mind, ordered this and loved it! I had a bite of the eggplant and it was perfectly cooked and the herb crust was really flavorful. I think this may have been the best dish that we ordered. Also, thank you to the waitress that we had, she was very helpful, answered all of our questions and suggested this dish.
Spaghetti Squash Alfredo: Spaghetti squash, mitaki mushrooms, sautéed garlic, leeks, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, asparagus spears in a cashew cream sauce. The vegan of the group ordered this, and we both agreed at the time that it was a little on the bland side. Honestly, at this point I can’t really remember what it tasted like, so it must have been the weakest dish of the evening.
Grilled Tofu Sandwich: This came on a multi-grain bread with a maple balsamic glaze, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, hummus and soy mayonnaise. The way that I saw this sandwich was that the tofu was there for texture and “depth” and was used as a means to carry the other flavors in the sandwich, which were great. The avocado was fresh and the balsamic glaze tasted good. My friend’s only complaint was that the sandwich was on the dry side.The sandwich also came with some of the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. They were just so good, specifically the crunchy ones!
Chocolate Chip Cookie: Not the best cookie in the world, but definitely a pretty good vegan substitute. We concluded that it tasted a lot like the Keebler Soft Batch cookies. It’s definitely worth giving a try!
Blossom Café: 466 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY ($$)