Where to start... Blossom on 86th & Columbus is on of three places I take all my non-vegan pals and family members when they come to stay in NYC or want to have dinner with me. I have this theory that when people ask to have dinner with me who would never normally eat vegan food, or whom have an idea of veganism as bland, I must take them to the most extraordinary vegan restaurants around. That means all the vegan substitutes, vegan meats and vegan cheeses that I don't typically make for myself. Or maybe I'm secretly selfish and use guests as an excuse to indulge in delish gourmet food!
Blossom is exceptional. The quality of the food -- and the ingredients -- is about as good as it gets in the US. I've been here several times so I'll conglomerate all the reviews into one post!
- NACHOS: I have gotten the nachos every single time I have visited. The cashew cheese is amazing and there is just the right ratio of topping : chip. This has been a hit with every single person who I've brought. No one can get enough!
- BUFFALO RISOTTO CROQUETTES: I've also had the buffalo risotto croquettes and the cheese plate. Blossom does an amazing job with their gourmet/artisan vegan cheeses. I think Daiya is used for the pizza and nachos (I might be wrong), but the artisan cheese plates are divine. Actually heavenly! The buffalo croquettes were also pretty good -- if you're someone who like Buffalo sauce. As a non-American who is fully excited by the novelty of something so culturally important as buffalo sauce/Superbowl/ranch, this was really fun for me. Think of it as your upscale, bougie buffalo wings (although I love them too... Thank you Red Bambo)!
- BUTTERNUT SQUASH GNOCCHI: this dish is actually luxurious. I know I've said good things about everything so far, the nachos and buffalo croquettes were gourmet versions of fun, game-day kind of foods. The gnocchi, on the other hand, is sophisticated. The texture of the gnocchi itself was just perfect. One wonders why eggs were ever included in gnocchi in the first place! The gnocchi come with spinach, basil, red and yellow tomatoes, chives, roasted pumpkin seeds, beets and a white wine cashew cream sauce. The sauce is silky and rich, but because it's made entirely of plant ingredients, you don't feel heavy and bloated after eating it, as you might after eating a dairy cream sauce.
- BLACK EYED PEA CAKE: This dish is nut free. My dining partner on this occasion chose this dish -- it's probably not something I would have picked out myself. It's a mix of yukon gold potatoes, black eyed peas and chipotle aioli (which is always spectacular). The presentation is also really nice. I definitely enjoyed the dish, but I probably wouldn't order it again since there are so many amazing items on the menu, which stand out more to me!
Admittedly, I have not yet tried any of the salads at Blossom (or most restaurants). I have developed something of an implicit bias against ordering salads at a restaurant, since most salads in most restaurants tend to be the same. This isn't usually true of vegan/organic/healthy restaurants, which have started to experiment with more daring sauces, often inspired from outside of 'Western' cuisine. My favorite is tahini! On that note --> onto the mains!
- SEITAN SCALLOPINI: This dish is another ultra-gourmet dish. It consists of pan-seared seitan cutlets, bathed in white wine-lemon-caper sauce and accompanied by a neat dollop of truffle mashed potato and sautéed kale. While I thought it was absolutely exquisite, don't order it unless you like strong flavors like capers and truffles. My mother, for instance, didn't like it at all because the flavor was too much for her. The flavors are very pungent - but if you like truffle and capers, that's not such a bad thing. The white wine sauce is somehow buttery, creamy and a little bit sour all at the same time. The potatoes were perfectly fluffy, and the seitan (my favorite of all meat substitutes) was tender, with the texture of baked sauteed chicken fillet.
FETTUCCINE ALFREDO: This dish is your standard alfredo -- but vegan. It tastes pretty much exactly how you would imagine it to. The sauce is thick and creamy, made from cashews. It is combined with juicy, sauteed mushrooms, spinach, herbs and shallots, and topped with vegan parmesan cheese. Because the dish is so simple and contains so few ingredients, the quality of the ingredients is so important. It is definitely no boxed alfredo or cauliflower cheese sauce.
MARGHERITA PIZZA: The first time I had pizza at Blossom, we had been deliberating over which vegan pizza to order: I wanted something jazzy and exciting like the cajun or truffle pizzas. My friends suggested the Mediterranean -- but as a Middle Easterner, I tend not to order things like hummus wraps or pizza at vegan restaurants (unless I am specifically at an Arabic restaurant) because it is so normal to me. Hummus is everywhere, so I can choose that at any old restaurant. Vegan restaurants for me are an opportunity to eat foods I wouldnt normally be able to make myself! My mother was partial to margherita. Since I wanted to give her a special vegan meal, I acquiesced. Boy, am I glad! The mozzarella on the pizza was an artisan variety, I think -- not just a plain store-bought cheese. The marinara is house-made, with tomatoes and fresh basil. You can add pepperoni for $3, but I did not (perhaps next time I will). In the future, I would just prefer less oil.
CAJUN PIZZA: Having been emboldened by my successful pizza order the last time I went to Blossom, I decided to go for the Cajun pizza. I had a whole new cohort of non-vegans with me this time, so I really wanted to impress them. However, this pizza disappointed me. The sound of cajun seitan was really stimulating. I was thinking it would have a Louisiana flavor, with just enough spice! However, there was WAY too much avocado and the pizza was so oily, it gave me a sore tummy afterwards (much more than the margherita, which had a little too much oil for my liking to begin with).
DESSERTS: The best bit?
- TIRAMISU: This was the first dessert I ever had at Blossom. Tiramisu and cheesecake used to be my two ultimate favorite desserts before I was vegan. I wasn't actually sure if this dish was raw or not. The cream has a very strong coconut taste, which, while not unpleasant, is not true to the traditional flavors of the dish. The cake part was not very spongy, but in any case, the dessert was still thoroughly enjoyable. The strawberries were a fresh touch to a very rich dessert. I rate it -- but only if you like coconut!
- ORANGE CREME-BRULEE: I ordered this on my second visit to Blossom. The taste is floral and citrusy, but again, the coconut is very strong. I am not a huge fan of coconut in desserts because I find the flavor tends to overpower. I did enjoy the dish, but I won't order it again because I don't think it compares to some of the others.This dessert sounded very exciting, but it didn't blow my mind as much as the cheesecake!
- CHEESECAKE: DI-VINE! Absolutely spot on. The texture was perfect, and the cake was just the right amount of sweet and rich. It came with a coulis, which was light and refreshing. It's truly hard to believe this cheesecake is vegan. It shocked all my non-vegan friends. I totally recommend this dessert over all the others I have tried! Ganache and cobbler next?
- ICE CREAM: We tried the cookie dough soy ice cream, which was really delicious -- kind of the ice cream version of Speculoos cookie butter. I tend to prefer soy ice cream to almond milk, because I find it is creamier. Coconut and cashew milk ice cream is also really creamy, though these are higher in fat. I think they have some raw varieties too!