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At New York’s Blossom a Luscious Vegan Garden Grows

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— January 31, 2017

At New York’s Blossom a Luscious Vegan Garden Grows

  • Blossom, a New York organic, kosher and vegan eatery, wins on visuals, texture, and taste on most of the healthy array of dishes—both faux dairy and meat—that we recently tried at its latest venue, on Columbus Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
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Eating vegan food that is meant to mimic its non-vegan counterpart (say, a burger) is often like watching a science fiction movie—you’ve got to suspend disbelief. There are just too many variables—look, texture and, most importantly, taste—at play when consuming vegan food. Blossom, a New York organic, kosher and vegan eatery, wins on visuals, texture, and taste on most of the healthy array of dishes—both faux dairy and meat—that we recently tried at its latest venue, on Columbus Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Blossom, the brainchild of vegan restaurateur Ronen Seri, strikes the perfect balance by combining white wine and a thicker cashew paste to make a flawless “cheesy” cream sauce for its Butternut Squash Gnocchi. The dish bursts with a carnival of flavors: spinach, basil, red and yellow tomatoes, chives, roasted pumpkin seeds, and beets. A Savory Seitan entrée, with pan-seared seitan cutlets, white wine, rosemary tomato sauce, roasted potatoes, haricot verts, and garlic aioli, would please any chicken parmigiana fan. And the “cheese” drizzled over our asparagus side and adorning our nachos appetizer (tapioca in the latter case) raised the profile of those dishes nicely. The vegan cheese, like the real deal, even melted to the wooden serving tray of our pizza.

At a table next to ours, a patron cooed over a “bacon cheeseburger,” with tapioca cheddar, soy bacon, grilled mushrooms, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and chipotle aioli artistically placed between a full-bodied sesame seed bun.

Among the superstars on the Blossom, menu are its desserts. Blossom’s Tiramisu is outstanding, as are its cashew-based ice creams; we tried Banana Nut, sweet but honey-free “Honeycomb” and Matcha Green Tea. I’d challenge anyone to tell these are dairy-free.

Among the many items we sampled, only one was an underperformer, and a minor one at that: the soy-based pepperoni slices perched atop a thick pizza crust. While the pizza overall scored well on looks, texture, and taste for its dough, sauce and faux cheese, the pepperoni was somewhat flat in taste. Still, the power of suggestion takes over when an accompaniment like pepperoni looks and feels the part in its vegan configuration, especially when the rest of the pizza is in top form.

Besides, comparing vegan food to conventional fare can miss the point and shortchange your dining experience. By mentally searching for the tastes to which you are accustomed, you risk bypassing new flavors that hit your palate in unexpected ways—especially when dining on selections from as creative a menu as Blossom’s. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves no longer thinking about what the food in front of us should taste like, but how good it tasted.

As Blossom makes clear on its menu, the restaurant is “first and foremost animal caring,” a quote attributed to talented Executive Chef Ramiro Ramirez. Blossom also serves fair-trade coffees, and its dessert menu cites the sources of some items (spring water from Saratoga Springs, New York, for instance, and Elderflower Lemonade from a United Kingdom fruit farm). And its “In Bloom” menu features seasonal fare— we loved the flavorful Raw Zucchini Rollatini, with herbed cashew cheese, sesame-ginger dressing, sunflower sprout salad and an herbed oil drizzle.

The restaurant’s social consciousness also extends to its restrooms, where it provides Mrs. Meyer’s liquid hand soap (free of phthalates, parabens, and sulfates). Though Blossom, which also has a location in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, is situated in the upscale Upper West Side, it is neither pretentious nor haughty. The restaurant’s welcoming rear dining room features warm beige brick walls adorned with mirrors, planters with spider plants and ferns, wine bottles on wood shelves and minimalist art.

The host seated near the door contributed to the down-to-earth vibe: he looked like he tours with Mumford & Sons. Indeed, more than a few guests were casually dressed. Still, the mood is more casual upscale than Woodstock hip, though one set of piped-in music during our visit included Beatles, Kinks and Simon & Garfunkel
songs.

After working my way through its vegan appetizers, a sampling of several entrees and delectable desserts, Blossom had this committed carnivore, though not a full convert to veganism, agreeing with the sentiment that eventually played over the restaurant’s speakers: “I’m a Believer.” Blossom’s masterful presentations and ingredient combinations are sure to make repeat visitors of sometimes vegans like me and devotees alike. @BlossomVegan, BlossomNYC.com.

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