I’ve never been one to seek out vegetarian restaurants for the simple reason that most of my friends eat meat. It’s not my style to impose restrictions on anyone’s diet because I’m all for indulging in whatever you crave, and I’m used to adapting, evaluating the tastiest vegetarian option among the usual few on most menus. Which is why, when Nina Paley of Sita Sings the Blues fame (really great movie; I can’t wait till my dad sees it) suggested we eat at Blossom, I was intrigued, and yes, a little bit wary.
The food at the few all-vegetarian restaurants I’d visited a couple years back (Grasshopper in Allston, Kate’s Joint in New York) was memorable in that it was never memorable. The dishes I ate always fell short of being actually tasty; more often, they elicited a response of “Hmph. So…fake turkey…” a reaction which is neither here nor there. Anyway, this is to say that I didn’t know what to expect at Blossom. I knew it served upscale vegan food that got good reviews, but still, I like my cheese.
I was late to dinner because of a series of unfortunate events :). But the soft-lit room and gentle music were calming and Nina and my friend Nikita were waiting for me, chatting.
We decided to split everything three ways, thus giving us a chance to try more dishes. Because here’s the glory and trouble with vegetarian restaurants: I can order from the whole menu! It takes much longer to pick my dinner when I have 15 appetizing choices instead of just 5. We ordered the Blossom Duo, Black-Eyed Pea Cake, and Ravioli with Cashew Cream Sauce to start, and the Carnival for our entree.
The Blossom Duo is a combination of Oyster Mushroom Tempura and Seitan Water Chestnut Potstickers. The tempura was very salty and very oily. I was a little taken aback at how quickly the crispy skin dissolved into strong tastes of oil and salt. I don’t remember much about the potstickers.
But the Black Eyed Pea Cake was delicious- I want a recipe. Its moist outer crumb melted into a savory, Indian-spiced blend of yukon gold potatoes and black eyed peas. Mmm, this appetizer was like an aloo tikki with creamy chipotle aioli…
The Ravioli with Cashew Nut Cream was so very decadent. The sauce, again, reminded me of an Indian dish, Shahi Paneer, in which cubes of paneer float in a rich cashew gravy. I first had proper Shahi Paneer when I was studying abroad in Udaipur. My host mother, who was Punjabi and ran a catering business, made it for me. I was in cashew cream heaven. The same would have happened at Blossom except for the fact that the ravioli was most definitely cold. Cold cashew cream over cold pieces of spinach ravioli is still good, but hot would have been infinitely better.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Carnival, which was 5 rectangular logs of bumpy tempah covered in a sadly bland “mojo” (a Cuban sauce made of sour oranges, garlic, and other spices) sauce, and served with four fried balls of potato surrounding a tiny mound of sauteed kale. This dish was also cold, but unlike the cashew cream, the Carnival wasn’t tasty enough to overcome its unfortunate temperature.
But our desserts lifted our spirits. Seductive and attractive, they delivered on the taste.
This might be shocking, once you remember that these are vegan desserts. Tofu cheesecake? Well, I was surprised, too, that the texture was creamy and thick, like regular cheesecake, with a semi-sweet graham cracker crust.
I love fruit tarts. In Blossom’s Banana Maple Tart with Strawberries, the strawberries and bananas were snugly tucked inside the tart so it resembled a flower of fruit with built-in nectar of maple. But I thought the maple was too subtle and I wanted more of it; I lost its taste halfway through eating it.
This was the sexiest dessert- too bad it was overwhelmingly chocolatey. It looks hot though…I would definitely date it.
Blossom is at 187 Ninth Avenue, b/w 21 and 22 streets.