Organic vegan cuisine and a chic atmosphere are rarely found together. Blossom is located in an historic two-story building in Chelsea. The design is light and airy though rustic hints like the dark wood bar and fireplace give the eatery an established vibe. The hearty vegetarian chili topped with vegan cheese and tortilla chips is a menu staple that takes away an evening chill. The curried South Asian lumpia bursts with seitan, potato and mango-onion sambal. For brunch, dig into the savory scrambled tofu served with spinach, mushrooms, white onion and soy sausage. While eating and conversation go hand in hand above the soft background music, the sweet desserts such as the apple cinnamon sticks with a brandied caramel sauce deserve your full attention.
It’s a familiar tale: Despairing of finding a vegan restaurant to satisfy their culinary and aesthetic requirements, erstwhile co-owners Pamela Blackwell and Ronen Seri decided to open their own. This candlelit restaurant named Blossom, is equipped with a fireplace, a private dining room upstairs, and organic wines and beer. The meatless menu spans the globe with dishes like Port Wine Seitan with herbed mashed potatoes, Cape Cod Cakes, and Decadent Chocolate Ganache.
2006 Noting – Blossom offers an elaborate vegan menu all in a tranquil, warmly lit setting.
F. Fabricant 2007 Noting – This uptown branch of the Chelsea original is also vegan and kosher, with enough on the menu to satisfy the raw food contingent. F. Fabricant
BY IRENE SAX 2006 Review
I went to Blossom for lunch with one vegetarian and one omnivore who was, by the end of the meal, decidedly grouchy. “It’s not that I want a steak,” she grumbled as we stepped out onto Ninth Ave. “I want a sundae. With whipped cream.”
They don’t have sundaes at Blossom, a calm, draperied and even romantic new storefront cafe in Chelsea. What they do have, according to the menu, is food that is “Organic-Dairy Free-Vegan-Vegetarian” and “First and Foremost Animal Caring.”
Somehow, all that manages to translate into well-seasoned and surprisingly lusty food. Suspicious at first, I was won over by spicy vegetarian chili made with black beans, corn and vegetables and accompanied by crunchy herb-sprinkled corn chips ($7). The “Living Asian Salad” tossed slender strips of carrots, peppers, cabbage, scallions and sprouts in a creamy cashew dressing with citrus undertones. And both the seitan skewers and the cold sesame noodles that came with them were bathed in a sweet thick Thai peanut sauce ($9). No apologies, I realized, were needed.
Grilled pizza with strips of caramelized onions and red peppers laid over what seemed to be real, not faux, mozzarella cheese ($12), Linguine tossed with tofu, broccoli rabe, tomatoes and olives tasted reasonably Italian ($14), and the pressed sandwich packed with marinated and grilled mushrooms and roasted red and yellow peppers ($12) were all great.
We shared two desserts, a creamy chocolate torte ($8) and a “napoleon” made of three super-thin wafers filled with dabs of apple and cranberry. With it, vegan vanilla ice cream. Did we fight over that lone scoop of ice cream? Of course. It’s easy to make fun of the menu’s high-mindedness, but if you’re a vegetarian – or even better, a vegan – one meal at Blossom will make you want to eat there every day. And if you’re not, you can still have a good meal.
Blossom Restaurant was honored two years in a row (2008 and 2009) as New York City’s Best Vegetarian Restaurant by the readers of Time Out Magazine. Below is our acceptance of the 2009 award.
WINNER! Eat Out Awards 2008 & 2009
Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Blossom
OTHER NOMINEES: Candle 79, Broadway East, Counter, Dirt Candy, Caravan Of Dreams. The tag line for Blossom—“Gourmet organic vegan cuisine”—is enough to set off anyone’s pretension meter, especially with $20 entrées (“Twenty bucks for vegetables?” asked one diner recently). But there’s a reason this candlelit den has won two years in a row: It’s that good. A ravioli-with-cashew-cream appetizer proves to be a layered surprise—first the cream (mmm) then the pine-nut filling (mmm!), while the proteins wow: The crispy Thai tofu features lightly fried soy lavished in a tomato-coconut sauce. Twenty bucks for vegetables? Yes, please. BLOSSOM 187 Ninth Ave between 21st and 22nd Sts (212-627-1144) TONY
REVIEWS 2006 – For cautious carnivores, Blossom offers one big surprise: All the eggless pastas and mock meats actually taste pretty good. For vegans, it’s a candlelit godsend. Guiltily dreaming of veal scaloppine? Try the pan-seared seitan cutlets, tender wheat gluten served with basil mashed potatoes, swiss chard, a white-wine caper sauce and artichokes. Vegetarians have indeed found a great date place. TONY
2007 – There’s a reason feijoada—a Brazilian beef stew—contains meat: It’s a beef stew. So when a vegan place like Blossom offers a “lighter version,” made with smoky tempeh, black beans, chayote and sweet potatoes, you’re allowed to be skeptical. But those animal-friendly ingredients make the hearty dish taste that much better. Upscale while keeping its crunchy cred, the Chelsea restaurant does protein right: Try the satay (with seitan), the scaloppine (more seitan, with white-wine caper sauce) or the dancing curry (tofu and veggies, served with popcorny forbidden black rice). You can’t go wrong—but you already knew that. TONY
Autumn sweet-potato rolls with coconut and jicama.
2008 – Amid the recent chatter of an Upper West Side dining boom, a portion of the excitement has been reserved for the arrival (finally!) of the creative vegan (and kosher) sister spot to Chelsea’s Blossom, CAFE BLOSSOM. Striving for a sleek, hip vibe—low lighting, high-gloss wooden floors, flickering votive candles—the atmosphere falls a bit short, however, Blossom’s got its priorities straight—the food is the star. The eclectic menu, like that of its downtown originator, is diverse and exciting, with plenty for meat-free risk takers and safe-soy scarfers alike. A hearty (but not heavy) black-eyed-pea cake appetizer, is built with peas and potatoes and topped with zingy chipotle aioli, while another starter—autumn sweet-potato rolls—was a raw-food stunner. The fat pinwheels had strips of meaty coconut, jicama, red pepper and carrots rolled into an orange slice of sweet potato, creating a burst of flavor that lingered in my taste memory for days. Entrées were equally successful: Lemony, caper-studded seitan scaloppine was lip-smacking, even to my seitan-hating dining partner, while a harvest casserole was a toothsome serving of tomato-and-tofu mash and layered winter veggies. A chocolate layer cake hit the perfect balance of richness and sweetness. Sinful cake and virtuous meals done right? Now that’s what we call well-rounded. TONY