Vegan Dinner at Blossom on Carmine

I am absolutely obsessed with Blossom Du Jour, a vegan take-out restaurant near work on 43rd and 9th. I almost look forward to late nights in the office, because that means I can order a bowl of Blossom’s awesome tomato lentil soup and karmic kale salad. In fact, when I was walking back home today, I was very tempted to trek out to Chelsea and order take-out at another Blossom branch, even though this is nowhere near my East Village address.

So when I saw a Groupon deal for Blossom on Carmine, a sit-down restaurant in the West Village that’s part of the Blossom empire, I was all over it. I recruited my vegan enthusiast partner-in-crime Cat to save the date for a vegan dinner at Blossom. Of course, the one day that Ruoxi the hardcore carnivore was free for dinner was the day we had scheduled vegan night, so he too joined us as a very reluctant third wheel.

The restaurant itself felt like a neighborhood joint with a nice ambiance, a quality enhanced by all the atmospheric candle mood lighting that surrounded us. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of couples on dates and small group dinners taking place around us. If you ever wanted to make a good impression on an attractive vegan, then taking her here would be the way to do it. And yes, I used the pronoun “her,” a lot of chicks happen to be vegan. If you ever attend some sort of vegan or vegetarian food festival, you will be surrounded by tons of white chicks.

We had scouted the menu out beforehand and decided to avoid any “mock meat” creations. I’m not opposed to seitan or soy by any means, but it’s highly unlikely that a vegan chik’n wrap can completely measure up to a real chicken wrap. I wanted to avoid unfair comparisons like this and felt original vegetable creations would allow for more objectivity.

I thought the vegetable dishes we ordered were really well done. The brussels sprouts, while sauteed, still retained a fresh crispness about the leaves, and the garlic seasoning provided a lot of nice flavor. The kale and baby bok choy were grilled, and the slight char and the sweet honey glaze went extremely well together.

blossom - shredded sauteed brussels sprouts
sautéed, shredded brussels sprouts
blossom - garlic grilled kale and baby bok choy
garlic grilled kale and hefeweisen/honey glazed baby bok choy

My favorite “vegetable” by far were the french fries. I know this is totally the biggest vegan cop-out order, comparable to proudly ordering a California roll or chicken teriyaki at a sushi restaurant. But there are tons of regular restaurants that mess up fries, and Blossoms’ are some of the best. Thin, golden and perfectly crispy, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

blossom - french fries
french fries

Things started to get a little more interesting with the arrival of the buffalo risotto croquettes. This dish was the first that we ordered that had more conspicuous roots in a meat-inspired dish. Clearly one might draw some parallels between this and the infamous buffalo chicken wing, but capturing the spicy spirit in an arancini ball, which had no obvious ties to chicken meat, avoided the comparisons. The chewy texture was extremely satisfying, and the rice was super concentrated with buffalo sauce. It was definitely one of my favorite non-vegetable items from Blossom.

blossom - buffalo risotto croquettes
buffalo risotto croquettes, pickled carrot ribbons, bleu cheese sauce

I was looking forward to the tagine dish–the warm, intoxicating Middle Eastern stew is something I love. But the tagine at Blossom didn’t have that same soulful warmth about it. Things just didn’t seem to be cohesive. Usually in a tagine the chicken and the surrounding sauces seem to melt into one another, but the elements in Blossom’s version seemed very separate, like let’s technically execute a tagine, but let’s not edit and experiment to make sure the spices and the textures are in harmony.

blossom - tagine
tagine with orange scented millet, chickpeas, dried apricots, and oil-cured olives

The most challenging dish was probably the mushroom pizza, and that was because of the vegan “cheese” that was used on top of it. I think they used daiya cheese, a vegan cheese substitute made from cassava and arrowroot, which are two ingredients I’ve never heard of before. And clearly these unfamiliar and foreign qualities were front and center in the flavor of the pizza. All that I could think about was how this “cheese” tasted nothing like real mozzarella cheese. I tasted something nutty, sometimes a little bbq sauce, which is not what mozzarella tastes like. Everything else–the crust and the vegetables and sauce–were excellent, but the daiya flavors were so strange and obtrusive. If you’re down with daya, though, then this pizza is for you.

blossom - mushroom pizza
mushroom pizza with “mozzarella” cheese

Luckily dinner ended on a high note. We ordered the blueberry bread pudding, which was fantastic. It was crispy, with the texture and pleasing warmth of a freshly cooked waffle. The citrus notes from the lemon provided some bright layers to the dish, and I liked how it wasn’t so sweet–such balance and thoughtful preparation all around. While not every dish hit it out of the park, I did appreciate how the dishes were original and well-executed. Blossom didn’t sit on its laurels knowing that its captive vegan clientele had limited dining options and so it didn’t have to try very hard to please them. Much like its name, this restaurant will continue to blossom if this dinner is any indication.

Blossom on Carmine
41 Carmine St (between Bedford and Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10014
(646) 438-9939

4 thoughts on “Vegan Dinner at Blossom on Carmine

  1. I LOVE Blossum du Jour. The bean burger wrap is my absolute favorite item.
    I also can’t stand vegan meat imitations. If you wanted your food to taste like meat, why would you be vegan in the first place?

    1. so annoyed when people make this kind of statement….

      Vegans are usually vegans because of ethics. It is a lifestyle choice to avoid the expolitation of other living beings for your appetite/entertainment/habits/beliefs/fashion etc. If it does not encompass that philosophy, I feel it should be called a ‘plant-based’ diet.

      Maybe we did not dislike the food we were indoctrinated into, but rather, respect the fact that living, breathing, sentient, beings value their lives as much as you value yours. They lost their life so you could consume a half eaten burger seems really dark ages and unnecessay when the foods we grew up eating can be reproduced with not having to eat dead animals(who really would have preferred to live).

      I was not born vegan but when I decided to become one, I still missed some of the flavors, textures, and scents of certain meals and that is the reason why vegans like some foods that take on similar textures. Mostly, all of us enjoy the textures, sauces, breading, seasonings of what we are consuming and that is key.

      Also, please stop referring to certain plant based food items as “imitation”. That implies that dead flesh and rotting carcasses are REAL while plant based foods are not. Once you learn to eat clean food you look back and think how odd it was to consume animal secretions and body parts. Personally, I tend to enjoy more whole food type itmes now, but if these similar foods (seitan, tempeh, soy proteins etc) get people to decrease animal slaughter, there is everything right about it.

      1. I see your point that many vegans miss the textures and flavors of certain dishes typically associated with meat, and that there are places out there that cater to that need. You are certainly entitled to seek those dishes out, and I wouldn’t question your dedication to the principles of veganism.

        However, I think Sasha’s use of the word imitation wasn’t meant to say that the plant based rendition of a dish is fake. But it is in fact inspired by a meat-based original, and without that meat frame of reference, it wouldn’t exist. Cafe Blossom for instance sells an “un-chicken griller” wrap, and it’s pretty clear that it’s meant to replicate a “chicken” wrap. The PETA website also has a section on “Favorite Vegan Substitutes” that explicitly references “mock meats”, “faux franks”, etc. Both are physically real, which we don’t doubt at all, but the fact of the matter is, one is trying to recreate the other, and that in my book is a form of “imitation.”

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