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Sunday, February 24, 2013

NYC Vegan Tour: Cafe Blossom

Okay, this post probably looks a little weird coming after one on how I need to save money, but...but.. Groupon! There was a $15 for $30 worth Groupon and how could I turn that down? I'd been wanting to visit one of Blossom's three locations for quite a while, and how better to do that than cheaply and with best friend and dining partner, Greggg?
We went to Cafe Blossom in the West Village, the most ideal location for me because despite the more than adequate subway system (yea I said it!) ummmm I rarely go above 14th Street. Yes, even Chelsea is too far.
We went on a Tuesday night and, while we had reservations, we could have gotten a table right away. We jumped right into the entrees, as a room in stomach-saving as well as money-saving measure. None of the appetizers besides the beet carpaccio looked particularly appealing to me anyway, though I've heard good things about the black eyed pea cakes.
Greg ordered the Seitan marsala, which came with roasted potatoes, sauteed spinach, shallots, beets, jalpeno, figs, and marsala juice.


I toyed with the idea of getting a salad (I KNOW) but ordered the mushroom phyllo pastry with mashed butternut squash, grilled baby bok choy, saueed bell pepper, asparagus, basil, and jalapeno cashew cream.


This is G's review:
i liked this place but it was very much a fancy restaurant in the way they served their food. emphasis on plating and presentation with small/odd portions. for example, the "spinach" included with my dish as listed in the menu was basically a little tiny bit of spinach atop the rather proportionally large portion of seitan, which was delicious and had a great chew too it. also, the potatoes as listed in the menu were great but it was like 2 little roasted potato halves. which were great. everything was awesome, just not really served to my style, it being a "fancy" restaurant. i guess whatever you order just imagine it coming out as if it were on the cover of gourmet magazine, if that is a magazine? refer to the photos. i suppose it was just odd as it is a vegan restaurant so i was expecting more of an emphasis on the vegetables than on the seitan. i'd go back with another groupon or if someone else was paying or i become rich.
I guess my reaction was sort of similar. The dish itself was delicious - I liked the mashed butternut squash the most; the mushroom pastries were too much phyllo and not enough filling. I was glad for the bok choy as a green vegetable but it wasn't all that well seasoned on its own. The jalapeno cashew cream was the saving grace there. As for the other vegetables, bell pepper and asparagus, they were simply small portions just chopped up to top the other components of the meal.
I guess you could say the portion sizes were small - at least for the prices - but I think we both felt satisfied at the end of the meal. That said, there is no way in hell we were going to pass up dessert. Especially when the menu offers passionfruit margarita cheesecake topped with housemade blueberry chocolates.


This is where Lenten promises flew out the window. I am a really big fan of vegan cheesecake and this was pretty incredible and very rich. Greg had to stop and cradle his head in his hands for a couple seconds after each bite.
Blossom also offers a cocktail list that is verrrry enticing, but I held off.
Hannah Kaminsky wrote an insightful piece about Groupons often being detrimental to businesses. I think it's a difficult situation. Of course I want vegan restaurants (or any company I enjoy) to flourish and do well and be able to pay their workers a living wage but I don't always have the money to support that. Without the Groupon, it's highly unlikely that I would ever have visited the restaurant at all and now I know that at least I can recommend it for more special occasions.
Hey, the view is free.

22 comments:

  1. So many great things happening in this post! I love, love the nighttime city shot - really beautiful. If there is vegan cheesecake, I believe it is our obligation to eat it. ;) Even though it was mediocre, the dishes were certainly visually appealing. Jalapeno cashew cream - yes, please.

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    1. Weird how I'd have loved for more vegetables too but ALL OVER the vegan cheese(cake) and cream. They know what they're doing.

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  2. I had the same experience there too- i had the ravioli and there were like five! The cashew cream with them was awesome but still....
    Interesting article on the groupons, thanks for the link
    Ttrockwood@yahoo.com

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  3. Oh man, that picture of the city is so beautiful. I love the city during the day but I think it is so much more beautiful at night. Perfect capture, I love the color, the glow, and the overall tone of the picture. So so pretty.

    Great review of the restaurant. I am not one for upscale restaurants and from looking at the plates I can definitely see what you mean by the odd portioning. I'm always a fan of a large portion of greens and I would have been bummed by the tiny portion of spinach. I'm sure it tasted good and it looks beautiful but I think proper proportions are important to a meal. That cheesecake looks AMAZING though. Vegan cheesecake is hit or miss for me, but finding a good one is so satisfying!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. It was a misty, warm night. I liked the diffusion around the light.

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  4. Ah, Groupon is a dangerous seductress indeed... But I totally would have gone for that deal too, since I have yet to visit (any branch of) Blossom myself. That stew sounds like the height of fancy comfort food.

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    1. Yes! And now I know I can go back.

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  5. That's so weird; I recently went there for lunch and I feel like the portions were much larger than your dinner portions. Review coming! (I can't believe you resisted the pea cakes)

    Anyhoo, I hear you on the coupons and I get it alot from vegan friends/business owners. I realize that businesses are trying to attract people who aren't already familiar with the business, but why does that mean I- as a loyal customer, shouldn't also benefit? It's like when a business gives a prize to the person who is their 2,000th like on Facebook. How about at least giving all your loyal likers a shot at the prize and not just the bandwagon jumpers? Bottom line is that they wouldn't be offering a coupon if people were already beating down their doors. And, in the case of a more expensive restaurant like Blossom or even Sacred Chow that has recently raised their prices significantly- I wouldn't go there nearly as much without the incentive.

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    1. Lame! Now I gotta go back for lunch. Good points on the Groupons. A lot of the time, I'm only first hearing about companies due to their having coupons or deals so that's another thing to say for offering discounts.

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  6. Blossom looks amazing! I'm a big fan of fancy dinners though, so that could be part of it. I love the gorgeous sauce on that seitan dish.

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    1. I could see myself being a fan if I had more money...

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  7. So not only do you get to eat at Blossom, but you get to go there with a Groupon! Lucky!

    The best part was G's review where he plans to go back if he 'becomes rich'.

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    1. G is on his way. Have you SEEN his comics lately?

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  8. I think your description of "fancy restaurants" was spot on. The food tends to be beautiful and delicious but not in the proportions we're used to eating. I like lots of vegetables, too. Still, it's nice to experience elegant food every once in a while. :)

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    1. Oh, definitely nice to have a dining "experience!"

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  9. That's too bad that you were underwhelmed with the meal! I so know what you mean about fancy restaurants where you leave hungry. That is the worst! I love beautiful plating but not at the expense of a less than full stomach.

    Oh, man, what would I give for that cheesecake! It sounds divine!

    I thought about the Groupon issue you mentioned recently when a local vegan restaurant offered a coupon on a similar site. On the one hand, I'm already a customer, but on the other, I don't dine out very often for many reasons, one of them being costs. So I figured me going in and giving them some money (in addition to the cost of drinks which wasn't included in the coupon) is still better for them than me making dinner at home. Ultimately, I feel like their business isn't my charity. If they offer a coupon, they should expect people to use it.

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  10. "Best friend and dining partner" is a pretty good title, ha ha. And that's a pretty interesting review - I would tend to agree that if I'm having a fancy vegan dining experience, I would likely want emphasis on the veggies and not the "meat".

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    Replies
    1. It's hard to find a person cool enough to eat with.

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  12. I'm finally going to visit Cafe Blossom for brunch this weekend. I can't decide what to order since I want to try both entree and dessert, but afraid two dishes might be too much at once. :)

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